Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale

Career Decision Self-Efficacy ScaleThe Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale (CDSE) was developed by Karen Taylor and Nancy Betz in order to apply Albert Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy expectations to the domain of career decision making. Career decision self-efficacy was originally defined by Taylor and Betz as the individual’s belief that he or she can successfully complete tasks necessary in making career decisions. In order to define these tasks, the theory of career maturity of John O. Crites was used. Crites’s theory defined career maturity as the individual’s degree of possession of five career choice competencies and five career choice attitudes. The five career choice competencies and sample items are (1) accurate self-appraisal (“Accurately assess your abilities”), (2) occupational information (“Find out the employment trends for an occupation over the next 10 years” ), (3) goal selection (“Select one occupation from a list of occupations you are considering”), (4) planning (“Make a plan of your goals for the next 5 years”), and (5) problem solving (“Change occupations if you are not satisfied with the one you entered”). In the original CDSE, each scale consisted of 10 tasks in which the individual indicated his or her degree of confidence in his or her ability to complete the task; the response continuum ranged from 0 (not at all confident) to 9 (very confident).

In 1996 a 25-item short form was developed from the best items of the original 50-item form. The short form has been found to have levels of reliability and validity comparable to or superior to those of the long form. In addition, research by Betz, Marie Hammond, and Karen Multon indicated that a five-level response continuum provided measurement as reliable and valid as that provided with the 10-level response continuum, so it is recommended that most users use the short form with the five-level response continuum.

Based on extensive research evidence, it can be said with considerable certainty that career decision making self-efficacy is related to other indices of adaptive career decision making. For example, there is ample evidence that career decision self-efficacy is inversely related to career indecision and fear of career commitment and that it is positively related to high versus low vocational identity, to more adaptive career beliefs, and to career exploratory behavior. It has been found that career decision making self-efficacy was related to academic persistence versus dropout in underprepared college students and that it surpassed all other variables as a predictor of academic and social integration of college students.

CDSE Use in Evaluating Career Development Interventions

Research suggests that career decision self-efficacy is strongly related to both perceived and actual difficulties in making and implementing career decision. There has now been considerable research using self-efficacy theory as the basis for the design and/or evaluation of interventions to increase career decision self-efficacy. Many studies have used the CDSE as the dependent variable in evaluating career interventions such as the use of DISCOVER, a computer-assisted career guidance program, and other career counseling workshops and career exploration courses in college student populations. Results consistently indicate that the CDSE scores of students who receive a viable intervention tend to increase, whereas CDSE scores of students who do not receive an appropriate intervention remain relatively stable over time.


  1. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman.
  2. Betz, N. E. (1992). Counseling uses of career self-efficacy theory. Career Development Quarterly, 41, 22-26.
  3. Betz, N. E., Hammond, M., & Multon, K. (2005). Reliability and validity of five level response continua for the Career Decision Self-Efficacy scale. Journal of Career Assessment, 13, 131-149.
  4. Betz, N. E., Klein, K., & Taylor, K. (1996). Evaluation of a short form of the Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale. Journal of Career Assessment, 4, 47-57.
  5. Betz, N., & Taylor, K. (1994). Manual for the Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale. Columbus: Ohio State University Department of Psychology.
  6. Taylor, K. M., & Betz, N. E. (1983). Applications of self-efficacy theory to the understanding and treatment of career indecision. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 22, 63-81.