Discussion on social cognitive career theory

Discussion on social cognitive career theory
Contextual Influences. (Barriers & Supports) Person Inputs. - Predispositions. - Gender. - Race/ethnicity. - Disability/ Health status. Self-efficacy. Expectations. Learning Experiences. Interests. Goals. Actions. Background. Contextual. Affordances. Background. Outcome. Expectations. Performance. Attainment. Bandura: Personal attributes, environment impact what things we learn. This in turn influences our self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. Barriers and supports can interact throughout. SCCT counseling attempts to identify inaccurate self-efficacy beliefs & outcome expectations. Then create new learning experiences to build stronger and more accurate self efficacy beliefs. Modified model of SCCT (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994)

Discussion on social cognitive career theory

Discussion on social cognitive career theory

Social Cognitive Career Theory

Discussion on social cognitive career theory

Social cognitive career theory is a relatively new theory that is aimed at explaining three interrelated aspects of career development which include; how basic academic and career interests develop, how educational and career choices are made, how academic and career success is obtained.

The theory incorporates a variety of concepts (e.g., interests, abilities, values, environmental factors) that appear in earlier career theories and have been found to affect career development. The theory developed by Robert W. Lent, Steven D. Brown, and Gail Hackett in 1994, Social cognitive career theory is based on Albert Bandura’s (1986) general social cognitive theory, an influential theory of cognitive and motivational processes that has been extended to the study of many areas of psychosocial functioning, such as academic performance, health behavior, and organizational development (Bandura, 1986).

Also this theory explores how career and academic interests mature, how career choices are developed, and how these choices are turned into action. This is achieved through a focus of three primary tenets.

Three Primary Tenets

Self-efficacy beliefs; Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s personal beliefs about his or her capabilities to perform particular behaviors or courses of action. Unlike global confidence or self-esteem, self-efficacy beliefs are relatively dynamic and are specific to particular activity domains.

People vary in their self-efficacy regarding the behaviors required in different occupational domains. For example, one person might feel very confident in being able to accomplish tasks for successful entry into, and performance in, scientific fields but feel much less confident about his or her abilities in social or enterprising fields, such as sales.

Social cognitive career theory assumes that people are likely to become interested in, choose to pursue, and perform better at activities at which they have strong self-efficacy beliefs, as long as they also have necessary skills and environmental supports to pursue these activities.

The choices that people make about the activities in which they will engage, and their effort and persistence at these activities, entail consideration of outcome as well as self-efficacy beliefs. For example, people are more likely to choose to engage in an activity to the extent that they see their involvement as leading to valued, positive outcomes.

According to Social cognitive career theory and the larger social cognitive theory, persons’ engagement in activities, the effort and persistence they put into them, and their ultimate success are partly determined by both their self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations (Bandura, 1997).

Outcome expectations are the beliefs related to the consequences of performing a specific behavior or on another words we can define Outcome expectations as beliefs about the consequences or outcomes of performing particular behaviors (e.g., what will happen if I do this?).

Typically, outcome expectations are formed thorough past experiences, either direct or vicarious, and the perceived results of these experiences. The choices that people make about the activities in which they will engage, and their effort and persistence at these activities, entail consideration of outcome as well as self-efficacy beliefs.

For example, people are more likely to choose to engage in an activity to the extent that they see their involvement as leading to valued, positive outcomes. In an example intended to illustrate the differing effects of self-efficacy and outcome expectations, had suggested that a person with high self-efficacy for mathematics might choose to avoid science-intensive career fields if she or he anticipates negative outcomes (e.g. non-support of significant others, family conflict) to attend such options, observed that the examples of negative outcome expectations we had used resembled certain barrier scales on the CBI.

They further suggested that our example implies that barriers either influence one’s outcome expectations or may be considered as synonymous without come expectations Self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and goals serve as the basic building blocks of Social cognitive career theory. For example, people vary in their self-efficacy regarding the behaviors required in different occupational fields (Lent, 2005).

Goals are seen as playing a primary role in behavior; a goal is defined as the decisions to begin a particular activity or future plan. Behavior is organized or sustained based on these previously set goals, Personal goals as one’s intentions to engage in a particular activity or to attain a certain level of performance, by setting goals, people help to organize and guide their own behavior and to sustain it in the absence of more immediate positive feedback and despite inevitable setbacks.

Social cognitive theory posits that goals are importantly tied to both self-efficacy and outcome expectations, people tend to set goals that are consistent with their views of their personal capabilities and of the outcomes they expect to attain from pursuing a particular course of action. Success or failure in reaching personal goals, in turn, becomes important information that helps to alter or confirm self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. (Lent, 1994).
Social cognitive career theory’s Interests Model

Self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals play key roles in Social cognitive career theory’s models of educational and vocational interest development, choice making, and performance attainment. Over the course of childhood and adolescence, people are exposed, directly and vicariously, to a variety of occupationally relevant activities in school, at home, and in their communities.

They are also deferentially reinforced for continuing their engagement, and for developing their skills, in different activity domains. The types and variety of activities to which children and adolescents are exposed is partly a function of the context and culture in which they grow up.

Depending on cultural norms, for example, girls are typically exposed to and reinforced for engaging in different types of activities than are boys. In sum, people are likely to form enduring interest in an activity when they view themselves as competent at performing it and when they expect the activity to produce valued outcomes.

Conversely, interests are unlikely to develop in activities for which people doubt their competence and expect negative outcomes. Furthermore, Social cognitive career theory posits that for interests to blossom in areas for which people have talent, their environments must expose them to the types of direct, vicarious, and persuasive experiences that can give rise to robust efficacy beliefs and positive outcome expectations. Interests are impeded from developing when individuals do not have the opportunity to form strong self-efficacy and positive outcome beliefs, regardless of their level of objective talent.

Indeed, findings suggest that perceived capabilities and outcome expectations form key intervening links between objective abilities and interests (Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998).

Social cognitive career theory’s Choice Model

Social cognitive career theory’s model of the career choice process, which builds on the interests model. Arising largely through self-efficacy and outcome expectations, career-related interests foster particular educational and occupational choice goals.

Especially to the extent that they are clear, specific, strongly held, stated publicly, and supported by significant others, choice goals make it more likely that people will take actions to achieve their goals. Their subsequent performance attainments provide valuable feedback that can strengthen or weaken self-efficacy and outcome expectations and, ultimately, help to revise or confirm choices.

Social cognitive career theory also emphasizes that choice goals are sometimes influenced more directly and potently by self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, or environmental variables than they are by interests. Interests are expected to exert their greatest impact on academic and occupational choice under supportive environmental conditions, which enable people to pursue their interests.

However, many adolescents and adults are not able to follow their interests either unfettered by obstacles or with the full support of important others. The choice making of these persons is constrained by such experiences as economic need, family pressures, or educational limitations.

In such instances, people may need to compromise their interests and, instead, make their choices on the basis of such pragmatic considerations as the type of work that is available to them, their self-efficacy beliefs “Can I do this type of work?”, and outcome expectations “Will the job pay enough to make it worthwhile?”.

Cultural values (e.g., the degree to which one’s choices may be guided by elder family members) may also limit the role of personal interests in career choice (Brown and Lent, 1996).

Social cognitive career theory’s Performance Model

Social cognitive career theory’s performance model is concerned with predicting and explaining two primary aspects of performance: the level of success that people attain in educational and occupational pursuits and the degree to which they persist in the face of obstacles. Social cognitive career theory focuses on the influences of ability, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and performance goals on success and persistence. Ability is assumed to affect performance via two primary pathways.

First, ability influences performance and persistence directly. For example, students with higher aptitude in a particular subject tend to do better and persist longer in that subject than do students with lesser aptitude. Second, ability is hypothesized to influence performance and persistence indirectly though the intervening paths of self-efficacy and outcome expectations. In other words, performance involves both ability and motivation.

Social cognitive career theory emphasizes the motivational roles of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and performance goals. Specifically, Social cognitive career theory suggests that self-efficacy and outcome expectations work in concert with ability, in part by influencing the types of performance goals that people set for themselves.

Controlling for level of ability, students and workers with higher self-efficacy and more positive outcome expectations will be more likely to establish higher performance goals for themselves, to organize their skills more effectively, and to persist longer in the face of setbacks.

As a result, they may achieve higher levels of success than those with lower self-efficacy and less positive outcome expectations. Thus favorable self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals help people to make the best possible use of their ability (Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998).


Social Cognitive Career Theory and its major elements offer a useful framework for explaining educational and vocational interest development, choice making, and performance. In particular, self-efficacy, beliefs and outcome expectations have each been found to account for a sizable amount of the variation in vocational and educational interests.

For example, it has been shown that career-related choices are strongly predicted by interests and, to a lesser extent, self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. Specifically, those from a culture characterized by collective decision making were more inclined to choose a career path that was consistent with the preferences of their family members and with their self-efficacy beliefs rather than one that necessarily fit their personal interests.

Discussion on social cognitive career theory
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Discussion on social cognitive career theory
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