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Lent, Brown and Hackett’s Social Cognitive Career Theory – 1987 PDF Print E-mail

The Social Cognition Career Theory (SCCT) has grown out of Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory and attempts to address issues of culture, gender, genetic endowment, social context and unexpected life events that may interact with and supersede the effects of career-related choices. The SCCT focuses on the connection of self-efficacy, outcome expectations and personal goals that influence an individual’s career choice.

SCCT proposes that career choice is influenced by the beliefs the individual develops and refines through four major sources: a) personal performance accomplishments, b) vicarious learning, c) social persuasion and d) physiological states and reactions. How these aspects work together in the career development process is through a process in which an individual develops an expertise/ability for a particular endeavor and meets with success. This process reinforces one’s self-efficacy or belief in future continued success in the use of this ability/expertise. As a result, one is likely to develop goals that involve continuing involvement in that activity/endeavor. Through an evolutionary process beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout adulthood, one narrows the scope to successful endeavors to focus on and form a career goal/choice. What is critical to the success of the process is the extent to which one views the endeavor/activity as one at which they are successful and offers valued compensation. The contextual factors come into play by influencing the individual’s perception of the probability of success. If the person perceives few barriers the likelihood of success reinforces the career choice, but if the barriers are viewed as significant there is a weaker interest and choice actions.

By adolescence, most people have a sense of their competence at a vast array of performance areas, along with convictions about the likely outcomes of a career. Through a process of intervening learning experiences that shape further one’s abilities and impacts self-efficacy and outcome beliefs, one’s vocational interests, choices and performances are shaped and reshaped.

The SCCT differs from the majority of existing career theories in its dynamic nature. Through it’s focus upon the role of the self-system and the individual’s beliefs the inherent influence of the social and economic contexts are addressed.

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