Investigating the Cognitive Theories of Career Development

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate, Department of Business Management, Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accounting, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

2 Associate Prof., Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economics, Management & Accounting, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

3 Assistant Prof., Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accounting, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran


Objective: There are several theories proposed on the career development and researchers have classified these theories in different categories. Career-related cognitive theory is one of the latest categories including two theories: social cognitive theory of career development and cognitive information processing. The current study seeks to compare these two cognitive theories of career development by identifying the criteria for comparison of theories.
Methods: The present study is a practical research from goal perspective, is an exploratory survey in nature and methodologically is categorized in the field of mixed research. To collect data, a sample of 20 academic experts and active managers in human resource management and career development were interviewed.
Results: To execute the research, 34 criteria were identified based on theoretical foundations and 12 criteria were agreed upon according to experts' opinions; finally, the two theories were compared using a fuzzy Delphi technique and those criteria.
Conclusion: The results showed that social cognition of career development theory mostly emphasizes on environment, future, and generalizability respectively, while cognitive information processing theory mainly emphasizes on the job, individual, process, and the organization.


Arefnejad, M., Sepahvand, R. (2018). The Effect of the Diverse Job Orientation on the Employability of Employees Considering the Mediating Role of the Career Path Capital (Case Study: Shahid Rajaee Customs' Clearance Officers in Hormozgan). Journal of Public Administration, 9 (4), 687-708. (in Persian)
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Benko, C., & Anderson, M. (2010). The corporate lattice: Achieving high performance in the changing world of work: Harvard Business Press.
Buzzetta, M., Hayden, S. C. W., & Ledwith, K. (2017). Creating hope: Assisting Veterans with Job Search Strategies using Cognitive Information Processing Theory. Journal of Employment Counseling, 54(2), 63-74.
Byars-Winston, A., Estrada, Y., Howard, C., Davis, D., & Zalapa, J. (2010). Influence of social cognitive and ethnic variables on academic goals of underrepresented students in science and engineering: a multiple-groups analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(2), 205.
Dahling, J. J., Melloy, R., & Thompson, M. N. (2013). Financial strain and regional unemployment as barriers to job search self-efficacy: a test of social cognitive career theory. J Couns Psychol, 60(2), 210-218.
Dipeolu, A., Davies, L., Smyth, A., Deutch, S., Saunders, D., & Leierer, S. J. (2015). Cognitive Information Processing Approach to Career Counseling for Individuals with ADHD: A Match Made in Conceptual and Clinical Heaven! Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 31(4(, 12-24.
Duffy, R. D., Bott, E. M., Allan, B. A., & Autin, K. L. (2014). Exploring the Role of Work Volition Within Social Cognitive Career Theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 22(3), 465-478.
Egan, T. M., Upton, M. G., & Lynham, S. A. (2006). Career development: Load-bearing wall or window dressing? Exploring definitions, theories, and prospects for HRD-related theory building. Human Resource Development Review, 5(4), 442-477.
Fossati, P. (2018). Is major depression a cognitive disorder? Revue Neurologique, 174(4), 212-215.
Ghorbanpour, A., Shafi Abadi, A., Farahbakhsh, K., Delawar, A. (2016). determination of a career decision-making process based on the integration of social learning theory with cognitive information processing theory and comparison of its effectiveness with multi dimension model. Work and Society, 192, 51-64. (in Persian)
Hasangholipour, H., Amiry, M., Pourezzat, A. (2017). Developing a Model for the Evaluation of Effective Retention Policy for Faculty Members in Higher Education. Journal of Public Administration, 9(3), 489-516. (in Persian)
Lent, R. W., & Brown, S. D. (2013). Social cognitive model of career self-management: Toward a unifying view of adaptive career behavior across the life span. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(4), 557-568.
Liguori, E. W., Bendickson, J. S., & McDowell, W. C. (2018). Revisiting entrepreneurial intentions: a social cognitive career theory approach. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 14(1), 67-78.
Mirsepassi, N., Toloie Eshlaghy, A., Memarzadeh, T. Gh., Peidaie, M.M. (2011). Designing a of Human Resource Excellence Model in Iranian Public Sectors using the Fuzzy Delphi Technique. Journal Management System (Management Research), 21 (87), 1-23.
(in Persian)
Mohammad Tehrani, H., Shafiabadi, A., Falsafinejad, M.R., Hosseinian, S. (2013). Efficiency of Cognitive Information Processing Approach (CIP) in Reducing Dysfunctional Career Thoughts. Journal of Career and Organization Consulting, 5(15), 9-25. (in Persian)
Mousavi, P., Yousefizenouz, R., Hasanpoor, A. (2015). Identifying Organizational Information Security Risks Using Fuzzy Delphi. Journal of Information Technology Management, 7 (1), 163-184. (in Persian)
Nemati Anaraki, D. (2011). Presenting Convenient Pattern of TV News Management from the Specialists' Point of View (Case Study: The Islamic Republic of Iranian TV). Journal of Public Administration, 3 (6), 165-186.(in Persian)
Osborne, L. K. (2014). Using a Cognitive Information Processing Approach to Group Career Counseling with Visually Impaired Veterans. Professional Counselor, 4(2), 150-158.‏
Paivandy, S. L. (2008). The validity of cognitive constructs in cognitive information processing and social cognitive career theories. (Doctor of Philosophy), Florida State University.
Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2014). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice (Vol. 2). Springer.‏
Perry, A. (2012). The Impact of a Cognitive Information Processing Intervention on Students in First-year Non-career Development College Courses: A Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate School in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Education. (Doctoral dissertation, Benedictine University).‏
Peterson, G., Sampson Jr, J., Reardon, R., & Lenz, J. (1991). Career development and services: A cognitive approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks: Cole Publishing Company.
Rahimnia, F., Nosrati, S., Eslami, G. (2017). Investigating effects of job security and autonomy on intention to quit through the mediating role of job embeddedness in public organizations. Journal of Public Administration, 9(2), 333-357.(in Persian)
Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Sampson, J. P., & Peterson, G. W. (2011). Big Questions Facing Vocational Psychology: A Cognitive Information Processing Perspective. Journal of Career Assessment, 19(3), 240-250.
Rezaei-Zadeh, M., & Darwish, T. K. (2016). Antecedents of absorptive capacity: a new model for developing learning processes. The Learning Organization, 23(1), 77-91.
Sampson, J. P., Peterson, G. W., Lenz, J. G., & Reardon, R. C. (1992). A cognitive approach to career services: Translating concepts into practice. The Career Development Quarterly, 41(1), 67-74.
Shahrokhi, M., Abedi, M.R., Georgian, U. (2015). Investigating the Effect of work consultant based on social cognitive career theory (CIP) on the Reduction of Educational procrastination of University Students, the First Scientific Congress on Research and Development of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Sociology and Social Cultural Sciences of Iran, Tehran. (in Persian)
Sung, C., & Connor, A. (2017). Social-cognitive predictors of vocational outcomes in transition youth with epilepsy: Application of social cognitive career theory. Rehabilitation psychology, 62(3), 276-289.
Thompson, M. N., Dahling, J. J., Chin, M. Y., & Melloy, R. C. (2017). Integrating job loss, unemployment, and reemployment with Social Cognitive Career Theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 25(1), 40-57.‏