Theoretical Framework: Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994, 2000)
Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) is, at its core, a theory of motivation that is driven by the three constructs of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goal-directed activity. These three constructs act as mediators in the relationships between individual and environmental experiences and outcome behaviors.
In brief, self-efficacy is defined as the confidence one has in one’s ability to perform a particular behavior, outcome expectations involve the anticipated outcomes of one’s actions, and goals are the determination to engage in a particular activity (Bandura, 1986). More specifically, SCCT posits that self-efficacy should fully mediate the relationship between individual factors and outcomes, and should partially mediate the relationship between environmental factors and outcomes. SCCT proposes that person inputs (i.e., demographics, individual differences, and predispositions) and background variables (i.e., environmental influences) influence self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations, which in turn affect the formation of interests, which subsequently influence goals, actions, and performance attainments (e.g., Lent et al., 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002; Lent & Brown, 1996; Schwab & Tokar, 2005).
The first core construct is self-efficacy beliefs, which are “concerned not with the skills one has but with judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses” (Bandura, 1986: 391). It is thus a general belief in one’s ability to perform a particular behavior or course of action (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997; Lent et al., 1994). Efficacy beliefs “influence the courses of action people choose to pursue, how much effort they put forth in given endeavors, how long they will persevere in the face of obstacles and failures, their resilience to adversity, whether their thought patterns are self-hindering or self-aiding, how much stress and depression they experience in coping with environmental demands, and the level of accomplishments they realize” (Bandura, 1997: 3). As such, self-efficacy influences cognition, motivation, and behavior; self-efficacious individuals tend to show persistence toward goal achievement, set challenging goals, recover well from failure, and in general exhibit higher performance (Bandura, 1997, and see meta-analyses by Jones & Bono, 2001 and Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998). People make decisions based on self-efficacy beliefs by undertaking activities and choosing situations they deem are within their capabilities for success (Bandura, 1993).
The second core construct of SCCT is outcome expectations, which have been defined by Bandura (1986, cited in Lent et al., 2000) as the anticipation that certain outcomes would follow certain actions, and includes beliefs about extrinsic rewards, self-directed consequences such as pride in achievement, and social consequences such as approval. As with self-efficacy, outcome expectations have been applied or tailored to different domains – e.g., as they relate to vocational interests (Gore & Leuwerke, 2000; Lent et al., 1994; Lopez, Lent, Brown, & Gore, 1997), academic interests (Lent et al., 2001; Smith & Fouad, 1999), and career exploration (Betz & Voyten, 1997). Taking the perspective that they reflect the perception that certain outcomes will follow certain actions, outcome expectations can be defined as the expected results or outcomes of intentional actions in which an individual chooses to engage (Bandura, 2001).
The third core construct of SCCT is goals, which can be defined as “consciously articulated, personally relevant objectives” that lend a sense of purpose and direction to people’s behavior (Elliot, Sheldon, & Church, 1997: 915), and are thus a fundamental component of all modern psychological theories that aim at understanding human motivation and development (e.g., Bandura, 1977; Deci & Ryan, 1987; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Schunk, 1991).
Under the "Member Site" tab, you will find a downloadable Word document showing both our theoretical model and proposed hypotheses to be tested in the early stages of this