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Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Shapers of Children's Aspirations and Career Trajectories

Author(s): Albert Bandura, Claudio Barbaranelli, Gian Vittorio Caprara and Concetta
Source: Child Development, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 2001), pp. 187-206
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1132479
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Child Development, January/February 2001, Volume 72, Number 1, Pages 187-206

Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Shapers of Children's Aspirations

and Career Trajectories
Albert Bandura, Claudio Barbaranelli, Gian Vittorio Caprara, and Concetta Pastorelli

This prospective study tested with 272 children a structural model of the network of sociocognitive influences
that shape children's career aspirations and trajectories. Familial socioeconomic status is linked to children's
career trajectories only indirectly through its effects on parents' perceived efficacy and academic aspirations.
The impact of parental self-efficacy and aspirations on their children's perceived career efficacy and choice is,
in turn, entirely mediated through the children's perceived efficacy and academic aspirations. Children's per-
ceived academic, social, and self-regulatory efficacy influence the types of occupational activities for which
they judge themselves to be efficacious both directly and through their impact on academic aspirations. Per-
ceived occupational self-efficacy gives direction to the kinds of career pursuits children seriously consider for
their life's work and those they disfavor. Children's perceived efficacy rather than their actual academic
achievement is the key determinant of their perceived occupational self-efficacy and preferred choice of work-
life. Analyses of gender differences reveal that perceived occupational self-efficacy predicts traditionality of
career choice.

INTRODUCTION diverse impacts across the lifespan, this ar

sonal development has received surprisingl
A major part of people's daily life is spent in occupa-
tention in developmental psychology. The
tional activities. These pursuits do more than simply
search tested a proposed causal model of t
provide income for one's livelihood. Occupations
of sociocognitive influences governing chil
structure a large part of people's everyday reality and
ceived occupational efficacy and emergi
serve as a major source of personal identity and self-
tional preferences and choices.
evaluation. The occupational roles that people per-
In the social cognitive theory guiding thi
form determine whether their worklife is lastingly
of research, people are self-organizing, pro
challenging and fulfilling, repetitively boring, or bur-
self-regulating agents of their psychosoc
densome and stressful. As an interdependent activity,
ment (Bandura, 1997, 1999). It provides an
occupational pursuits also structure a good part of
planation of career choice and developmen
people's daily social relations. The social intercon-
the mechanisms of human agency, none is
nectedness is another aspect of worklife that contrib-
or pervading than people's perceived self-
utes to people's psychosocial well-being. Moreover,
Unless people believe they can produce de
experiences in the worklife have considerable social
comes by their actions, they have little incen
repercussions on other domains of functioning as
or to persevere in the face of difficulties
well as personal effects. An aversive worklife has det-
other factors may operate as guides and m
rimental spillover effects on family relations, whereas
they are rooted in the core belief that on
a productive, fulfilling worklife has a positive spill-
power to produce effects by one's actions
over on the quality of life in a family (Bandura, 1997;
self-efficacy is, therefore, posited as a pivota
Karasek & Theorell, 1990; Maslach, 1982; Ozer, 1995).
career choice and development.
The choices made during formative periods of de-
Perceived self-efficacy occupies a central ro
velopment shape the course of lives. Such choices de-
causal structure of social cognitive theory
termine which aspects of their potentialities people
ficacy beliefs affect adaptation and change
cultivate, and which they leave undeveloped. The
their own right, but through their impact on
self-development during formative periods fore-
terminants. Such beliefs influence aspir
closes some types of options and makes others realiz-
strength of commitments to them, the quali
able. Among the choices that affect life paths, those
lytic and strategic thinking, level of moti
that center on career choice and development are,
therefore, of special import for the reasons given. Al-
though occupationally relevant choices play
@ 2001 a Society
by the key for Research in Child Developm
All rights reserved.
role in setting the course of lifestyle trajectories with 0009-3920/2001/ 7201-0012

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188 Child Development

perseverance in the face of difficulties and setbacks, in showing that the career interests and pursuits of
resilience to adversity, causal attributions for suc- women are constricted by a sense of inefficacy for
cesses and failures, and vulnerability to stress and de- quantitative activities and skills necessary for occu-
pression (Bandura, 1995, 1997; Locke and Latham, pations traditionally pursued by males (Betz & Hack-
1990; Maddux, 1995; Schwarzer, 1992; Zimmerman & ett, 1983; Hackett, 1995; Lucas, Wanberg, & Zytowski,
Schunk, 1989). Meta-analyses of the magnitude of ef- 1997; Matsui, Ikeda, & Ohnishi, 1989).
fect sizes corroborate the predictiveness of perceived Male college students have an equally high sense
self-efficacy across age and diverse spheres of func- of efficacy for both traditionally male-dominated and
tioning (Holden, 1991; Holden, Moncher, Schinke, & female-dominated occupations. In contrast, female
Barker, 1990; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Stajkovic students judge themselves more efficacious for the
& Luthans, 1998). types of occupations traditionally held by women but
Research with adults confirms that beliefs of per- have a weaker sense of efficacy that they can master
sonal efficacy play a highly influential role in occupa- the educational requirements and job functions of oc-
tional development and pursuits (Bandura, 1997; cupations dominated by males. These differential be-
Betz & Hackett, 1986; Hackett, 1995; Lent, Brown, & liefs in occupational efficacy are especially striking
Hackett, 1994). The higher people's perceived efficacy because the groups do not differ in their actual verbal
to fulfill educational requirements and occupational and quantitative ability on standardized tests (Betz &
roles, the wider the career options they seriously con- Hackett, 1981). Moreover, women have a high sense
sider pursuing, the greater the interest they have in of efficacy for quantitative activities imbedded in ste-
them, the better they prepare themselves education- reotypically feminine activities but low perceived
ally for different occupational careers, and the greater self-efficacy when these same quantitative activities
their staying power in challenging career pursuits. are embedded in scientific pursuits (Betz & Hackett,
People simply eliminate from consideration occupa- 1983; Junge & Dretzke, 1995; Matsui & Tsukamoto,
tions they believe to be beyond their capabilities, 1991).
however attractive the occupations may be. Efficacy There is a rapidly growing body of research on the
beliefs predict occupational choices and level of mas- role of perceived occupational efficacy in career
tery of educational requirements for those pursuits choice and development in young adults, but we
when variations in actual ability, prior level of aca- have little knowledge on how children develop their
demic achievement, scholastic aptitude and voca- sense of occupational efficacy and how it affects the
tional interests are controlled (Brown, Lent, & Larkin, career paths they take. Much of the theorizing on ca-
1989; Lent, Brown, & Larkin, 1984, 1986, 1987; Lent, reer development has centered on progression
Lopez, & Bieschke, 1993). through age-related career stages across the life
Lent, Brown, and Larkin (1987) compared the pre- course (Levinson, 1978; Super, 1992), and matching
dictive power of alternative theories of career choice personality types to occupational activities (Hol-
and pursuits. Perceived self-efficacy predicted occu- land, 1985). The present study examined the multi-
pational choice, preparatory achievement, and perse- faceted sociocognitive origins of children's emerging
verance in the chosen occupational pursuit, whereas belief about their occupational efficacy and its deter-
theories based on personality matching (Holland, minative impact on their career-related choices at a
1985) and consequential thinking about the potential critical educationally branching transition in their
difficulties that given options are likely to present (Ja- lives. The proposed conceptual model of career self-
nis & Mann, 1977) were nonpredictive. In comparison efficacy and choice tested the paths of influence of
with expectancy-value theory (Wheeler, 1983), effi- socioeconomic, familial, self-referent factors and of
cacy beliefs contributed more heavily to occupational academic achievement within a four-linked causal
preferences than outcome expectations, especially for structure. In this conceptual model, familial socio-
women who base their occupational preferences more economic status influences parental perceived effi-
strongly on their perceived efficacy than on the allure cacy and academic aspirations, which, in turn, affect
of the potential benefits the vocations may provide. their children's perceived efficacy, academic aspira-
Wide gender disparities exist in career aspirations tions and scholastic achievement. The children's per-
and pursuits (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987). Although ceived efficacy and academic orientations shape
women make up an increasing share of the work- their perceived efficacy for different types of career
force, not many of them are choosing careers in scien- pursuits, which, in turn, plays a determinative role
tific and technical fields or, for that matter, in a variety in the careers they choose and those they actively
of other occupations that have traditionally been shun. The different forms of children's perceived
dominated by men. The evidence is quite consistent personal efficacy, their perceived occupational effi-

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Bandura et al. 189

cacy, and career choices were conceptually con- body of evidence that parents who believe that t
structed and verified by factor analysis. The specific can affect their children's development are more p
direct and mediated paths of influence posited in active and successful in cultivating their children
this multilinked structural model are specified in competencies than parents who doubt they can
greater detail in the sections that follow. much to influence their children's developmen
The first link in the conceptual model concerns the course (Bandura et al., 1996a; Coleman & Karrak
impact of socioeconomic status on parental efficacy 1997; Elder, 1995; Gross, Fogg, & Tucker, 1995; Kin
and aspirations. In social cognitive theory (Bandura, Elder, 1998; Schneewind, 1995; Teti & Gelfand, 199
1986, 1997), socioeconomic factors affect children's The developmental benefits of parent's beliefs in t
developmental courses principally through their im- efficacy have been verified across different socioe
pact on familial and self-processes. Different lines of nomic statuses and family structures, under cond
research lend support for this agentic mediational tions of economic adversity that severely tax pare
view. In academic development, the impact of socio- resilience, and in different cultural milieus.
economic status of the families on children's level of Self-appraisal of capabilities determines goal as
academic achievement is entirely mediated through rations. Indeed, the stronger the perceived self-effica
parental academic aspirations and children's proso- the higher the goal aspirations people adopt and
cial behavior (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pas- firmer is their commitment to them (Bandura, 19
torelli, 1996a). Elder (1995) has shown that economicLocke & Latham, 1990). Hence, parents with high
hardship affects the course of children's developmentademic efficacy would favor high educational aspi
through its influence on familial processes rather than tions which, in turn, would foster scholastic aspiratio
directly by undermining parents' sense of efficacy toand attainments in their children. Previous research
promote their children's competencies and to protectcorroborates the positive influence of parental aca-
them from risky environments that can compromisedemic aspirations on children's academic aspirations
(Bandura et al., 1996a; Zimmerman, Bandura, &
successful development. Baldwin and his colleagues
similarly found that when variations in parental child Martinez-Pons, 1992), and academic achievement
management practices are controlled, socioeconomic(Bandura et al., 1996a; Entwisle & Hayduk, 1978; Kao
status has no independent effect on children's devel-& Tienda, 1998; Marjoribanks, 1979).
opmental outcomes (Baldwin, Baldwin, Sameroff, & The goals held for others convey to them belief in
Seifer, 1989). In the conceptual model being tested, in-
their capability to fulfill them (Bandura, 1997). Through
creases in socioeconomic status raise parents' beliefsthis persuasory process, parental academic aspira-
in their efficacy to promote their children's academictions can raise their children's perceived self-efficacy
development and the academic aspirations they havefor academic pursuits. Findings are also supportive of
for them. this link in the conceptual model (Bandura et al.,
Parental influence on children's academic devel- 1996a). Academically aspiring parents foster not only
opment has been extensively researched (Bussey &
educational activities, but also development of social
Bandura 1999; Eccles, 1989; Steinberg, 1996), but how and self-management skills conducive to engagement
parents affect their children's career development in has
academic pursuits. Such parental influences help to
received little attention despite its centrality to theraise children's beliefs in their social and self-regula-
paths their children's lives will take. In the second tory efficacy. Moreover, aspiring parents with a strong
pattern of influences in the structural model, parents sense of academic promotive efficacy would discour-
exert their effect on career choice and development age consideration of occupational pursuits relying
mainly through their impact on their children's self- heavily on manual labor or routinized service.
efficacy appraisals, educational aspirations, and scho-The third phase in the proposed conceptual model
lastic achievement. Efficacy beliefs vary across do- specifies how children's perceived self-efficacy and
mains of psychosocial functioning rather than repre- academic aspirations affect scholastic achievement
sent an undifferentiated disposition (Bandura, 1997). and perceived career efficacy. A high sense of efficacy
Because perceived academic efficacy plays a para- for self-regulated learning and mastery of academic
mount role in career choice and preparatory educa- coursework fosters academic aspirations and scholas-
tional development, parents were assessed for their tic achievement (Bandura et al., 1996a; Caprara, Bar-
baranelli, & Pastorelli, 1998; Zimmerman & Bandura,
belief in their efficacy to promote their children's val-
uation and engagement in academic pursuits. It was 1994; Zimmerman et al., 1992). The development of
predicted that parents of high perceived efficacy
complex cognitive competencies requires high sus-
would structure academic activities that enhance tained investment of time and effort in intellectual
pursuits. Heavy engagement in problem behaviors
their children's academic efficacy. There is a growing

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190 Child Development

often results in disengagement from academic activi-reer development depends on a resilient sense of aca-
ties (Bandura et al., 1996a; Dishion, 1990; Hinshaw,demic efficacy that supports and channels efforts
1992; Jessor, Donovan, & Costa, 1991; Patterson, Ca- needed to master requisite occupational competen-
paldi, & Bank, 1991; Rutter, 1979). The link between cies (Bandura, 1997; Lent et al., 1994). It was, there-
perceived efficacy to manage troublesome situations fore, predicted that their impact on self-judged effi-
and problem behavior is also well establishedcacy for the occupational pursuits listed earlier would
(Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996b; be mainly mediated through academic aspirations
Caprara et al., 1998). A high sense of efficacy to ward and achievement. Perceived social self-efficacy was
off peer pressure for transgressive and antisocial ac- expected, however, to have a direct effect as well on
tivities would support academic aspirations and personal efficacy for commercial, sales, and manage-
achievement. Perceived social efficacy promotes sat- rial lines of work, all of which require social facility. It
isfying and supportive interpersonal relationshipswas further predicted that perceived self-efficacy to
(Bandura et al., 1996a; Holahan & Holahan, 1987a, control involvement in transgressive activities would
1987b; Leary & Atherton, 1986; Wheeler & Ladd,contribute to occupational efficacy both directly and
1982). Perceived social efficacy does not, however,through the mediation of academic attainments for
necessarily promote association with peers who are benevolent occupations involving educational and
prosocially and academically oriented. It is in the con-health ministrations and to military and police secu-
text of perceived academic self-efficacy and parental rity vocations that safeguard the public.
academic aspirations that a secure sense of social effi- The occupations the students seriously considered
cacy is likely to foster peer affiliations that help create for their lifework represented eight domains of career
social support for academic achievement. pursuits. These different domains of activities were
There are several pathways through which beliefsbased on the theorizing and research on occupational
of personal efficacy affect the career choice process. typologies (Holland, 1985, 1996), and verified factori-
Self-beliefs of efficacy govern aspirations, self-ally with the children's sample. Many of the occupa-
appraisal of occupational capabilities, level of moti- tions provide various forms of human services. Un-
vation, development of occupational interests, andlike the occupational orientations, which organized
resilience to daunting impediments (Bandura, 1997; perceived self-efficacy by the underlying competencies
Betz & Hackett, 1997; Lent et al., 1994). This prospec- required, career choices were further differentiated by
tive study examined a vast array of career pursuits se-whether the work served primarily commercial, men-
lected on the basis of conceptual analysis and prior toring, medical, educational, manual, or reparative
identification of career structures to represent six dis- purposes. The eight factors included professorial and
tinct spheres of perceived occupational self-efficacy. creative pursuits; medically oriented careers; child
They include scientific-technical; artistic-literary;mentoring and rehabilitative care; merchandising
educational-medical; commercial-managerial; military-and other business-related operations; military and
legal; and agricultural-horticultural. These variouslaw enforcement vocations; agricultural and horticul-
occupational orientations differed in how heavilytural lines of work; service jobs involving waiting on
they draw upon cognitive, social, creative, organiza- customers; and jobs requiring manual labor, mecha-
tional, and manual skills. nized production, and repairative activities.
In the structure of the proposed conceptual model, The following paths of influence between per-
perceived academic self-efficacy would contribute to ceived occupational efficacy and career choices were
a sense of personal efficacy for careers in scientific- posited as the final link in the causal structure of the
technical, educational-medical, artistic-literary, and conceptual model. Children of high scientific-technical
commercial-managerial careers because they all call efficacy would select professorial careers and creative
for advanced knowledge and high-level cognitive architectural and design pursuits, but the technologi-
skills. A strong sense of academic efficacy would en- cally oriented are unlikely to be much attracted to
hance perceived efficacy for the latter types of careers child mentoring and rehabilitative care. It was there-
both directly and through the mediation of academic fore predicted that they would shun occupations
aspirations and scholastic achievement. committed to child mentoring, patient care, and rou-
Perceived social and self-regulatory efficacy would tinized public service. Children of high medical-
operate more as supplementary personal resources ineducational efficacy would choose occupations pro-
the self-appraisal of occupational efficacy for careers viding medical and mentoring services while avoid-
requiring high-level cognitive skills. Sociableness and ing the more mechanized, manual ones. Children
efficacy to curb transgressiveness are, by themselves,who judge themselves to be efficacious in the creative
not enough to ensure occupational attainments. Ca- arts would pick literary and artistic careers as their

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Bandura et al. 191

calling. A high sense of efficacy for business opera- undergo a major transition in which they must choo
tions and management of public services would foster one of seventeen educational systems involving cla
career choices in business and finance and mentoring sical, scientific, or artistic lyceums; profession
and attendant service jobs but disfavor professional schools in the fields of engineering, commerce, or e
medical careers or those placing heavy demands on ucation; or technical schools designed to prepare stu
manual labor. Perceived self-efficacy in the military- dents for particular types of technical, social servic
policing domain encompassed a variety of public pro- or agricultural and horticultural vocations. Care
tective functions performed interdependently with paths are chosen early in the developmental cours
mechanized equipment within hierarchically orga- Perceived career self-efficacy and occupational choic
nized systems. It was predicted that perceived self- were measured before an educational system w
efficacy in this realm of functioning would not only chosen. These choices largely shape the pathways th
foster choice of military and public protection roles, children will follow into adulthood.
but training in service and organizational efficacy This community represents a microcosm of th
would increase consideration of a worklife in busi- larger society; it contains families of skilled worker
ness and instructional fields and those requiring man-
farmers, professionals, and local merchants and the
ual and mechanical competencies. Children with this service staffs. Sixteen percent were in professional
form of perceived efficacy would regard themselves managerial ranks, 41% were merchants or operato
as ill-suited for child-mentoring occupations. of other types of businesses, 20% were skilled work
ers, 21% were unskilled workers, and 2% were re-
Perceived self-efficacy in the agricultural-horticul-
tural sphere encompassed farming (which is heavily tired. The socioeconomic diversity of the sample ad
mechanized), gardening, and the creative worktoofthe generalizability of the findings.
plant nurseries and florists. Children with a self-
This community adheres to a stringent consen
efficacy bent toward a life of cultivating crops and procedure for the conduct of research in the schoo
plants and tending plant life would select agriculturalA research proposal must gain approval from
occupations-manual and mechanized ones, those school council composed of parent and teacher repr
servicing the public, and floral trades tapping cre- sentatives as well as student representatives at the
ative design. junior high and high school levels. In addition, par
Given the gendered traditionality of career orienta-ents must give consent and children are free to de
tions, it was hypothesized that boys would have a to take part if they so choose. Informed conse
higher sense of efficacy for scientific, mechanical, and
was obtained from 100% of the families. The paren
quantitative activities, whereas girls would judge
not only consented to the study but 84% of the mothe
themselves to be more efficacious for social service,
participated in the study themselves. The study w
mentoring, and health-related pursuits. The naturestructured
of to the parents and children as a project
their career choices would be differentiated alongdesigned to gain better understanding of how chil
these sets of perceived capabilities. dren develop.
Children were administered the sets of scales mea
METHOD suring the variables of theoretical interest in thei
classrooms by two female experimenters. The vario
Participants. The participants in this sociocognitive
study were measures were administered over
272 children ranging in age from 11 toperiod
15 years at
of several days. In addition, data on academ
Time 1, with a mean age of 12 years. There were obtained from the children's
were 142
males and 130 females. This longitudinal teachers.
project in-
cludes a staggered, multiple cohort design. Ofself-efficacy.
Perceived the Childrens' beliefs in their
two cohorts at the outset of this prospective study,self-efficacy
134 were measured by 37 items
were sixth graders and 138 were seventh graders. seven
representing The domains of functioning (Bandura,
participants were drawn from two middle 1990; Bandura
schoolsetin al., 1996a). For each item, children
a residential community located near Rome.used a The chil-
5-point response format to rate their belief in
dren enrolled in these schools as well as their mothers their level of capability to execute the designated
and teachers participated in the study. activities.
An Italian site was selected and early adolescence Perceived self-efficacy for academic achievement
made the focus because such a sample is ideally measured the children's belief in their capabilities to
suited for examining the life-course branching power master different areas of coursework. These included
of sociocognitive influences of special theoretical in- mathematics, science, reading and writing language
terest. After completing middle school, the children skills, and social studies. A second set of scales mea-

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192 Child Development

sured perceived self-efficacy for regulating their own to manage one's own learning; master academic sub-
learning activities (Zimmerman et al., 1992). These jects; and fulfill personal, parental, and teachers' aca-
scales assessed children's efficacy to structure envi- demic expectations. The predictive validity of this as-
ronments conducive to learning, to plan and organize pect of children's beliefs in their efficacy is supported
their academic activities, to use cognitive devices to by findings of prior research (Bandura et al., 1996a;
enhance understanding and memory of the material Zimmerman et al., 1992). Perceived Social Self-Efficacy
being taught, to seek out information and get teachers constituted the second factor. The 13 items loading on
and peers to help them with academic problems this factor included perceived capability for peer rela-
when needed, to motivate themselves to do their tionships, self-assertiveness, and leisure-time social
school work, to get themselves to complete scholastic activities. The third factor, Perceived Self-Regulatory Ef-
assignments within deadlines, and to pursue aca- ficacy, was represented by 5 items measuring per-
demic activities when there are other interesting ceived capability to resist peer pressure to engage in
things to do. The item, "How well can you get teach- high-risk activities. The findings of previous research
ers to help you when you get stuck on schoolwork?" corroborate the predictiveness of the latter two forms
measured perceived self-efficacy to enlist enabling of perceived efficacy as well (Bandura et al., 1996b).
social resources. The item, "How well can you study These three factors constituted 20%, 9%, and 7% of
when there are other interesting things to do?" mea- the variance, respectively. The triadic factor structure
sured children's perceived efficacy to motivate them- has been replicated cross-nationally with Italian, Hun-
selves for academic pursuits in the face of competing garian, and Polish children (Pastorelli et al., in press).
attractions. The reliability of the factors of perceived self-
A third set of scales assessed efficacy for leisure efficacy was assessed by the Squared Multiple Corre-
and extracurricular activities involving mainly grouplations of factor scores. Coefficients of .70 or better are
activities. A fourth set of scales assessed children's indicators of stable factors (Tabachnik & Fidell, 1989).
self-regulatory efficacy to resist peer pressure to en-The estimated reliabilities were .89 for academic self-
gage in high-risk activities involving alcohol, drugs, efficacy, .76 for social self-efficacy, and .86 for self-
and transgressive behavior that can get them into regulatory efficacy.
trouble. For example, the following item assessed Parental perceived academic efficacy. Parents' beliefs
perceived self-regulatory efficacy to rebuff pressures in their efficacy to promote their children's intellec-
exerted by peers to drink alcoholic beverages: "How tual development were measured with an eight-item
well can you resist peer pressure to drink beer, wine subscale selected from the multidimensional scales of
or liquor?" perceived parenting efficacy (Bandura, 1990). The
Perceived social self-efficacy measured childrens' items encompassed a diverse set of activities parents
beliefs in their capabilities to form and maintain so- have to manage in promoting their children's aca-
cial relationships, work cooperatively with others, demic development. The mothers completed their
and manage different types of interpersonal conflicts. ratings individually at home. Mothers recorded their
Self-assertive efficacy measured children's beliefs in sense of efficacy on 5-point scales varying in the
their capabilities to voice their opinions, stand up to amount of influence they believed they could exercise
mistreatment or harassment, and refuse unreasonable over their children's development. The scale mea-
requests. "How well can you express your opinions sured the parents' judgments of their personal effi-
when other classmates disagree with you?" is a sam- cacy to promote their children's interest in, and valu-
ple item assessing perceived self-assertive efficacy. ation of, education, to motivate them for academic
Perceived self-efficacy to meet others' expectations pursuits, assist them with their schoolwork, and help
assessed childrens' beliefs in their capabilities to ful- them to stay out of trouble in school. The following
fill what their parents, teachers, and peers expect of sample item measured parents' perceived capability
them and to live up to what they expect of them- to influence their children's schoolwork: "How much
selves. "How well can you live up to what your par- can you do to help your children to work hard at their
ents expect of you?" typifies items in the perceived ef- schoolwork?" Parents with more than one child in the
ficacy domain to fulfill social expectations. sample rated their perceived efficacy and academic
A principal components factor analysis with vari- aspirations separately for each child. Factor analysis
max orthogonal rotation revealed a three-factor struc- of these items revealed a single factor that accounted
ture. The original set of items was therefore restruc- for 55% of the variance. The oL reliability coefficient
tured into three domains of personal efficacy. The first is .87.

factor, Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy, included high Parental and children's academic aspirations. Academic
loading on 19 items measuring perceived capability aspirations and valuation of academic pursuits were

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Bandura et al. 19%

measured by a set of seven items. Children rated on cacy was measured for occupational functions be
5-point scales the importance placed on academic cause occupationally situated execution of integratec
attainments by themselves, their parents, and their competencies involves much more than the sum o
friends and the level of academic performance expec- isolated subskills, and occupational context can makE
tations their parents had for them and they had for a big difference in how subskills play out. For each oc
themselves. In addition, children rated the educa- cupational pursuit, the children used a 6-point re
tional level they expected to complete and the educa- sponse format ranging from very unsure to very sure
tional aspirations their parents had for them. The ed- to rate their belief in their capability that they coulc
ucational levels ranged from completing middle learn to perform successfully the functions requirec
school, high school, specialized technical school, or by the occupations.
some college work to graduating from college. These To determine the factor structure of occupationa
items were combined into an index of academic valu-
self-efficacy, a principal components factor analyse,
ation and aspiration. The mothers completed the fourwith direct Oblimin factor rotation was conducted
relevant items measuring their valuation of academicThe screen test of eigenvalues (Cattell & Vogelmann
activities and the educational aspirations they had for
1977) yielded six factors. The six-factor structure cor
their children. The oa coefficients were .73 and .74 for
responds closely to major career self-efficacy domain,
the child and parental ratings, respectively. identified with adult populations (Lucas et al., 1997
Academic achievement. The children were graded Matsui & Tsukamoto, 1991). One of the factors, repre
by their teachers for their level of academic achieve-
senting Science-Technology Efficacy, comprised a clus
ment in mathematics, science, language, and social
ter of technical and exploratory scientific activitie,
studies both at midyear and at the end of the academic
performed by scientific researchers, engineers, archi
term. For each subject area, the assessment comprised tects, computer programmers and operators, anc
five gradations of academic attainment. The academic technicians in scientific laboratories. A second factor
grades were combined across academic subjects and Education-Medical Efficacy, centered on educationa
the two assessments to provide a composite measure and health services performed by university profes
of academic achievement. The various sociocognitive sors, school teachers, physicians, nurses, dentists, di
factors described earlier were measured before the as- eticians, pharmacists, veterinarians, psychologists
sessments of academic achievement. and physiotherapists. The third factor, Literature-Ar
Children's perceived occupational self-efficacy. TheEfficacy, embodied the literary and artistic activities o
measure of perceived occupational self-efficacy en- novelists, publishers, fashion designers, advertisers
compassed the diverse classes of occupational pur-art critics, and film producers. The Social Service
suits identified in the field of career choice and devel- Managerial Efficacy included the service functions car
opment. The final form of the scale was pared down ried out by business managers, clerks, secretaries, li
to 69 items from a large pool of items and structured
brarians, restaurateurs, sales agents, travel agents anc
factor analytically to ensure good psychometric prop-
tourist guides, and hair stylists. The factor represent
erties. The children were presented with the items,ing Military-Police Efficacy included performance o
which described common occupational pursuits. various military, police, and prison managemen
They represented a wide range of occupational activ-roles as well as firefighting. The final factor is con-
ities, including those traditionally chosen by males cerned with Agriculture-Horticulture Efficacy. The oc-
and by females. The occupational roles were pre-cupational pursuits included farming, operating farn
sented in terms of the major functions characterizing equipment and plant nurseries, growing produce
a given occupation rather than merely by job titles or and raising livestock.
constituent skills (e.g., "Help scientists with labora- The reliability of the factors of perceived occupa
tory work," "Wait on tables in a restaurant," "De- tional self-efficacy was assessed by the Squared Mul
velop ideas for television commercials"). tiple Correlations of factor scores. The initial number,
Job titles are too general and nondescript, and frac- in the following presentation of results represent th(
tionating occupations into constituent subskills and estimated reliabilities and the numbers in parenthe
judging self-efficacy to perform the detached sub- ses are the percent of variance explained. The reliabil
skills can be misleading. Efficacy beliefs may be high ities are .89 for science-technology (11%); .89 for edu
for the subskills but low for their integrated use or cation-medical (13%); .82 for literature-art (6%); .8:
when they subserve difficult occupations. As previ-for social service-managership (10%); .81 for military
ously noted, perceived self-efficacy may be lower forpolice roles (6%); and .87 for agriculture /horticulturn
the same quantitative skills used in technical pursuits(10%). The six occupational self-efficacy factors ac
than when used in nontechnical ones. Personal effi- counted for 56% of the total variance.

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194 Child Development

Occupational choices. Children were presented clerical-sales factor (8%); .82 for the farming-garden-
with the 69 occupational options and rated, for each ing factor (5%); .86 for the service-attendant factor
pursuit, how seriously they would consider choosing (5%); and .79 for the laborer-repairer factor (8%).
it for their lifework. A year later, at Time 2, they rated These eight factors of occupational choice explain
their occupational choices on a 3-point scale to indi- 54% of the total variance.
cate that they would not select the given occupation,
might consider it, or would strongly consider it as RESULTS
their career choice.
A principal components factor analysis with direct Table 1 presents the means and variances for th
Oblimin factor rotation was performed on the chil- ferent sets of variables. It also includes the matrix of
dren's career choices. The analysis yielded eight clus- relationships among the various sociocognitive fac-
ters of occupational choices. Occupational choice tors and perceived occupational self-efficacy and ca-
yielded a broader factor structure than did perceived reer choice. There was little age variance and no sig-
occupational self-efficacy because some of the capa- nificant age correlates were found for any of the
bilities could serve diverse career paths as, for exam- variables. Significant gender differences were ob-
ple, perceived self-efficacy for social service subserv- tained on a number of the assessed factors. The de-
ing medical, educational, mercantile, and police roles. grees of freedom for these F values are 1 and 270.
One career cluster encompassed higher educational The children did not differ in their overall per-
and creative pursuits represented by professorial, liter- ceived academic self-efficacy, but microanalyses of
ary, architectural, artistic, television, and fashion de- different facets of the scholastic domain revealed gen-
sign careers. A second cluster involved medically ori- der differences that bear special relevance to per-
ented careers in the fields of medicine, dentistry, ceived career self-efficacy and choice. Boys had a
nursing, pharmacology, and biological research. A higher sense of efficacy for mathematics, F = 6.29, p <
third cluster of careers, child mentoring-rehabilitative .02, and geographic science, F = 4.13, p < .05, whereas
care, centered on serving others through teaching at girls judged themselves more efficacious for language
the nursery school level, mentoring children with coursework, F = 9.05, p < .01. Girls also judged them-
special problems, and providing rehabilitative care. A selves more efficacious to regulate different aspects of
clerical-sales occupational cluster centered on clerical, their own learning activities. In terms of specific self-
sales, and other business services. The sample occu- regulatory strategies, girls surpassed boys in their
pations included bankers, accountants, office person- perceived capabilities to create an environment con-
nel, and sales agents in real estate, merchandise, in- ductive to learning, F = 4.05, p < .05, to motivate
surance, and the automobile business. A military- themselves for scholastic activities, F = 3.71, p = .05,
policing occupational cluster encompassed doing to plan, F = 4.53, p < .04, and organize, F = 5.65, p <
work in the armed forces and the police forces, serv- .02, their scholastic activities and to abstract instruc-
ing as security guards, and conducting investigative tional material, F = 11.13, p < .001. Although girls
inquiries. Another cluster, involving farming and gar- gained higher scholastic attainments than did boys,
dening pursuits, represented agricultural jobs such as the difference fell short of statistical significance.
cultivating plants in nurseries, growing produce, and There were no overall gender differences in per-
tending trees. The waiter-attendant cluster included ceived social efficacy because a higher sense of effi-
service and attendant jobs in restaurants, cafeterias, cacy for boys in some social facets was offset by
and hotels. The final occupational cluster is heavily higher perceived efficacy for girls in other facets. Boys
oriented toward jobs requiring manual labor, mecha- judged themselves more efficacious in managing the
nized production and reparative activities. Sample jobs social aspects of athletic teams, F = 10.30, p < .001,
include doing mechanized factory work; doing man- whereas girls judged themselves more socially effica-
ual construction; repairing appliances, radios, and cious to make and keep friends of the same sex, F =
television sets; arranging produce in stores; and ser- 7.89, p < .005, and opposite sex, F = 28.52, p < .001,
vicing automobiles in gas stations. to carry on social conversations, F = 3.92, p < .05, and
The reliability of the factors using the Squared work cooperatively in groups, F = 5.57, p < .02. The
Multiple Correlations of factor scores for the various children did not differ by gender in their perceived
occupational choices and the percent of variance ac- self-efficacy to resist peer pressure for transgressive
counted for are as follows: .72 for the professional- activities.

creative factor (5%); .83 for the medically-oriented The gender differences in perceived career self-
factor (7%); .84 for the educational-care factor (8%); efficacy reflect the continued gendered differentiation
.91 for the military-police factor (10%); .82 for the of occupational pathways. Boys had a higher sense of

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Bandura et al. 195

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196 Child Development

efficacy than girls for careers in science and technol- sessed at Time 2 one year later. Because of gender dif-
ogy, F = 16.94, p < .001, and service in military and ferences in some of the factors, the analysis of the struc-
tural model was conducted by using the multiple
police forces, F = 42.70, p < .001. Girls, in turn, judged
themselves to be more efficacious for careers in edu- groups model approach, which estimated simulta-
cational and health-related fields, F = 20.72, p < .001, neously the same pattern of relations among vari-
and occupational activities involving social services ables in the two samples of boys and girls. In this
and office management work, F = 12.38, p < .001. approach, equivalence among different samples is
Some of the occupational choices also differed by evaluated by constraints that impose identical esti-
gender. Boys were more likely than girls to seriously mates for the model's parameters (Byrne, 1994; Scott-
consider managership jobs in financial and sales or- Lennox & Scott-Lennox, 1995). In EQS the plausibil-
ganizations, F = 7.14, p < .01, military and police ity of these equality constraints is examined by the
forces, F = 27.28, p < .001, and vocations requiring Lagrange Multipliers (LM) test (Bentler, 1995). For
manual labor, mechanized production, and repara- each of the constraints specified, the LM test provides
tive work, F = 23.63, p < .001. Girls, on the other evidence that the constraint applies to the popula-
hand, gave higher consideration than boys to careers tions involved. In the present study, the equality con-
in elementary education, child mentoring, and pa- straints were imposed on path coefficients across the
tient rehabilitative care, F = 37.97, p < .001. gender groups.
Paths of influence. The posited structural model of The path coefficients significant beyond the p < .05
occupational efficacy and choice was tested on the co- significance in the structural equation modeling are
variance matrix by using the EQS program (Bentler, presented in Figure 1. All of the predictive factors
1995). The parental and children's perceived efficacy were measured at Time 1 and only the career choice
and academic aspirations, level of academic achieve- was measured at Time 2.
ment, and perceived occupational self-efficacy were Socioeconomic status has no direct effect either on
assessed at Time 1 and their career choices were as- children's perceived self-efficacy, academic aspira-

18 Attendant

Science -.19 .19

14 Technology Professor
Children's efficacy Writer
academic .20 .209 ( Designer
efficac . 17.17 Mdu ation 1 920 Doctor
Parent's ef Pharmacist
ef eficacy ? aspirations _228 Literary 2 21
/ \ "..Z) / 0 Medical ) /'

Art Teacher
25 .25
5hildren's -S09 Patient
social 21
2 2u 2 Social Service
Man ership O8 Military
"1 .57.5 efficac Police Work
arent s .57 50.53Academi c32
aspirations Military
Police Roles Clerical
6 hildrens efficacy Sales Work
efficacy Agriculture
Horticulture .41 .41 Farmer
efficac ,v Gardener


Figure 1 Path analysis of the patterns of influence through which socioeconomic status, parental aspirations and perceived effi-
cacy to promote academic development, and children's perceived self-efficacy, aspirations, and academic achievement affect chil-
dren's perceived occupational efficacy and career choices. The first path coefficient on each of the structural links is for girls; the
second coefficient is for boys. All the path coefficients are significant beyond the p < .05 level except that, for boys, perceived so-
cial and managerial efficacy is unrelated to teaching and patient care, and efficacy for military and police roles is unrelated to doc-
toring and nursing. For girls, agricultural and horticultural efficacy is unrelated to manual and technical reparative work. These
nonsignificant path coefficients are printed in italic type. The coefficients with an asterisk on the paths differ significantly across

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Bandura et al. 197

tions and achievement, perceived occupational effi- cupational efficacy in their beliefs about their ac
cacy, or occupational choices. Its impact is mediated demic capabilities rather than their actual academ
entirely through its influence on parental perceived achievement. The only class of pursuits where ac
academic efficacy and educational aspirations. The demic achievement made a difference in perce
higher the family's socioeconomic status, the stronger occupational efficacy was for social service and m
the parents' beliefs in their efficacy to promote their agership roles. Perceived efficacy for agricultural
children's academic development and the higher the horticultural occupations was unrelated to the so
educational aspirations they have for them. Parents' cognitive factors. Agricultural pursuits vary wid
beliefs in their efficacy to foster their children's edu- in the extent to which they call on cognitive skills
cability also raises academic aspirations for their pending on whether the functions are perform
children. mainly manually or with complicated machine
Parental aspirations are positively linked to all Such pursuits do not call much for interperso
three forms of children's perceived self-efficacy-- skills. Whether perceived academic self-efficacy m
academic, social, and self-regulatory. The aspirations be linked to efficacy for the more technologicall
parents hold for their children also have a strong im- based agricultural vocations remains to be det
pact on their children's academic aspirations and mined.
level of academic achievement. The impact of paren- The different types of perceived occupational self-
tal aspirations on their children's perceived occupa- efficacy were predictive of both adoption and rejec-
tional efficacy is entirely mediated through their tion of particular classes of career pursuits. Children
children's perceived self-efficacy and academic achieve- of high perceived scientific and technological efficacy
ment. Neither parents' perceived efficacy nor aca- chose career pursuits embracing professorial and cre-
demic aspirations have any direct effect on their chil- ative activities but shunned those involving child
dren's career considerations. mentoring, patient caretaking, and routinized social
services. They also favored technical occupations re-
All three forms of children's perceived self-efficacy
contribute to their beliefs in their occupational effi-quiring less in the way of cognitive skills, such as jobs
cacy, but perceived academic self-efficacy hasinvolving the mechanized production and technical re-
most diverse impact. Children who have a secure parative work. Those of high educational and medi-
sense of academic efficacy judge themselves to becal ef-efficacy selected medically oriented occupations,
ficacious for careers in science and technology, educa-helping others through mentoring and rehabilitative
tional and medical fields, artistic and literary pur- care, but eschewed a worklife of clerical and sales ac-
suits, and management of business and social service tivities. Social service and managership efficacy had
systems. In addition to its direct effects, children's be-
multiple links to socially oriented occupations vary-
liefs in their academic capabilities fosters a senseing ofin the type of social ministration and directive-
efficacy for these higher level occupational pursuits ness they required. Thus, children of high efficacy in
through its impact on academic aspirations and level this career domain were attracted to occupations of-
of academic achievement. Moreover, perceived fering aca- business, retail, secretarial and recreational ser-
demic efficacy has an impact on perceived efficacy for vices, caring for patients, and waiting on people in
management of businesses and social service systems hotels and restaurants. This efficacy domain also had
by influencing children's level of academic achieve- a gendered effect on career choice. Girls who judged
ment. The mediation through academic achievement themselves to be efficacious for social service chose
is stronger for girls than for boys. Perceived academicoccupations offering child mentoring and patient
efficacy also affects perceived efficacy for military care,
and but boys did not. A sense of literary and artistic
police roles but only indirectly through its influence efficacy had both positive and negative impact on ca-
on academic aspirations. reer choice: it supported creative pursuits but dis-
Children's beliefs in their social efficacy heightensuaded involvement in vocations centered on agricul-
tural activities and routinized public service.
their perceived efficacy for careers in science, technol-
ogy, education, medicine, and art and literature only Perceived self-efficacy for the functions performed
indirectly through academic aspirations. Children's in military and police roles also had a gendered occu-
pational link. Efficacy in this domain promoted
perceived self-efficacy to resist social pressures for en-
gagement in transgressive activities is positively
choice of military and legal enforcement activities,
linked to a high sense of efficacy for social service and
but girls with this form of efficacy also favored medi-
managership roles that require responsibility for cally
or- oriented occupations such as nursing and doc-
ganizational functions and the welfare of others. toring, which are a vital part of medical services,
Interestingly, children grounded their sense of whereas
oc- boys did not.

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198 Child Development

Children who have a high sense of efficacy for ag- ment. That socioeconomic influences are
ricultural and horticultural activities chose occupa- mediated through their impact on parenta
tions in farming and gardening and service jobs in nitive orientations is consistent with findi
which they wait on customers. They also selected ing developmental outcomes in other
other types of manual occupations requiring physical childhood functioning (Baldwin et al., 198
and mechanical skills. The latter occupational link is et al., 1996a; Elder, 1995).
stronger for boys than for girls. The more strongly parents believe that
The preceding analyses traced the patterns of ca- play a part in their children's scholastic de
reer preferences and aversions associated with partic- the higher the educational aspirations th
ular forms of perceived occupational efficacy. Several them. These findings also concur with a
of the classes of occupations involved human ser- of evidence that a strong sense of efficacy
vices, but they were distinguished by the types of high aspirations in both children and adult
services provided. The personal forms of perceived 1997; Locke & Latham, 1990). The impact
efficacy underpinning the perceived occupational ef- aspirations on children's judgments of
ficacy seemed to be an influential determinant of pational efficacy and career choice is ent
whether children would gravitate toward medical, ated through the effect on children's self-
educational, business, manual, or attendant types of of efficacy, academic aspirations, and ach
services. Aspiring parents act in ways that build t
Tests for the goodness of fit of the trimmed struc- dren's academic, social, and self-regulator
tural model to the empirical data using different indi- raise their aspirations, and promote their
ces yielded results that fell within the range indicat-achievements.
ing a good model fit. The various tests yielded The a patterning of children's perceived efficacy in-
Comparative Fit Index (CFI) of .96, a Normed Fit fluences
In- the types of occupations for which they be-
dex (NFI) of .94, a Nonnormed Fit Index (NNFI)lieve of they have the capabilities, which, in turn, is
.96, a Root Mean Square Error of Approximation linked to the kinds of career pursuits they would
(RMSEA) of .026, and a X2(342, N = 272) = 402.30, p choose
= for their life's work. Thus, children of high
.02. The dependence, however, of the X2 statisticperceived
on academic efficacy achieve good academic
sample size makes it a less sensitive test with large progress and have high educational aspirations and a
samples, which often produces a significant value
strong sense of efficacy for scientific, educational, lit-
erary, and medical pursuits. They favor career levels
when, in fact, there is a good fit. The X2 / dfis a fit index
in these fields that require advanced educational de-
that weights the X2 statistic by the degrees of freedom.
The ratio of 1.18 indicates a good fit to the model.velopment. In accord with the conceptual model, chil-
The percent of variance in career choice accounted dren's beliefs in their academic efficacy had the most
for by the model is R2 = .20 for professorial-creative pervasive direct impact on their judgments of their
fields, R2 = .20 for elementary education-health care occupational efficacy. In addition, perceived aca-
vocations, R2 = .15 for occupational choices in manual- demic efficacy affects perceived occupational capabil-
reparative vocations, to R2 = .24 for military-police ities through its impact on academic aspirations.
work, R2 = .11 for medically related professions, R2 Perceiving
= oneself to be socially efficacious does
not, in itself, shape occupational trajectories. It oper-
.12 for jobs in the clerical-sales realms, R2 = .16 for ag-
ricultural lines of work, and R2 = .20 for jobs attend- ates, however, through academic aspirations in raising
ing to the general public. perceived efficacy for the occupational pursuits de-
scribed earlier. Nor does perceived efficacy to control
DISCUSSION transgressiveness operate directly on perceived occu-
pational self-efficacy. Rather, its impact is mediated
The findings of this prospective study through academic
provide achievement. Good self-regulators
stantial empirical support for thedoposited causal and view their capabilities as
better academically
structure through which socioeconomic, well familial,
suited for social
aca-service and managership roles,
demic, and self-referent influences operate in concert
which require a sense of responsibility for the welfare
to shape children's career trajectories.ofIn others and adherence
accord with to organizational standards.
the conceptual model, familial socioeconomic For these occupational
status pursuits, efficacious self-
had only an indirect effect on children's perceived
management was more important than just perceived
occupational efficacy and career choice by raising
parental educational aspirations and belief
The in their findings
aggregate ef- of this study reveal that the
ficacy to promote their children's academic
patterning develop-
of children's perceived occupational self-

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Bandura et al. 199

efficacy shapes not only the types of career pursuits academic performance) and from different source
they favor, but also the occupational level they select (the participants themselves, their parents, an
within a given type of service vocation and the types teachers). This diversity of assessment reduces com
of worklife they disfavor. The accelerated pace of in- mon method and source biases. The self-efficacy an
formational, social, and technological change is alter- other psychosocial predictors were measured befor
ing the nature of careers from the traditional linear academic achievement. The staggered design in
progression models grounded in environmental sta- cluded two sets of cohorts to provide diversity
bility to dynamic models of multiform career adapt- sample and contextual period of assessment. More-
ability to rapidly transforming environments (Sulli- over, a number of the key paths of influence posit
van, 1999). The new demands for repeated self- in the conceptual scheme have been previously ver
renewal are placing a premium on a firm sense of ef- fied both through experimental modification of se
ficacy for occupational self-development throughout efficacy beliefs and by causal modeling of natural
one's worklife (Bandura, 1997, 2001). occurring relationships (Bandura, 1997; Bandura
The structural linkages of the sociocognitive fac- al., 1996a; Schunk, 1995; Wood & Bandura, 1989; Zim
tors to each other and to perceived occupational self- merman & Bandura, 1994; Zimmerman et al., 1992
efficacy did not differ as a function of gender; how- Children made their career choices a year after the so-
ever, gendered traditionality of career choice emerged ciocognitive predictors were assessed. These variou
in the translation of perceived occupational self- features remove some of the ambiguity concernin
efficacy to career choice. For example, high social ser- the direction of causation and provide convergi
vice and managership efficacy was equally promotive supportive evidence from divergent lines of resear
of office and sales work across gender status, but this for the paths of influence.
form of efficacy also fostered choice of careers in child The main disparity between the postulated struc
mentoring and patient rehabilitative care in girls but tural model and the empirical data was in the medi
not in boys. Traditionality of gendered pursuits is also tional role of academic achievement in career self-
interestingly reflected in the attraction to aspects of efficacy. It was hypothesized that the impact
roles within multifaceted occupational domains. For children's perceived academic and self-directive eff
example, girls chose careers in nursing but boys did cacy on beliefs about their capabilities for occup
not. Thus, perceived efficacy for military service pro- tional pursuits requiring higher order cognitive ski
moted career choice in doctoring and nursing in girls would be partly mediated through their level of ac
but did not attract boys to these functional roles; boys demic achievement. The direct path of influence fro
were more oriented to the operational and combat as- perceived academic self-efficacy to perceived caree
pects of a military career. High perceived efficacy for self-efficacy was verified. But academic achievemen
agricultural pursuits, where machines now do much mediated only perceived self-efficacy for mercanti
of the work, was more likely to lead boys than girls to and managership activities in business organization
choose occupations involving mechanized factory The failure of academic achievement to add predic
production, manual labor, and technical reparative tive value was unexpected. It seems that in this pha
of their educational development, children view the
Similar types of competencies may serve pursuits scholastic subject matters as having little relevance
at different career levels. Thus, a high sense of efficacy the functions and roles of different career pursuit
for scientific and technological callings supports not Hence, they apparently discount how well they do
only advanced educational and scientific pursuits, scholastically in judging their occupational efficac
but also vocations requiring technical competencies The predictive superiority of perceived academic sel
such as repairing household appliances, radios, and efficacy over actual academic performance is in ac
televisions. Efficacy beliefs steer children not only to- cord with a now-growing body of evidence across di
ward careers that match their perceived capabilities, ferent spheres of functioning. People's motivation
but away from vocations that call for quite different future accomplishments, and affective states are go
types of competencies. For example, children who erned more by their perceived self-efficacy than b
view themselves as technologically efficacious avoid their prior performances (Bandura, Adams, & Beyer
vocations that serve people in hotels and restaurants 1977; Bandura, Pastorelli, Barbaranelli, & Caprar
or who mentor and care for children. 1999; Collins, 1982; Litt, 1988; Schunk, 1984; Wood
A number of methodological features of this pro- Bandura, 1989; Zimmerman et al., 1992).
spective study add to the reliability of the obtained re- It would be recalled that perceived social and self
lationships. Data for the different classes of variables regulatory efficacy were considered to be a supple
were obtained by different methods (self-report and mental contributor to career paths because neither s

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200 Child Development

ciableness nor transgressive restraint will necessarily social status and the various social costs and benefits
spawn occupational attainments; however, the lack of associated with different occupations; and the self-
any residual direct influence on perceived efficacy for evaluative outcomes that take the form of pride and
socially oriented occupations after taking into ac- self-satisfaction derived from one's work or self-
count the influence of other sociocognitive contribu- devaluation over some of the adverse things the occu-
tors was another source of disparity with the struc- pations require one to do to succeed. The potential
tural model. In affective and interpersonal spheres of costs and benefits are weighed in terms of personal
functioning, perceived self-regulatory and social effi- values that are reflected in career priorities. It should
cacy operate as direct as well as mediating influences be noted that the directive and motivating potential
(Bandura et al., 1999; Bandura, Caprara, Barbaranelli, of outcome expectancies is partly governed by beliefs
Pastorelli, & Regalia, 2000). In self-appraisal of occu- of personal capabilities (Bandura, 1997). Many occu-
pational capabilities, however, both social and self- pational activities, if done well, provide highly valued
regulatory efficacy come into play through their im- outcomes, but they are not pursued by people who
pact on aspirations and academic achievement. This seriously doubt they have what it takes to succeed
may be because the same capability can subserve dif- (Betz & Hackett, 1986).
ferent types of occupations, such as social facility in Another set of determinants is concerned with per-
child mentoring or organizational managership, de- ceived opportunity structures and social and institu-
pending on career aspirations and the forms of aca- tional impediments. The enabling aspects include the
demic preparation they require. availability of requisite material resources, ease of en-
In previous research analyzing the pattern of influ- try into given occupations, and the opportunities they
ences governing children's academic achievement, provide for self-development, advancement, and use
parents' beliefs in their academic promotive efficacy of one's particular talents. The impediments repre-
enhanced their children's beliefs in their academic ca- sent the informal and institutional barriers erected to
pabilities both directly and mediationally through the entry and advancement in given career pursuits. For
educational aspirations parents held for their chil- example, vestiges of sex segregation of women in po-
dren (Bandura et al., 1996a). In the current research, sitions of lower status continue to impose obstacles to
parents' perceived academic efficacy was linked to their pursuit of higher level careers and advancement
children's academic self-beliefs solely through paren- in them, especially in those that have been tradition-
tal aspirations. This finding suggests that, within the ally dominated by men (Bussey & Bandura, 1999;
context of career development, self-efficacious parents Eccles & Hoffman, 1984; Jacobs, 1989; Stockard &
are most likely to enhance their children's academic Johnson, 1992).
self-beliefs by expressing their promotive efficacy The present study was primarily aimed at clarify-
through high aspirations. Expressions of aspiration ing how socioeconomic conditions, parents' and chil-
convey faith in their children's academic capabilities. dren's educational aspirations, and perceived efficacy
In choosing career paths, children are projecting far in and scholastic accomplishments operate in concert in
the future. After controlling for variations in chil- shaping children's beliefs about their occupational ef-
dren's beliefs in their occupational efficacy, which are ficacy, career considerations, and actual preparatory
rooted in their perceived academic efficacy, parental choices. Having verified the impact of these core fac-
aspirations remain as the significant contributors to tors on career trajectories, further tests of social cogni-
children's perceived academic efficacy. tive theory that encompass occupational outcome ex-
Children's aspirations and beliefs in their personal pectations, the value placed on those outcomes, and
efficacy accounted for a significant share of the vari- perceived opportunity structures and impediments
ance in career choice, but a fair amount of variance re- should account for an even larger share of the vari-
mains unexplained. In social cognitive theory, per- ance in career choice and development.
ceived efficacy and aspirations are by no means the The contribution of perceived self-efficacy to ca-
whole story. These factors operate in conjunction with reer choice has important bearing as well on theoreti-
other sociocognitive contributors to the courses of ac- cal conceptions of decision making. According to
tion taken. For example, the types of perceived bene- expectancy-value theories, people judge the instru-
fits provided by given occupational pursuits and the mentality of possible options, weigh their costs and
costs they entail contribute to career choice and devel- benefits, and then select the course of action with the
opment (Lent, Lopez, & Biesche, 1991; Wheeler, 1983). highest expected value (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980;
These outcome expectations may be material ones Feather, 1982; Vroom, 1964). Instrumental value and
in the form of monetary rewards and burdensome- outcome considerations are only a part of the basis of
ness of task demands; social outcomes in the form of choice, and even the weighting of these factors is car-

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Bandura et al. 201

ried out quite inefficiently (Behling & Starke, 1973; cal fields (Betz, 1994). Such findings suggest that
Brandt, 1979; Simon, 1978). People act on their beliefs foreclosure of career options may rest more hea
about what they can do as well as their beliefs about on perceived inefficacy and sociostructural encum
the likely outcomes of various courses of action brances than on background preparation.
(Bandura, 1997; Lent et al., 1994). The findings of the Diverse lines of research lend support to the gen
present study indicate that self-efficacy beliefs deter- alizability of the findings and to the cross-cultural ap
mine the slate of options given serious consideration. plicability of the theory. There may be greater gend
People do not regard options in domains of perceived differentiation in Italian society. The studies cited pr
inefficacy as worth considering, whatever benefits viously, however, reveal a large gender gap in pe
they may hold. Such exclusions of large classes of op- ceived occupational self-efficacy and career consid
tions are made rapidly on self-efficacy grounds with ations among students in American high schools
little thought of costs and benefits. colleges and in the careers pursued in the workfo
Perceived efficacy not only sets the slate of options Occupational pursuits cluster in much the same w
for consideration, but also influences other aspects of for American, Italian, and Japanese samples (H
decision making. It affects what information is col- land, 1996; Matsui & Tsukamoto, 1991). With rega
lected, how the considered factors are weighted, to the generality of the theory, cross-national resear
whether the opportunities or the risks of given pur- yields essentially the same factor structures for c
suits are given salience, and the extent to which deci- dren's self-efficacy beliefs in Poland, Hungary, and I
sions are swayed by a foreshortened or extended time aly (Pastorelli, in press). Moreover, efficacy beliefs op
perspective (Bandura, 1997; Blustein, 1989; Eppel, erate similarly in the causal structures for Korea
Bandura, & Zimbardo, 1999; Kreuger & Dickson, Italian, and American children (Bandura et al., 199
1993, 1994; Urekami, 1996). Making a decision is only Kwak & Bandura, 1999; Zimmerman et al., 1992).
part of the operation that in no way ends decisional Diverse lines of research provide converging ev
processes. Implementing a decision and sticking to it, dence of societal practices that undermine wome
especially in the face of difficulties, are essential as- sense of efficacy in academic domains critical to
pects of an agentic theory of decision making that rest reer choice and development (Bandura, 1997; Hack
heavily on beliefs of personal efficacy (Bandura, & Betz, 1981). Low interest and inadequate prepar
1997). Having chosen a course of action, one must tion in mathematics is an especially serious barri
continue to make decisions during its implementa- because it filters out a large number of career opt
tion. A comprehensive psychology of decision mak- requiring quantitative competencies (Sells, 1982).
ing thus requires a psychology of action (Harr6, 1983) males enroll in significantly fewer mathematics,
grounded in enabling and sustaining efficacy beliefs. ence, and computer courses at the more advan
Indeed, students of high perceived self-efficacy not levels; have less interest in these subjects; and vi
only act on their cognized preferences but stick it out them as less useful to their lives than do their m
through tough times in preparing themselves for oc- counterparts (American Association of Univers
cupations presenting daunting challenges (Lent et al., Women Educational Foundation, 1998; Bussey
1986, 1987). Bandura, 1999).
As in the case of adults, the findings of the present Boys and girls do not differ initially in their p
study show that gender is significantly associated ceived mathematical capabilities, but girls begin
with perceived occupational efficacy, career choice, lose confidence in their math ability and differ
and preparatory development. The differences follow creasingly from boys in this regard as they move
the stereotypic courses, with boys judging themselves high school. These declines in self-appraisal h
more efficacious for careers in science and technology their origins partly in parents' gender-linked beli
and girls reporting a higher sense of efficacy for so- about their children's capabilities. Parents genera
cial, educational and health services. The findings subscribe to the cultural stereotype that girls are
show that gender status affects occupational choices talented in mathematics than boys, despite equiv
stereotypically as well. These differences in perceived lent grades in mathematics (Eccles, 1989; Entwisl
occupational self-efficacy and choice are all the more Baker, 1983; Lummis & Stevenson, 1990; Phillip
telling because girls perform academically as well as Zimmerman, 1990).
boys. American college students exhibit the same The gender bias operates in classrooms as well
gendered pattern (Betz & Hackett, 1981). Recent evi- in homes and creeps into career guidance functio
dence shows that girls are catching up with boys in (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987; Dweck, Davidson, Nels
coursework in math and science in high school, but & Enna, 1978). When subjected to the same level
girls are still shunning careers in scientific and techni- failure in mathematical activities, female students

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202 Child Development

judge themselves less efficacious and treat them- populations indicate that our society will have to rely
selves more harshly than do male students (Campbell increasingly on the talents of women and ethnic mi-
& Hackett, 1986). Given the negative stereotyping ofnorities to maintain its scientific, technological, and
mathematic abilities in women, they perform poorer economic viability. Our societal response to the dis-
on mathematical tests represented as sensitive to gen- cordance between occupational socialization prac-
der status, but not when portrayed as insensitive to tices and the human resources needed for technolog-
gender status (Steele, 1997). ical and economic progress is to draw heavily on
The peer system is another influential agency thatforeign nationals rather than cultivate broadly the sci-
creates further validation for the gender stereotypesentific and high-tech capabilities of our youth.
of differential capability (Bussey & Bandura, 1999; In acknowledging the influential role of perceived
Mazzella, Durkin, Cerini, & Buralli, 1992). Anotherself-efficacy in gender differences in career aspira-
major social influence is the stereotypic cultural mod-tions and pursuits, we should not lose sight of the fact
eling of gender roles in the television world (Furn- that inequitable educational practices, cultural con-
ham & Bitar, 1993; Kortenhaus & Demarest, 1993; Si- straints, disparate incentive systems, and truncated
gnorielli, 1990). Moreover, the gendered practices ofopportunity structures are important contributors to
familial, educational, peer, and media subsystems are women's career development. It should also be noted
essentially replicated in organizational structures and that there is substantial diversity within sexes. Nei-
practices. These include extensive segregation of jobs ther boys nor girls are a uniform group. Therefore,
along gender lines, concentration of women in lower modal gender characteristics in perceived self-efficacy
level positions, inequitable wages for comparableshould not be imputed to all members within each sex
performance, greater impediments for upper level group. Indeed, women who take a more egalitarian
mobility, and power imbalances in work relation- view toward the roles of women display a higher
ships that erect barriers to equitable participation in sense of efficacy for traditionally male occupations
organizational activities (Bussey & Bandura, 1999; and pursue such careers more often (Hackett, 1985).
Eccles & Hoffman, 1984; Jacobs, 1989; Stockard & They construct different identities and futures for
Johnson, 1992). themselves.
Because women are disinclined to choose careers The self-efficacy component of social cognitive the-
in scientific and technical fields traditionally domi-
ory does more than identify a contributory factor to
nated by men, such occupations lack female role career development. The theory provides the means
models to inspire and encourage women to enter for enhancing the personal source of control over the
course of one's self-development (Bandura, 1997).
these career paths. The disparity in perceived efficacy
for male-dominated and female-dominated occupa- The findings of the current study suggest that chil-
tions is largest for women who adopt the stereotypicdren's career trajectories are getting crystallized
rather early in the developmental process. Hence, ef-
gender role, have self-doubts about their quantitative
forts to reduce sociostructural biases that constrict
capabilities, and believe there are few successful fe-
male models in traditionally male-dominated occu- women's career development require early interven-
pations (Matsui, Ikeda, & Ohmishi, 1989). To the ex-tion. Modeling supplemented with guided mastery
tent that stereotypic masculine attributes suchexperiences
as provides an especially effective vehicle
aggressiveness and competitiveness are considered
for building resilient self-efficacy. In efforts to reduce
essential for success in given occupations, women
gender disparities arising from impairing self-beliefs,
who have not adopted these types of attributes ex- this approach instills a strong sense of efficacy and
skill in domains of educational and occupational ac-
press a lower sense of efficacy for such fields (Matsui
& Onglatco, 1991). This is true even for occupationstivities in which many women are beset with self-
doubt (Betz & Schifano, 2000; Gist, Schwoerer, &
that do not require technical and quantitative skills.
The traditionality of children's gendered occupa-Rosen, 1989; Schunk & Lilly, 1984).
tional efficacy, with boys oriented toward scientificBeneficial gender role development is a social mat-
and technological activities and girls toward socialter, not just a personal one. Handicapping practices
that are built into societal subsystems require social
service, has important social implications. Sociostruc-
tural practices lag far behind the changing statusremedies.
of The social efforts must address the expecta-
women and their growing participation in the work- tions, belief systems, and social practices in the home,
force (Bandura, 1997; Riley, Kahn, & Foner, 1994). As a mass media, and workplace that not only di-
result, women's potential and their contribution minish
to personal efficacy and aspirations but erect in-
the scientific and economic life of a society are not
stitutional impediments to making the most of one's
fully realized. The demographic changes in college talents. Such efforts, however, do not have the singu-

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Bandura et al. 203

lar aim of pushing women into nontraditional ca- lescent competence. Paper presented at the Biennial M
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