Assessing career optimism and adaptability: toward the construct validation of the Career Futures Inventory

Rottinghaus, Patrick
Major Professor
Fred H. Borgen
Susan X. Day
Committee Member
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The purpose of this study was to provide initial results on the development and validation of the Career Futures Inventory (CFI), a 25-item measure that assesses positive career planning attitudes. This theory-driven scale development project attempts to assess domain-specific career optimism and perceived adaptability including planfulness, decisional skill, and self-awareness. Savickas' (1997) extension of Super and Knasel's (1981) career adaptability construct and Scheier and Carver's (1985) dispositional optimism construct provided theoretical context for scale development. The CFI emphasizes the empirical measurement of dispositional generalized expectancies within the career domain and adaptability related to an individual's unique career goals and present self-concept. In particular, the CFI relates to the goal of achieving an individualized optimal career status, situated between specific trait-like principles or self-efficacy estimates and the global idealized self. Results from an item analysis of scale homogeneity and exploratory factor analysis in a sample of 690 undergraduates from a large midwestern university revealed three subscales: (1) Career Adaptability; (2) Career Optimism; and (3) Perceived Knowledge. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the three-factor model provided an excellent fit to the data. Additional analyses established high internal consistency, temporal stability, and construct validity through examination of correlates with dispositional optimism, Big Five personality characteristics, generalized problem-solving, vocationally-relevant self-efficacy, interests, and numerous career-relevant attitudes and outcomes. Results demonstrated that optimistic and adaptable people appear to strive higher academically, report greater comfort with their educational and career-related plans, show higher levels of career identity, and engage in career exploration activities more thoroughly. These results support the concurrent validity of the CFI scales. Moreover, a series of hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated the incremental validity of career optimism after controlling for dispositional optimism, self-efficacy, positive and negative affect, and the Big Five as they related to career exploration attitudes. Implications for future research and counseling practice are discussed. The assessment of optimism and adaptability shows promise for strengthening the identification, modification, and achievement of appropriate career related goals.