Career Regret among University Students from Turkey: A Test of the Social Cognitive Career Theory


  • Duygu Biricik Saint Mary's University


career regret, social cognitive career theory, university students


Drawing on the Social Cognitive Career Theory satisfaction model (Lent & Brown, 2006; 2008), the current study aimed to test the predictors of career regret among university students. Survey data was collected from 180 university students from Turkey. The results of the multiple serial mediators model (Model 6) test using PROCESS macro (Hayes, 2018) showed that higher levels of negative affect was associated with career regret because of low career self-efficacy and outcome expectations from one’s career. This study has extended the Social Cognitive Career Theory satisfaction model (Lent & Brown, 2006; 2008) by testing career regret as an outcome. Using the findings of this study, career counsellors can identify clients who are at risk of developing career regret and work on enhancing their self-efficacy as well as outcome expectations to minimize future career regret.


Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Aycan, Z., & Fikret-Pasa, S. (2003). Career choices, job selection criteria, and leadership preferences in a transitional nation: The case of Turkey. Journal of Career Development, 30(2), 129-144. doi:10.1023/A:1026112127918

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191

Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122-147. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.37.2.122

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44(9), 1175-1184. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.44.9.1175

Bandura, A. (2011). Social cognitive theory. In P.A.M. van Lange, A.W. Kruglanski, & E.T. Higgins (Eds.). Handbook of social psychological theories. (pp. 349-373). London: Sage.

Beike, D. R., Markman, K. D., & Karadogan, F. (2009). What we regret most are lost opportunities: A theory of regret intensity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(3), 385-397. doi: 10.1177/0146167208328329

Betz, N. E., & Hackett, G. (1981). The relationship of career-related self-efficacy expectations to perceived career options in college women and men. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28(5), 399-410. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.28.5.399

Betz, N. E., & Hackett, G. (2006). Career self-efficacy theory: Back to the future. Journal of Career Assessment, 14(1), 3-11. doi: 10.1177/1069072705281347

Betz, N. E. & Taylor, K. M. (2001). Manual for the career decision self-efficacy scale and CDMSE—Short form. Columbus: The Ohio State University.

Bieschke, K. J. (2000). Factor structure of the research outcome expectations scale. Journal of Career Assessment, 8(3), 303-313. doi:10.1177/106907270000800307

Bradburn N. M. (1969) The Structure of Psychological Well-being. Aldine: Chicago.

Bui, M., Krishen, A. S., & Bates, K. (2011). Modeling regret effects on consumer post-purchase decisions. European Journal of Marketing, 45(7/8), 1068-1090. doi: 10.1108/03090561111137615

Buyukgoze-Kavas, A., Duffy, R. D., Guneri, O. Y., & Autin, K. L. (2014). Job satisfaction among Turkish teachers: exploring differences by school level. Journal of Career Assessment, 22(2), 261-273. doi:10.1177/1069072713493980

Campbell, J. P., & Wilmot, M. P. (2018). The functioning of theory in IWOP. In D. S. Ones, N. Anderson, C. Viswesvaran, & H. Kepir (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of industrial, work, & organizational psychology: Volume 1, Personnel psychology and employee performance (2nd ed., pp. 3–38). London: Sage.

Chen, J., Teng, L., Liu, S., & Zhu, H. (2015). Anticipating regret and consumers' preferences for counterfeit luxury products. Journal of Business Research, 68(3), 507-515. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2014.09.012

Conklin, A. M., Dahling, J. J., & Garcia, P. A. (2013). Linking affective commitment, career self-efficacy, and outcome expectations: A test of social cognitive career theory. Journal of Career Development, 40(1), 68-83. doi:10.1177/0894845311423534

Connolly, T., & Zeelenberg, M. (2002). Regret in decision making. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(6), 212-216. doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.00203

Dawis, R. V., & Lofquist, L. H. (1984). A psychological theory of work adjustment: An individual differences model and its application. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

Dawis, R. V. (2005). The Minnesota theory of work adjustment. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (pp. 3-23). New York: John Wiley.

Duffy, R. D., & Lent, R. W. (2009). Test of a social cognitive model of work satisfaction in teachers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75(2), 212-223. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2009.06.001

Eun, H., Sohn, Y. W., & Lee, S. (2013). The effect of self‐regulated decision making on career path and major‐related career choice satisfaction. Journal of Employment Counseling, 50(3), 98-109. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2013.00029.x

Flores, L. Y., Navarro, R. L., Lee, H. S., Addae, D. A., Gonzalez, R., Luna, L. L., ... & Mitchell, M. (2014). Academic satisfaction among Latino/a and White men and women engineering students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 61(1), 81-92. doi:10.1037/a0034577

Galinsky, A. D., Liljenquist, K. A., Kray, L. J., & Roese, N. R. (2005). Finding meaning from mutability: Making sense and deriving meaning from counterfactual thinking. In D. R. Mandel, D. J. Hilton, & P. Catellani (Eds.), The psychology of counterfactual thinking (pp. 110 – 125). London, England: Routledge.

George, D., & Mallery, M. (2010). SPSS for Windows step by step: a simple guide and reference. Boston: Pearson.

Ghidini, F., Sekulovic, S., & Castagnetti, M. (2016). Parental decisional regret after primary distal hypospadias repair: family and surgery variables, and repair outcomes. The Journal of Urology, 195(3), 720-724. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2015.10.118

Gibbons, M.M., & Borders, D. (2010a). A measure of college-going self-efficacy for middle school students. Professional School Counseling, 13, 234-243. doi: 10.1177/2156759X1001300404

Gilovich, T., & Medvec, V. H. (1995). The experience of regret: what, when, and why. Psychological Review, 102(2), 379-395. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.102.2.379

Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling [White paper]. Retrieved from public/process2012.pdf

Hayes, A. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: The Guilford Press.

Hinkin, T. R. (1998). A brief tutorial on the development of measures for use in survey questionnaires. Organizational Research Methods, 1(1), 104-121. doi: 10.1177/109442819800100106

Hirschi, A. (2014). Hope as a resource for self-directed career management: Investigating mediating effects on proactive career behaviors and life and job satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(6), 1495-1512. doi: 10.1007/s10902-013-9488-x

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: national differences in thinking and organizing. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1), 8-26. doi:10.9707/2307-0919.1014

Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: a theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Huang, C. (2013). Gender differences in academic self-efficacy: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 28(1), 1-35. doi: 10.1007/s10212-011-0097-y

Karakitapoglu-Aygun, Z. K., Arslan, M., & Guney, S. (2008). Work values of Turkish and American university students. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(2), 205-223. doi: 10.1007/s10551-007-9413-5

Korkut-Owen, F., Kepir, D. D., Ozdemir, S., Ulas, O., & Yilmaz, O. (2012). Universite ogrencilerinin bolum secme nedenleri [The reasons behind university students’ major choices]. Mersin Universitesi Egitim Bilimleri Dergisi. 8(3), 135-151.

Koseleci, N. (2015). Progress towards good-quality education for all in Turkey: a qualified success?. Comparative Education, 51(4), 555-574. doi: 10.1080/03050068.2015.1087211

Landman, J. (1993). Regret: the persistence of the possible. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lent, R. W., & Brown, S. D. (2006). Integrating person and situation perspectives on work satisfaction: A social-cognitive view. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69(2), 236-247. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2006.02.006

Lent, R. W., & Brown, S. D. (2008). Social cognitive career theory and subjective well-being in the context of work. Journal of Career Assessment, 16(1), 6-21. doi: 10.1177/1069072707305769

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45(1), 79-122. doi: 10.1006/jvbe.1994.1027

Lent, R. W., Miller, M. J., Smith, P. E., Watford, B. A., Lim, R. H., Hui, K., ... & Williams, K. (2013). Social cognitive predictors of adjustment to engineering majors across gender and race/ethnicity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(1), 22-30. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2013.02.006

Lent, R. W., Miller, M. J., Smith, P. E., Watford, B. A., Lim, R. H., & Hui, K. (2016). Social cognitive predictors of academic persistence and performance in engineering: Applicability across gender and race/ethnicity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 94, 79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2016.02.012

Lent, R. W., Nota, L., Soresi, S., Ginevra, M. C., Duffy, R. D., & Brown, S. D. (2011). Predicting the job and life satisfaction of Italian teachers: test of a social cognitive model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79(1), 91-97. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2010.12.006

Li, X., Hou, Z. J., & Jia, Y. (2015). The influence of social comparison on career decision-making: Vocational identity as a moderator and regret as a mediator. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 86, 10-19. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2014.10.003

Ormel, J. (1983). Neuroticism and well-being inventories: measuring traits or states?. Psychological Medicine, 13(1), 165-176. doi: 10.1017/S0033291700050170

Ogrenci Secme ve Yerlestirme Merkezi (OSYM) [Student Selection and Placement Center]. (2016). ÖSYS: öğrenci seçme ve yerleştirme sistemi [Student selection and placement system]. Retrieved from:,13050/2017-lys-kilavuz-ve-basvuru-bilgileri.html

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879-903. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.879

Rigotti, T., Schyns, B., & Mohr, G. (2008). A short version of the occupational self-efficacy scale: Structural and construct validity across five countries. Journal of Career Assessment, 16(2), 238-255. doi: 10.1177/1069072707305763

Roese, N. J., & Summerville, A. (2005). What we regret most and why. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(9), 1273-1285. doi:10.1177/0146167205274693

Ryan, T. P. (2008). Modern regression methods. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Sadatmahalleh, S. J., Ziaei, S., Kazemnejad, A., & Mohamadi, E. (2018). Evaluation of Influencing Factors on Tubal Sterilization Regret: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, 12(3): 200–206. doi:10.22074/ijfs.2018.5272

Santra, S., & Giri, V. N. (2017). Impact of Career Regret on Career Outcomes of Information Technology (IT) Professionals in India. American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences Proceedings, 24(1), 481-497.

Schieman, S., Pearlin, L. I., & Nguyen, K. B. (2005). Status inequality and occupational regrets in late life. Research on Aging, 27(6), 692-724. doi:10.1177/0164027505279720

Schooreel, T., Shockley, K. M., & Verbruggen, M. (2017). What if people’s private life constrained their career decisions? Examining the relationship between home-to-career interference and career satisfaction. Career Development International, 22(2), 124-141. doi:10.1108/CDI-03-2016-0037

Sheu, H. & Wang, X. T. (2019). Social cognitive career theory: Overview and practical applications. In N. Arthur, R. Neault, & M. McMahon (Eds.). Career theories and models at work (pp. 279-390). Toronto: CERIC.

Sommer, W. H., Lidström, J., Sun, H., Passer, D., Eskay, R., Parker, S.C.J., . . . Heilig, M. (2010). Human NPY promoter variation rs16147:T>C as a moderator of prefrontal NPY gene expression and negative affect. Human Mutation, 31(8), E1594-E1608. doi:10.1002/humu.21299

Spurk, D., & Abele, A. E. (2014). Synchronous and time-lagged effects between occupational self-efficacy and objective and subjective career success: Findings from a four-wave and 9-year longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 84(2), 119-132. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2013.12.002

Sullivan, S. E., Forret, M. L., & Mainiero, L. A. (2007). No regrets? An investigation of the relationship between being laid off and experiencing career regrets. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(8), 787-804. doi:10.1108/02683940710837723

van Dijk, W. W., & Zeelenberg, M. (2002). Investigating the appraisal patterns of regret and disappointment. Motivation and Emotion, 26(4), 321-331. doi: 10.1023/A:1022823221146

Vedhara, K., Gill, S., Eldesouky, L., Campbell, B. K., Arevalo, J. M., Ma, J., & Cole, S. W. (2015). Personality and gene expression: Do individual differences exist in the leukocyte transcriptome?. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 52, 72-82. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.10.028

Wang, X. (2013). Why students choose STEM majors: Motivation, high school learning, and postsecondary context of support. American Educational Research Journal, 50(5), 1081-1121. doi:10.3102/0002831213488622

Wrzesniewski, A., Tosti-Kharas, J., & Landman, J. (2006). If I could turn back time: Occupational regret and its consequences for work and life. Unpublished manuscript, Yale University.

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. doi: 10.1016/0001-8791(83)90006-4

Tezic, E., Tekeli, I., Yarımagan, U., Ertepinar, A., Sevuk, S., Senatalar, B., ... Durman, M.

(2007). Türkiye’nin yükseköğretim stratejisi [Turkey’s higher education strategy]. Retrieved from:

Troesch, L. M., & Bauer, C. E. (2017). Second career teachers: Job satisfaction, job stress, and the role of self-efficacy. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 389-398. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2017.07.006

Tsiros, M., & Mittal, V. (2000). Regret: A model of its antecedents and consequences in consumer decision making. Journal of Consumer Research, 26(4), 401-417. doi: 10.1086/209571

Waddell, J., Spalding, K., Canizares, G., Navarro, J., Connell, M., Jancar, S., ... & Victor, C. (2015). Integrating a career planning and development program into the baccalaureate nursing curriculum: Part I. Impact on students’ career resilience. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 12(1), 163-173. Doi: 10.1515/ijnes-2014-0035

Waddell, J., Spalding, K., Navarro, J., Connell, M., Jancar, S. & Canizares, G. (2015). Integrating a Career Planning and Development Program into the Baccalaureate Nursing Curriculum. Part II. Outcomes for New Graduate Nurses 12 Months Post-Graduation. Impact on students’ career resilience. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 12(1), 175-182. doi:10.1515/ijnes-2015-0028

Waddell, J., Spalding, K., Navarro, J., & Gaitana, G. (2015). Integrating a career planning and development program into the baccalaureate nursing curriculum: part III. Impact on faculty’s career satisfaction and confidence in providing student career coaching. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 12(1), 183-190. doi: 10.1515/ijnes-2015-0070

Zeelenberg, M., & Pieters, R. (2007). A theory of regret regulation 1.0. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17(1), 3-18. doi:10.1207/s15327663jcp1701_3



How to Cite

Biricik, D. (2019). Career Regret among University Students from Turkey: A Test of the Social Cognitive Career Theory. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 18(2), 4-16. Retrieved from