Toward a Unifying Social Cognitive Theory of Career and Academic Interest, Choice, and Performance
This article presents a social cognitive framework for understanding three intricately linked aspects of career development: (a) the formation and elaboration of career-relevant interests, (b) selection of academic and career choice options, and (c) performance and persistence in educational and occupational pursuits. The framework, derived primarily from Bandura′s (1986) general social cognitive theory, emphasizes the means by which individuals exercise personal agency in the career development process, as well as extra-personal factors that enhance or constrain agency. In particular, we focus on self-efficacy, expected outcome, and goal mechanisms and how they may interrelate with other person (e.g., gender), contextual (e.g., support system), and experiential/learning factors. Twelve sets of propositions are offered to organize existing findings and guide future research on the theory. We also present a meta-analysis of relevant findings and suggest specific directions for future empirical and theory-extension activity.
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