Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


Counseling Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 123 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

LaRae M Jome

Committee Members

Richard F Haase, David L Blustein


Autonomy, Career, Goals, Self-Determination Theory, Structural Equation Modeling, Well-Being, College students, Well-being, Career development, Vocational guidance

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2000) argues that if the goals pursued in a life domain are not congruent with the needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, well-being in that domain will be negatively impacted or at best, stagnant. Goals are an important part of career interventions (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), yet no research to date has assessed the importance of need congruent goals in the career domain. The present study assessed the effect of career goal autonomy (CGA) and career goal intrinsic content (CGIC) on well-being in the career domain (vocational well-being; VWB) and two components of global well-being: Positive well-being (PWB) and negative well-being (NWB). Participants were full time college juniors and seniors between the ages of 18 and 25. In the proposed model, the effects of CGA and CGIC on PWB and NWB were hypothesized to be mediated through VWB. This model was assessed using structural equation modeling (SEM), and was found to have an adequate fit to the data. Hypotheses concerning CGA were supported, while hypotheses concerning CGIC were rejected. The effect of CGA on PWB (r = .57) was partially mediated by VWB, and the effect of CGA on NWB (r = -.33) was fully mediated by VWB. CGIC did not have bivariate relationships with VWB, PWB, or NWB. In addition, although CGIC was predicted to be negatively related to NWB, CGIC had a positive direct effect on NWB (r = .13). Implications for theory, research, and practice are discussed.