Great expectations: Adolescents' intentional self-regulation predicts career aspiration and expectation consistency

Christopher M. Napolitano, Kevin A. Hoff, Colin Wee Jian Ming, Naidan Tu, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing evidence base suggests the importance of goal-related intentional self-regulatory (ISR) skills for adolescents' sustained positive development, but there is little research that links teens' ISR skills to their actual goals. As career development is among the most critical goal domains during adolescence, we address this limitation by exploring the relations between youth ISR skills and their career aspirations and expectations. Using three waves of data from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, we found general support for our hypotheses among a sample of approximately 16–18-year-old youth. Adolescents with higher levels of ISR skills were generally more likely to report career aspirations and expectations that were either identical, or if they differed, were similar in their required level of training, and/or their field or primary vocational interest classification. Because people with strong ISR skills focus their energies towards one or a small number of goals to provide structure and direction for their actions, these results suggest that youth with strong ISR skills may similarly practice a focused, goal-oriented type of career development. In addition to providing new lenses through which to examine career development theories (e.g., Holland, 1997; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2002), these results provide guidelines for future research and applied programs to promote adolescent career development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103423
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Career aspirations
  • Career expectations
  • Intentional self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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