core self-evaluation

What are Core Self-Evaluations?

There are many personality traits that influence people’s biographical experiences and career development via their association with emotional appraisals, motivational priorities, and coping strategies (McCrae & Costa, 2008).

One personality trait that has been recently linked to career development is core self-evaluation. According to Judge and Larsen (2001),

core self-evaluations are fundamental trait premises that individuals hold about themselves and their functioning in the world.

These evaluations capture the dispositional antecedents of people’s appraisals of the external world and their subsequent reactions to those appraisals (e.g., responses to feedback).

In research, core self-evaluation has typically been operationalized as the latent personality trait that accounts for the correspondence among four lower-order psychological traits.

We’ll spend the remainder of this entry delving deeper into each, but for now, here they are in order.

Despite usually being studied in isolation, these four lower-order traits are conceptually similar and empirically related (Judge, Bono, & Locke, 2000).

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1.   Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the overall value that one places on oneself as a person.

2.   Generalized Self-Efficacy

Generalized self-efficacy is a person’s evaluation of how well one can perform across a variety of situations.

3.   Locus of Control

Locus of control is the perceived degree of control of events in one’s life.

4.   Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the tendency to have a negative cognitive/explanatory style and to focus on negative aspects of the self.

Research on the individual core traits from the careers literature has suggested that these lower-order traits influence the quality of early career experiences.

Neuroticism has been linked to career self-efficacy and interests, while external locus of control, and low self-esteem are associated with career indecision among young adults.

The general premise is that when individuals are high on neuroticism, external locus of control, and low on self-esteem and generalized self-efficacy (i.e., having lower levels of core self-evaluation), they are less likely to take actions regarding their careers and will be less happy with their career decisions.

This is because individuals with lower levels core self-evaluations are less likely to actively pursue goals that will improve their self-regard.

Specifically, according to self-verification theoryOpens in new window, individuals with positive self-regard seek situations that offer feedback and information that supports their view, while individuals with negative self-concepts seek situations that justify and reinforce negative self-views.

As such, the information gathered by individuals to make self-appraisals is at least partly determined by their existing self-concepts.

Judge et al. (1998) extended self-verification theory into people’s perception of the nature of their work. According to Judge and colleagues, individuals with positive core self-evaluations seek and categorize information in their work environments that is likely to lead to positive conclusions about their work experience, while individuals with negative self-evaluations attend to a host of negative aspects of their work environment (i.e., stressful job conditions and annoying co-workers).

These assessments may also account for the positive relationship between core self-evaluations and mid-career satisfaction such that individuals with positive self-evaluations are more satisfied with their jobs, because these individuals see more variety, challenge, and intrinsic worth in their work (Judge & Hurst, 2008).

Following the logic of self-verification theory (Swann et al., 1992), it is conceivable that individuals with high core self-evaluations in their early mid careers are more likely to change their jobs or career paths when their work or career environment contradicts with their positive self-appraisal and threatens their self-images.

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