Chapter Two Trait and Factor, Developmental, Learning, and Cognitive Theories

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Chapter Two Trait and Factor, Developmental, Learning, and Cognitive Theories

  • Marie F. Shoffner
  • Mary M. Deacon
  • Career Counseling:
  • Foundations, Perspectives, and Applications
  • edited by David Capuzzi and Mark Stauffer

What is a Theory?

  • A theory is “an attempt to represent some aspect of behavior, much in the same way that a map is an attempt to represent some geographic territory”
  • (Krumboltz, 1994, p. 9).

What is a Good Theory?

  • “A good theory is a simplified representation of some domain constructed so that users can ask questions about that domain with an increased probability of receiving valuable answers”
  • (Krumboltz, 1994, p. 12).

Class assignment

  • In groups of 3 – 4 students:
  • Create a poster summary of the following theories:
  • 1. Holland’s
  • 2. Theory of Work Adjustment
  • 3. Super’s
  • 4. Gottfredson
  • 5. Krumboltz – CBT and Planned Happenstance
  • 6. Savickas
  • 7. Hansen
  • 8. Peavy
  • 9. Schlossberg

List the following on your poster:

  • name of theory
  • theorist
  • classification
  • core concepts of the theory

Trait and Factor Approaches

  • Knowledge of the
  • Job
  • Knowledge of the Individual
  • Match
  • Job
  • & Individual

Trait and Factor Approaches

  • John Holland’s Theory of Personality Types
    • Realistic
    • Investigative
    • Artistic
    • Social
    • Enterprising
    • Conventional

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Dawis and Lofquist's TWA
  • Work adjustment happens when an individual improves or maintains his or her fit or correspondence with the work environment.

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Person-Environment Correspondence (PEC)
  • It addresses how environment and person correspond to each other.

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Reinforcement values
  • (needs and values)
  • e.g., Status, which includes the needs of Advancement, Recognition, Authority, and Social Status.

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Satisfaction
  • (also includes satisfactoriness as determined by the employer)
  • Personality styles
  • &
  • Adjustment behaviors

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Celerity
  • (speed of initiating environmental interaction)
  • Pace
  • (activity level of interaction)
  • Rhythm
  • (pattern of interaction)
  • Endurance
  • (sustainability of interaction),

Theory of Work Adjustment

  • Individual levels of:
  • Flexibility
  • Activeness
  • Reactiveness
  • Perseverance

Values-based Career Counseling

  • Posits that values are the primary salient characteristic of career decision making, more so than individual interests.
  • Individual/work congruence is a value-based fit

Developmental Theories

  • Developmental theories provide a framework for understanding the unfolding process of career and career choice over the lifespan.

Donald Super’s Theory of Vocational Development

  • Super assumed that an individual’s career choice was not merely the result of matching his or her abilities and interests to the world of work, but that it was an expression of his or her self-concept.

Primary Life Roles

  • Child
  • Student
  • Leasurite
  • Citizen
  • Worker
  • Homemaker
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Pensioner
  • Life role relates to behaviors, motives, and sentiments more than merely position
  • Life Arenas
  • Home
  • School
  • Work
  • Community
  • Life roles are exercised in four arenas. One role can be played out in several theaters.
  • Recycling of stages throughout life, “minicycles,” or a cycling through stages across the lifespan “maxicyle.”
  • Life Space
  • The constellation of life roles played out by individuals in life stages. Life-spaces differ between individuals because of personal factors (e.g., interests, needs, values,) and situational factors (e.g., family, culture, gender, societal forces).
  • Life Role Salience
  • The importance of a role. Awareness of which life roles are more or less important.
  • Lifestyle
  • The simultaneous combination of life roles.
  • Life Cycle
  • Sequence of life roles.
  • Lifespan
  • The course of life or “maxicycle” of stages.
  • Life Structure
  • The “career pattern” that results from role salience and structuring of various life roles.

Linda Gottfredson’s Theory of Circumscription and Compromise

  • Theory addresses how childhood influences career development and career choice.
  • Vocational self-concept begins early in childhood and is defined through four orientations to work.

Circumscription and Compromise

  • Size and Power
  • Ages 3-5
  • Gender Roles
  • Ages 6-8
  • Prestige and
  • Social Valuation
  • Ages 9-13
  • Unique Self
  • Ages 14+

Krumboltz’ Social Cognitive Career Theory

  • Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM)
  • Learning Theory of Career Counseling (LTCC)

Krumboltz’ Social Cognitive Career Theory

  • This theory recognized the importance of cognitive processes and behavior in career decision making, and explicitly addressed the influence of reinforcement and learning on the career development and choice processes.

Social Cognitive Career Theory

  • Genetics
  • (Gender, race, physical characteristics, specific talents)
  • Environment
  • (Social, cultural, political, economic, geographic, and climate)
  • Learning experiences
  • (Both instrumental and associative)
  • Task-approach skills

Cognitive Information Processing (CIP)

  • The CIP approach to decision making and to career problem solving is designed to “help persons make an appropriate current career choice and, while doing so, to learn improved problem-solving and decision-making skills that they will need for future choices”
  • (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004, p. 2).


  • Communication
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Valuing
  • Execution

Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT)

  • Three important factors:
  • Person factors
  • Contextual factors
  • Experiential and learning factors

Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT)

  • Learning experiences shape
  • self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations, and are influenced by factors such as educational opportunity and family context.


  • Self-efficacy beliefs influence choice, actual performance, and persistence.
  • Self-efficacy beliefs act as moderators between experience and career interests.
  • Goal aspirations, and ultimately goal choices, are influenced by interests and by relevant self-efficacy and outcome expectation beliefs.

Theories of Embedded Career

  • Blustein’s concept of the embedded self (Blustein, 1994) or the self in relationship with others and the environment, career, and career development can be viewed as embedded in the larger context of social and environmental interchange and relationship.

Theories of Embedded Career

Psychodynamic Approaches

  • Psychodynamic theories of career development focus on issues of ego identity, life scripts, and life themes and are often extensions of the theories of Adler (life themes) and Erikson (ego identity development).


  • Blustein, D. L. (1994). Who am I?: The question of self and identify in career development. In M. L. Savickas & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories: Implications for science and practice (pp. 139-154). Palo Alto, CA: CPP Books.
  • Krumboltz, J. D. (1994). Improving career development theory from a social learning perspective. In M. L. Savickas & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories: Implications for science and practice (pp. 9-31). Palo Alto, CA: CPP Books.
  • Sampson, J. P., Jr., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W., & Lenz, J. G. (2004). Career counseling and services: A cognitive information processing approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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