Affect in Daily Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Career Choice Anxiety.

Author:Park, In-Jo

The authors investigated the impact of emotional intelligence on 2 career decision variables: daily career decision self-efficacy and daily career choice anxiety. They also examined the mediating effects of daily positive affect on these variables. At baseline, 103 Korean undergraduate and graduate students completed questionnaires about emotional intelligence. Using a daily diary method, the authors also collected data on participants' daily positive affect, daily career decision self-efficacy, and daily career choice anxiety for 21 consecutive days. Hierarchical linear model analyses indicated that emotional intelligence predicted daily career decision self-efficacy and daily career choice anxiety. These findings suggest that fostering emotional intelligence and daily positive affect could help students determine their future career. For individuals experiencing difficulty in the career decision process, counselors may foster career decision self-efficacy and reduced career choice anxiety via enhancing clients' emotional intelligence and daily positive affect.

Keywords: emotional intelligence, daily positive affect, daily career decision self-efficacy, daily career choice anxiety, career decision-making


Researchers have given increased attention to emotion constructs in career decision-making (Bubany, Krieshok, Black, & McKay, 2008; Krieshok, Black, & McKay, 2009; Saka, Gati, & Kelly, 2008). A widely considered emotion-related variable in career studies (Fritzsche & Parrish, 2005) is emotional intelligence (e.g., Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). Emotional intelligence, a cognitive ability to deal with emotions to help manage an individual's psychological status (Salovey & Mayer, 1990), is closely related to the cognitive systems embedded in the decision process and can assist in decision-making (Emmerling & Cherniss, 2003). Therefore, emotional intelligence may play an important role in the career decision-making process.

Previous studies have found that emotional intelligence is related to aspects of career decision-making such as career decision self-efficacy and career decision difficulty (e.g., Brown, George-Curran, & Smith, 2003; Di Fabio & Kenny, 2012; Emmerling & Cherniss, 2003; Jiang, 2016). Prior research has also indicated that emotional intelligence alleviates confusion, anxiety, and conflict in career decision-making (Brown et al., 2003; Dahl, Austin, Wagner, & Lukas, 2008). However, although the influence of emotional intelligence on career decision-making variables is well established, several important issues in the relationship between emotional intelligence and career decision-making remain understudied. One issue concerns the mechanism of the relationship between emotional intelligence and career decision-making and the path through which they are related (Jiang, 2016). Therefore, research is needed to examine the role of emotional intelligence in career decision-making and the underlying mechanism of the relationship between the two.

Cognition and Emotion

Cognition and emotion are highly related, and emotional intelligence is a very important cognitive variable characterizing emotional qualities. Therefore, emotional intelligence may influence emotions that people experience in their daily life. However, as far as we know, no research has been conducted examining the role of emotional experience, especially daily affect, in the relationship between emotional intelligence and the career decision process. According to previous studies, positive situational affect, and not trait affect, influences the decision process (Isen & Means, 1983). Specifically, positive affect is related to career engagement, career decision self-efficacy, and career maturity (e.g., Hirschi & Freund, 2014; Park, Kim, Kwon, & Lee, 2018). A recent study showed that career decision-making variables continue to change as positive affect changes (Park et al., 2018).

On the basis of these research needs and previous research results, we first aimed to examine for 21 consecutive days the contribution of emotional intelligence to intraindividual variability in career decision self-efficacy (i.e., daily fluctuation in career decision self-efficacy) and career choice anxiety (i.e., daily fluctuation in career choice anxiety). Trait measures of positive affect may tail to capture intraindividual variability in state affect; therefore, we used the daily diary method (Shiffman, Stone, & Hufford, 2008). Our second aim was to uncover the underlying mechanism in the effect of emotional intelligence on daily career decision self-efficacy and daily career choice anxiety. We expected that daily positive affect would mediate the relationships between emotional intelligence and both daily career decision self-efficacy and daily career choice anxiety.

Emotional Intelligence, Daily Career Decision Self-Efficacy, and Daily Career Choice Anxiety

Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (1999) defined emotional intelligence as "an ability to recognize the meaning of emotions and their relationships, and to reason and problem solve on the basis of them" (p. 267). Emotional intelligence was found to relate to career decision self-efficacy, defined as the extent to which an individual has belief or confidence in his or her career decision ability (Betz, Klein, & Taylor, 1996). Emotional intelligence may have an important role in career decision self-efficacy because individuals with high emotional intelligence have greater competency in integrating emotional experience with thoughts and actions as compared with individuals with low emotional intelligence (Brown et al., 2003; Di Fabio & Palazzeschi, 2009; Di Fabio, Palazzeschi, Asulin-Peretz, & Gati, 2013; Emmerling & Cherniss, 2003). Puffer (2011) argued that emotional intelligence was associated with less dysfunctional career thinking and higher career decision self-efficacy (Di Fabio & Saklofske, 2014). Furthermore, Brown et al. (2003) found that subscales measuring emotional intelligence, including utilization of emotion, empathy, and self-control, were positively related to career decision self-efficacy. Individuals with high emotional intelligence might consistendy show high career decision self-efficacy over time because they might have stronger confidence about making a career decision. In this study, we expected that individuals with high emotional intelligence would show a greater level of career decision self-efficacy in their daily lives.

We expected that emotional intelligence would buffer the effects of career-related anxiety by helping individuals regulate career choice anxiety. Career choice anxiety refers to anxiety experienced when an individual has difficulty with a career choice and cannot commit to a particular career (Jung, Park, & Rie, 2015). Anxiety is considered either as a general trait of one's personality or as an emotional state (Vignoli, 2015). Lower emotional intelligence has been reported to be associated with greater difficulties in career choice (Di Fabio & Palazzeschi, 2008; Di Fabio et al., 2013), which might lead to career choice anxiety. Because individuals with high emotional intelligence have the capacity to effectively solve problems and are less likely than those without high emotional intelligence to be overwhelmed by career decision-making problems (Di Fabio & Kenny, 2012), they might effectively deal with the environmental pressures and demands resulting from various events in daily life. Individuals with high emotional intelligence can deal with negative events efficiently, such that they might experience less career choice anxiety--that is, less anxiety in their daily lives with respect to making career choices. Taken together, we hypothesized the following:

Hypothesis 1: Emotional intelligence positively predicts daily career decision self-efficacy.

Hypothesis 2: Emotional intelligence negatively predicts daily career choice anxiety.

Daily Positive Affect, Emotional Intelligence, Daily Career Decision Self-Efficacy, and Daily Career Choice Anxiety

Isen (1984) argued that individuals try to maximize positive affect and minimize or eliminate negative affect. Emotional intelligence could play a major role in these processes. Individuals with high emotional intelligence are likely to experience more positive affect in their daily lives relative to those with low emotional intelligence because they efficiently deal with psychological and social problems and self-regulate their sentiments (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). The ability to handle various problems arising from mental states and circumstances, a function of emotional intelligence, may contribute to positive affect in daily life. Prior studies have indicated that emotional intelligence predicts positive affect (e.g., Gallagher & Vella-Brodrick, 2008; Gignac, 2006; Palmer, Donaldson, & Stough, 2002).

The experience of positive affect promotes a range of thoughts and actions (Fredrickson, 2001; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). According...

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