Career optimism: A systematic review and agenda for future research

Career optimism: A systematic review and agenda for future research

Journal of Vocational Behavior xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Journal of Vocational Behavior journal homepage: www.els...

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Journal of Vocational Behavior xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Vocational Behavior journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jvb

Career optimism: A systematic review and agenda for future research ⁎

Nathan Evaa, , Alexander Newmanb, Zhou Jiangb, Mandy Brouwerc a b c

Monash Business School, 27 Sir John Monash Drive, Caulfield, Victoria, Australia Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia Utrecht University, the Netherlands

A R T IC LE I N F O

ABS TRA CT

Keywords: Career optimism Literature review Optimism Career Systematic literature review

This article systematically reviews empirical work on the antecedents and outcomes of career optimism. Based on a review of the 31 articles on career optimism spanning the last two decades (1998–2017), a framework which integrates findings from empirical work is developed, and a future research agenda presented. We highlight opportunities for empirical and theoretical advancement of the field, calling on researchers to draw on theories such as the conservation of resources, broaden and build and psychology of working theories to understand how career optimism develops and influences individuals' vocational attitudes and behaviors. Further, we call on researchers to improve how they measure career optimism, improve the research designs they adopt, adopt multi-level approaches to understand how career optimism develops, undertake more work on the behavioral outcomes of career optimism, and examine the negative effects of career optimism.

1. Introduction Career optimism, which refers to a tendency for individuals to “expect the best possible outcome or to emphasize the most positive aspects of one's future career development” (Rottinghaus, Day, & Borgen, 2005, p. 11), has recently attracted growing attention from vocational behavior researchers. Individuals who are optimistic about their career potential are interested in their future careers, engage in learning that is directed toward that imagined future, and feel that they are on the path to career success (Gunkel, Schlaegel, Langella, & Peluchette, 2010; Haratsis, Hood, & Creed, 2015). As a result, they are likely to view barriers to career progression as being temporary, and persevere in the face of career setbacks (Duffy, 2010). Career optimism is an integral construct within the vocational behavior literature, and has been used to explain why individuals in the workforce push themselves to seek out new career opportunities, and why students who are about to enter the workforce are positive about their career prospects. For example, authors have argued that career optimism helps individuals understand where they are going in their career (e.g., Duffy, 2010), and explains why individuals are satisfied in their job, career and in life (e.g., Santilli, Marcionetti, Rochat, Rossier, & Nota, 2017). Research on career optimism has started to grow exponentially, with over half of the articles on career optimism having been published in the last four years. With this growth in empirical work has come ambiguity in how career optimism has been defined and measured, with a number of definitions and measures appearing in the literature. There is presently no agreement amongst



Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: [email protected] (N. Eva), [email protected].au (A. Newman), [email protected] (Z. Jiang), [email protected] (M. Brouwer). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.02.011 Received 30 May 2018; Received in revised form 23 January 2019; Accepted 23 February 2019 0001-8791/ © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article as: Nathan Eva, et al., Journal of Vocational Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.02.011

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researchers as to how career optimism should be conceptualized and measured, and the theoretical perspectives that explain how it develops and influences vocational and individual outcomes. If career optimism is going to continue to grow as a meaningful construct in the vocational behavior literature, we must take stock of the existing knowledge on career optimism and the nomological network of constructs to which it is related. Therefore, we offer a systematic review of the empirical evidence on the antecedents and outcomes of career optimism, the theoretical perspectives that have been used to explain how it develops and influences career and work outcomes, as well as how it has been conceptualized and measured. In doing so our systematic review makes a number of contributions to the literature. First, despite the relevance of career optimism to the vocational behavior of individuals, no systematic review of the literature on career optimism exists. Therefore, this article makes an important contribution by conducting the first systematic review of the literature on career optimism. Such a review will allow us to clarify the nomological network of constructs to which career optimism is related, examine how career optimism has been conceptualized and measured in previous research, and elucidate the theoretical perspectives that have been used to explain the process by which career optimism develops and influence individuals' attitudes and behaviors. Second, this article makes an important contribution by developing a framework that synthesizes the findings from previous work. The framework will not only highlight key findings from previous work on the antecedents and outcomes of career optimism, but also act as a source of information for researchers to design future research studies, as well as inform educators and policy makers as to how they might foster individuals' career optimism. Third, and most importantly, this article makes a critical contribution by identifying gaps in research on career optimism and inconsistencies in the literature, and subsequently develop an agenda for future research that highlights opportunities for empirical and theoretical advancement of the literature. In line with best practice (Short, 2009), we searched 10 databases (ABIInform, EBSCO Host, Emerald, Expanded Academic, Google Scholar, Informit, Science Direct, Proquest, PsychInfo, and Web of Science) to identify peer-reviewed articles with career optimism in their title, keywords or abstract that has been published by the end of 2017. Although we put no time restrictions on our search, the earliest article to be included in our review was published in 1998. However, most work on career optimism has been published after 2005, when Rottinghaus and colleagues published their seminal work. To identify further articles on career optimism that did not include the term ‘career optimism’ in their title, abstract, or keywords, we examined the reference lists of all articles to identify any additional studies that were not included in our database search, and also used Google Scholar and Web of Science to search for any additional literature that referenced the career optimism articles identified. For an article to be included in our systematic literature review, the article had to have career optimism as a key variable or subject area, rather than general optimism. Similar to Gardner, Cogliser, Davis, and Dickens (2011), we only included articles that had been subject to the peer-review process to ensure they were based on sound theoretical basis and robust methodology. Thus, book chapters, unpublished papers, conference papers and dissertations were excluded as there was no way of knowing how thoroughly they had been peer-reviewed. Two authors independently screened the downloaded articles to decide whether they met these inclusion criteria, and consulted with one another as to whether to exclude certain articles. This resulted in a total of 31 studies for inclusion in the review, all of which were quantitative in nature, and published across 15 journals. No qualitative studies or theoretical papers were identified in our literature search. Fig. 1 depicts the articles published by year and the career optimism measure the article utilized. As can be seen, 2010 is the year after which the majority of career optimism studies were published. In this year, we saw the first set of studies using the career optimism scale from Rottinghaus et al.'s (2005) Careers Futures Inventory (i.e. Duffy, 2010; Duffy & Raque-Bogdan, 2010; Gunkel et al., 2010; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010).

Fig. 1. Career optimism publications by year and measure used. 2

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Table 1 Journals publishing career optimism research. Journal Journal of Career Assessment Journal of Vocational Behavior The Career Development Quarterly International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Journal of Career Development Personality and Individual Differences Human Relations Journal of Business and Psychology Teaching and Teacher Education Motivation and Emotion Personnel Review Work German Journal of Human Resource Management Management Revue

Number of articles

Impact factor

7 4 4 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

1.970 3.885 1.060 0.658 1.644 2.400 4.027 3.229 2.995 2.458 1.853 0.723 0.655 NA

Unsurprisingly, the majority of career optimism work has been published in career and vocational behavior journals (see Table 1). Specifically, the Journal of Career Assessment, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Career Development, and The Career Development Quarterly have all published multiple articles on career optimism. We structure our review into five main sections. Specifically, we first examine how career optimism has been defined within the vocational behavior literature. Following this, we scrutinize the measurement and research designs that have been used in career optimism studies. We then discuss the theoretical perspectives that have governed the career optimism literature, before reviewing the antecedents and outcomes of career optimism, and studies in which career optimism has been conceptualized as a moderator. Finally, we present a detailed agenda for future research highlighting opportunities for both empirical and theoretical advancement of the field. 2. Defining career optimism Scholars have generally viewed optimism as a trait, referring to it as where an individual has a positive outlook on life. Optimists expect good things to happen to them and bad things to be a rare occurrence (Rottinghaus, Buelow, Matyja, & Schneider, 2012). More specifically, in relation to career optimism, career scholars have argued that individuals with high levels of career optimism view new career opportunities as realistic (Kim, Jung, et al., 2014), interpret career and work events positively (Santilli et al., 2017), have positive expectations about the achievement of their career goals (Haratsis, Creed, & Hood, 2016; Spurk, Kauffeld, Barthauer, & Heinemann, 2015), and believe that any career failure is only temporary (Chatterjee, Afshan, & Chhetri, 2015). In saying this, we are mindful of MacKenzie's (2003, p. 325) maxim not to “define the construct as the result of, and/or the cause of, some other construct”, as this leads to poor construct clarity. We believe that this has been the case with career optimism, with scholars tending to describe career optimism as the behaviors and attitudes shown by an individual with high levels of career optimism, rather than defining what career optimism is. We suggest that the most promising definition of career optimism that adheres to MacKenzie's recommendations comes from Rottinghaus et al. (2005, p. 11). Drawing on Scheier and Carver's (1985) work on dispositional optimism, they argue that optimism influences how an individual regulates their actions when they are trying to achieve a goal such as making a success of their career. This lead Rottinghaus et al. (2005, p. 11) to define career optimism as: “a disposition to expect the best possible outcome or to emphasize the most positive aspects of one's future career development, and comfort in performing career planning tasks”. This definition has been utilized in a number of subsequent studies (e.g. Corr & Mutinelli, 2017; Duffy & Raque-Bogdan, 2010; Garcia, Restubog, Bordia, Bordia, & Roxas, 2015; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010; McLennan, McIlveen, & Perera, 2017; Stoeber, Mutinelli, & Corr, 2016). As it defines career optimism by what it is, rather than what career optimism leads to, we believe researchers should continue to use this definition moving forward. However, we would like to propose a caveat to the above definition. One of the deeply held assumptions in the career optimism literature is that career optimism is a trait-like dispositional characteristic that is stable. This is because the definitions utilized have generally been drawn from Carver and Scheier's (1981) concept of dispositional optimism. In analyzing the literature on career optimism, we conclude there is enough evidence to suggest that career optimism might also be state-like in nature, as well as being trait-like. Such a view is supported by the fact that prior research has shown that it can be shaped by a supportive environment (Friedman, Kane, & Cornfield, 1998; Garcia et al., 2015). This is in-line with previous research on optimism, which has shown that career optimism has both trait-like and state-like elements (Kluemper, Little, & DeGroot, 2009; Luthans & Youssef, 2007). Specifically, trait-like optimism is the stable, general level of optimism felt by an individual, whereas state-like optimism captures the level of optimism that may fluctuate as a result of contextual factors (Kluemper et al., 2009). We can see evidence in favor of adopting such an approach in the vocational behavior literature. For example, both Friedman et al. (1998) and Garcia et al. (2015) contend that career optimism can be influenced by the social environment. Specifically, Garcia et al. (2015) found that supportive relationships, in the form of students being supported by their parents and teachers, influences individuals' self-efficacy, which in-turn influences their 3

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career optimism. This is in line with work by Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman, and Combs (2006) who argue that optimism in general can be developed through increasing individual's self-efficacy through training interventions. Therefore, we propose that while career optimism can be a trait-like disposition, it can also be state-like and developable. Thus, we call on future research to examine to what extent career optimism is developable, and the various mechanisms (training, mentoring, developmental assignments) that can be used to develop career optimism. 2.1. Distinguishing career optimism from related constructs In this section, we seek to distinguish career optimism from a number of related career constructs, building on previous work that has distinguished optimism from similar positive constructs such as hope and self-efficacy in relation to one's career, work volition and future work self (Carifio & Rhodes, 2002; Feldman & Kubota, 2015; Hirschi, Abessolo, & Froidevaux, 2015; Juntunen & Wettersten, 2006). Hope is generally defined through Snyder et al.' (1991, p. 571) characterization that hope is “a cognitive mindset that is based on a reciprocally derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed determination) and (b) pathways (planning of ways to meet goals)”. In their initial conceptualization of hope, Snyder et al. (1991) stated that hope and optimism are similar as they are stable cognitive mindsets that reflect general outcomes, rather than specific outcomes (i.e. that my career will turn out well). However, they differ in relation to the fact that hope is more concerned with the self-initiated actions (agency) one takes to create a successful career and how they get there (pathways), whereas optimism is more a belief that one's career will be successful and fulfilling either through luck, their own actions, or the actions of others (Alarcon, Bowling, & Khazon, 2013). Indeed, recent meta-analytical work conducted by Alarcon et al. (2013) suggests that although the two constructs of hope and optimism are positively related, they are empirically distinct from one another. As such they recommend researchers include both variables in future research models. Similar to hope is Strauss, Griffin and Parker's (2012, p. 581) construct of future work self, which is a “representation of the self in the future that encapsulates individually significant hopes and aspirations in relation to work”. More specifically, future work self is a cognitive representation of a future where the individual envisions himself or herself in a particular occupation (Taber & Blankemeyer, 2015). That is, it denotes who individuals expect to be in their future work and careers (i.e., their ideal future vocational identity). In contrast, rather than merely positively envisaging oneself in a particular career, career optimism captures a general tendency to anticipate a broader range of positive outcomes in future career development in relation to oneself, the environment, the person-environment interaction, and any related activities and processes (Rottinghaus et al., 2005). Building on Bandura's work (1977, p. 3) which defines self-efficacy as “the belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to produce given attainments”, Hackett and colleagues developed the concept of career self-efficacy, defining it as confidence in one's abilities to pursue career related tasks (Hackett & Betz, 1995; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). Career self-efficacy differs from career optimism as career self-efficacy refers to an individual's perceived ability to complete a career related task (i.e. I am able to search for a job) (Zhao, Lim, & Teo, 2012), and is a dynamic set of self-beliefs (Lent et al., 1994). On the other hand, those who are optimistic about their career have comfort in performing career related tasks, and a disposition that good things will happen within their career (Rottinghaus et al., 2005). Work volition refers to an individual's perceptions about his/her ability to make career choices despite structural, environmental, and personal constraints (Duffy, Diemer, Perry, Laurenzi, & Torrey, 2012). The concept of work volition focuses on the current environment the worker is within, being able to choose the career they are in, and the feeling of control over their employment (Duffy et al., 2012). Therefore, compared to career optimism, which focuses on future career opportunities and development, work volition is more of a cognitive recognition of the career reality the worker is currently within, and is therefore likely to be something can be enhanced by optimism (Duffy, Allan, Autin, & Bott, 2013). 3. Measurement and research designs adopted in career optimism research 3.1. Measurement of career optimism Seven measures have been developed in prior work to assess career optimism. In order to evaluate the reliability and validity of each measure, we analyzed each measure using Hinkin's (1998) scale development criteria (see Table 2). Of the seven measures, only the Rottinghaus et al. (2005), Kim (2012)) and Kim, Jung, et al., 2014) measures adhered to Hinkin's criteria. The McIlveen, Burton, and Beccaria (2013) measure, which is a short form version of Rottinghaus et al.'s (2005) measure, had yet to be replicated at the time of review. The other studies which developed their own idiosyncratic scales to measure career optimism did not report the scale development process in full (i.e. whether factor analysis had been undertaken and whether convergent or discriminant validity had been established). As such we do not recommend future use of these measures until this has been rectified. Out of all scales the Rottinghaus et al. (2005, 2012) scales have been the most widely used, with the 2005 11-item career optimism scale adopted by 15 of 31 empirical studies, and the 2012 4-item negative career outlook scale adopted by 3 studies. Rottinghaus et al.'s (2005) career optimism scale was part of their Careers Futures Inventory (CFI) that comprises three subscales, career optimism (11-items), career adaptability (11-items), and perceived knowledge (3-items). This scale has been validated in subsequent work on secondary college students (Corr & Mutinelli, 2017), university students (Duffy, 2010; Duffy & Raque-Bogdan, 2010), teachers (McIlveen & Perera, 2016), and young STEM academics (Spurk et al., 2015). Further, it has been validated across numerous cultural settings including Australia (McLennan et al., 2017), China (Gunkel et al., 2010), England (Corr & Mutinelli, 2017), Germany (Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010), and the Philippines (Garcia et al., 2015). Despite the widespread use of the 11-item 4

5

4. Confirmatory factor analysis 5. Convergent/ discriminant validity 6. Replication

2. Questionnaire administration 3. Initial item reduction

1. Item generation

Publication information

Manuscripts using the measure Countries used in

Exploratory factor analysis Cronbach's alpha Confirmatory factor analysis

Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, China, England, Finland, Germany, Philippines, Spain, Ukraine, USA

USA

Yes/yes

Not reported 15

0.87 Yes

0.69 Not reported

1

Yes

11 5-point Likert 690 students

2 5-point Likert 397 workers Not reported

Yes

Careers Futures Inventory (CFI)

Rottinghaus et al. (2005)

Not reported

Career optimism

Name of measure

Content validity assessment No. items Item scaling Original sample

Friedman et al. (1998)

Authors

Table 2 Career optimism measures against Hinkin's (1998) scale development criteria.

1 Belgium

Australia, USA

Not reported

0.7 Not reported

4 5-point Likert 787 students & 825 students Not reported

Not reported

Optimism

De Hauw and De Vos (2010)

3

Not reported

0.89 Not reported

5 5-point Likert 208 students with disabilities Not reported

Yes

Career optimism scale

Hennessey, Rumrill, Fitzgerald, and Roessler (2008)

India, USA

3

Yes/yes

0.89 & 0.77 Not reported

4 5-point Likert 250 students & 348 students Yes

Yes

Careers Future Inventory Revised (CFI-R)

Rottinghaus et al. (2012)

Australia

1

Yes/yes

0.84 Yes

Yes

Korea

6

Yes/yes

0.89 & 0.90 Yes

5 5-point Likert 1.009 students & 399 students Yes

Yes

Planned Happenstance Career Inventory Careers Futures Inventory (CFI) Short From Rottinghaus et al. (2005) 3 5-point Likert 1566 students

Kim, Jung, et al. (2014)

McIlveen, Burton, and Beccaria (2013)

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scale, a number of studies have used an abbreviated version of the scale consisting of only two or three items (Gunkel et al., 2010; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010; Gunkel, Schlägel, Langella, Peluchette, & Reshetnyak, 2013). Given such work provides limited theoretical or empirical justification for the use of abbreviated scales, it is difficult for us to determine the validity of such scales. In 2012, Rottinghaus and colleagues revised the Career Futures Inventory (CFI-R) to include five sub-dimensions; negative career outlook, career agency, occupational awareness, support, and work-life balance. In the revised scale, the 4-item negative career outlook dimension captures the inverse state of career optimism. However, compared to the original career optimism scale that formed part of the CFI, the four-item scale exhibited lower convergent validity than the original 11-item scale (Rottinghaus et al., 2017). The other most promising measure of career optimism adopted in prior research is that which makes up a sub-dimension of Kim, Jung, et al.'s (2014) Planned Happenstance Career Inventory (PHCI). The inventory, made up of five, 5-item sub-scales that capture career curiosity, persistence, flexibility, risk taking, and optimism, has been used four times in the literature (25-items in total). The PHCI was developed from Kim's (2012) 15-item Career-Related Planned Happenstance (CRPH) scale that has been used in two articles by Kim and colleagues (Ahn et al., 2015; Kim, Jang, et al., 2014). In subsequent work by Kim and colleagues the 25-item rather than the 15-item scale has been used. Although the 25-item scale has been properly validated across multiple samples and the five sub-factors have consistently exhibited good convergent and discriminant validity (Kim, Rhee, Ha, Yang, & Lee, 2016; Rhee, Lee, Kim, Ha, & Lee, 2016), it has yet to be used outside of Korea, where it was developed. As such its generalizability to other cultural contexts is yet to be determined. 3.2. Research design in career optimism research Prior empirical work on career optimism has adopted similar research designs. Out of the 31 empirical studies, all but one adopted a quantitative survey design at the individual-level of analysis (i.e. Spurk et al., 2015). Multi-level approaches have yet to be adopted to examine whether shared perceptions of career optimism exist within a group, or whether aggregated variables at the team or organizational level influence an individual's career optimism. Our review of the literature also highlighted that prior work on career optimism has typically studied university students (23 out of 31 manuscripts) or secondary college students (2 out of 31 manuscripts) (see Fig. 2 for breakdown by country and sample type). Although other studies have examined the career optimism of young professionals/recent graduates or a mix of students and young professionals/recent graduates (Haratsis et al., 2015, 2016; Kim et al., 2016; Spurk et al., 2015), only one prior study has examined the career optimism of individuals over the age of 30 (Friedman et al., 1998). As such we have limited knowledge as to whether the antecedents of career optimism are similar for individuals in their midto-late careers, and individuals in education or at an early career stage. Finally, prior studies on career optimism have typically adopted a cross-sectional design. Out of 31 studies, only eight studies utilized a longitudinal design, of which five studies measured career optimism at multiple points in time (Haratsis et al., 2016; Rottinghaus et al., 2017; Spurk et al., 2015; Tolentino et al., 2014; Yang, Liu, & Gu, 2017). The remaining three studies maintained temporal separation between dependent and independent variables in their study (Burger & Caldwell, 2000; Chatterjee et al., 2015; Garcia et al., 2015). Given that the overwhelming majority of prior work has relied on a cross-sectional design, it is difficult for us to

Fig. 2. Samples and countries for career optimism research. (⁎ Part of multiple country studies). 6

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determine causal relationships between career optimism and the nomological network of variables to which it has been associated.

4. Theoretical perspectives adopted in career optimism research A number of theories or theoretical frameworks have been employed to understand how career optimism develops and yields influence. Such theories include planned happenstance learning theory, social cognitive theory and career construction theory. In this section, we review these key theoretical perspectives adopted in the career optimism literature.

4.1. Planned happenstance learning theory Planned happenstance learning theory which suggests that humans learn from both predictable and unpredictable events, and that unplanned events may translate into learning opportunities for career processes (Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz, 1999), has been utilized to explain how career optimism develops and influences career outcomes (Ahn et al., 2015; Kim et al., 2016; Kim, Jang, et al., 2014; Kim, Jung, et al., 2014; Rhee et al., 2016; Yang et al., 2017). In prior research career optimism has been treated as a happenstance skill that can help an individual to face unplanned events positively and learn from them. Reflecting an optimistic orientation, happenstance skills refers to an individual's capability, preparedness, and willingness “to generate and be receptive to chance opportunities” (Mitchell et al., 1999, p. 117), and are characterized by the individual's sense of adventure and planned intention to explore career possibilities (Kim, Jang, et al., 2014, p. 67). According to the planned happenstance theory, these skills are developed and accumulated through individuals' generation, recognition, and use of chance events into their vocational development. Meanwhile, happenstance skills, such as optimism, can guide them into proactively and constructively act to achieve personal career goals (Rhee et al., 2016). Drawing on this theoretical perspective, prior research has maintained that career optimism can be enhanced through occupational identity formation (Ahn et al., 2015), engagement in career activities, developing career decision self-efficacy, and eliminating career barriers (Yang et al., 2017). In line with planned happenstance learning theory, research has also argued that career optimism helps people to finalize or confirm vocational identities (Ahn et al., 2015), make career decisions (Kim, Jang, et al., 2014), and achieve a satisfactory career status (Kim et al., 2016). It is worth noting that this theory was developed in a Western career counselling context to guide counsellors to “facilitate the learning of skills, interests, beliefs, values, work habits, and personal qualities that enable each client to create a satisfying life in a constantly changing work environment” (Mitchell et al., 1999, p. 117). However, prior research drawing on planned happenstance learning theory to examine how career optimism develops and influence career outcomes has only been undertaken in Korea.

4.2. Social cognitive career theory Social cognitive career theory (SSCT) (Lent et al., 1994) and social cognitive theory more generally (Bandura, 1986), have been drawn upon to examine how career optimism develops in a growing number of studies (Garcia et al., 2015; McLennan et al., 2017;Spurk et al., 2015; Yang et al., 2017). The social cognitive perspective argues that career-related self-efficacy, outcome expectations and goals are important mechanisms that foster career development. It should be noted that despite the potential conceptual overlap, career optimism differs from outcome expectations outlined in SCCT, for it signals the dispositional (trait-like) or actual (state-like) expectancies toward positive outcomes more generally or broadly, while outcome expectations focus specifically on the consequences of performing particular behaviors. In line with SCCT prior work has contended that career-related self-efficacy beliefs shape career optimism (Garcia et al., 2015; McLennan et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2017), as well as highlighting that social support (or lack of) facilitates (or inhibits) the development of career optimism (Garcia et al., 2015; Spurk et al., 2015; Yang et al., 2017). These findings are consistent with SSCT, which highlights self-efficacy as key factors which fosters positive expectations of career outcomes and emphasizes the roles of contextual affordances in driving cognitive beliefs and expectancies (Lent et al., 1994). Indeed, these existing studies drawing on SCCT have extensively focused on state-like, developable optimism rather than trait-like optimism that Rottinghaus et al. (2005) referred to as dispositional optimism. In contrast to research on dispositional optimism, this line of research has primarily characterized career optimism in terms of positive or favorable expectations in relation to career outcomes (Spurk et al., 2015; Yang et al., 2017) to fit the SCCT framework. Although some research (e.g., McLennan et al., 2017) has successfully adapted Rottinghaus et al.'s trait-like definition of career optimism to argue that optimism is a kind of outcome expectation, caution should be paid to ambiguous SCCT applications where optimism is conceptualized as a tendency or disposition but examined as an outcome expectancy (e.g., Garcia et al., 2015). Apparently, the scope of career optimism needs to be defined clearly when it is integrated in the SCCT framework as trait-like optimism is more appropriate to be considered a personal input in SCCT while stake-like optimism is an indicator of outcome expectations. Furthermore, SCCT perspectives (Lent & Brown, 2008) are also supported by empirical evidence of positive relationships between state-like optimism with career and job satisfaction. However, just as empirical evidence is missing regarding the mediation process underlying the linkages between personal/contextual characteristics and state career optimism, SSCT-based mechanisms underlying the effect of optimism remain unexamined. 7

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4.3. Career construction theory Career construction theory (Savickas, 2002) has been drawn upon in a handful of studies to explain how career optimism develops (e.g. Santilli et al., 2017; Tolentino et al., 2014). This theory suggests that psychosocial, adaptability resources enable one to adapt to career tasks, transitions, and traumas, and thus lead to smooth career processes characterized by an ideal person-environment congruence, which shapes one's optimistic expectancy toward vocational futures. Prior work has tended to integrate career construction theory conjointly with other theoretical approaches. For instance, Santilli et al. (2017) integrate career construction theory as part of a life design framework to theorize that career adaptability fosters life satisfaction through enhancing individuals' positive future orientation (reflective of hope and optimism). In developing the Career Future Inventory (CFI) researchers have also integrated career construction theory with dispositional optimism theory (McIlveen, Burton, & Beccaria, 2013; Rottinghaus et al., 2005) to create an umbrella inventory which captures an individual's optimism, career adaptability, and perceptions of the employment market. Given burgeoning work on career adaptability, the central construct subsumed by career construction theory, it is a surprise that more work has not drawn on career construction theory to explain how career optimism develops. 4.4. Other theoretical perspectives In addition to the above-mentioned career theories, theoretical frameworks/perspectives from other fields have been cited in empirical work on career optimism. For example, personality frameworks such as the Big Five model, the reinforcement sensitivity model, the convergence of personality framework have been used to explain the link between personality and career optimism (e.g. Gunkel et al., 2010). Second, motivation system theory (Ford, 1992) which conceptualizes motivation as the interaction between personal goals, capability and context beliefs, and emotional arousal processes, has been employed to examine the individual and contextual motivators of career optimism that lead to career decisiveness (Chatterjee et al., 2015). Third, researchers have relied on social construction theory (Berger & Luckmann, 1996), which contends that reality is socially constructed and that reality varies across cultural groups, to postulate cross-national differences in career optimism (Gunkel et al., 2013). Finally, the dual-process framework of goal management (Brandtstädter & Rothermund, 2002) has led to researchers examining the effects of assimilation/ accommodation resources on career goal engagement and career/life satisfaction (Haratsis et al., 2016). This dual-process framework views career optimism as a mechanism that transmits personal resources into the pursuit of career goals (Haratsis et al., 2015). 5. Review of empirical work on variables related to career optimism The following section maps the nomological network of variables to which career optimism is related. Specifically, it unpacks the antecedents (individual and contextual) and outcomes (attitudes, behaviors, and identity-based) of career optimism before undertaking a brief discussion of how career optimism has been utilized as a moderator. We classified the antecedents and consequences in the following sections according to the perspectives adopted in each manuscript, regardless if the measurement was cross-sectional, correlational, or longitudinal. 5.1. Antecedents 5.1.1. Individual antecedents The individual antecedents of career optimism can be categorized into six overarching categories: personality traits, emotions, capability beliefs, career-related goals, adaptability resources, identity and motivations. 5.1.1.1. Personality. Research examining the link between personality and career optimism has typically focused on the ‘Big Five’ personality traits. Empirical work has found that while openness to experience (Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010), extraversion (Gunkel et al., 2010) and conscientiousness (Gunkel et al., 2010; McIlveen, Beccaria, & Burton, 2013; McIlveen & Perera, 2016) is positively related to career optimism, neuroticism is negatively related to career optimism (Gunkel et al., 2010; McIlveen, Beccaria, & Burton, 2013; McIlveen & Perera, 2016). However, previous research has uncovered mixed findings regarding the link between agreeableness and career optimism. Although some research failed to identify a significant relationship between agreeableness and career optimism (Gunkel et al., 2010; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010), other research found a strong link between agreeableness and career optimism (McIlveen, Beccaria, & Burton, 2013). Such discrepancies may result from the cultural contexts in which prior research was conducted (i.e., Gunkel and colleagues conducted their research in China and Germany, whereas McIlveen and colleagues conducted theirs in Australia). In addition, research has begun to examine whether major personality-related brain subsystems highlighted in neuroscience predict career optimism (Corr & Mutinelli, 2017). These systems include the Behavioral Approach System (BAS) that indicates one's approach tendency, the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) that underlies anxiety and neuroticism, and the Fight-Flight-Freeze System (FFFS), that emphasizes an avoidance tendency. It has been found that BAS predispositions toward reward interest and goaldrive persistence are positively linked to career optimism (Corr & Mutinelli, 2017). In contrast, the defensive predisposition system, BIS, has been shown to be negatively linked to career optimism. Such findings are consistent with those observed in prior work on the Big Five personality traits, given that BAS and extraversion share commonalities on an approach/proactive tendency and that BIS and neuroticism are highly conceptually related (Corr & McNaughton, 2012). 8

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5.1.1.2. Emotions. Research examining the link between emotions and career optimism has focused on general emotional states with the results suggesting that positive and negative emotional states exert opposing influences on career optimism. For example, Burger and Caldwell (2000) demonstrate that individuals with higher levels of negative affect are less optimistic about their careers, whereas Chatterjee et al. (2015) demonstrated that individuals with positive emotions are more optimistic about their careers. However, as Chatterjee et al. (2015) operationalized positive emotions as optimistic experiences, it is not clear as to whether the results will hold if positive affect/emotions are assessed more directly. 5.1.1.3. Capability beliefs. Growing work investigating the link between capability beliefs and career optimism has exclusively looked at self-efficacy beliefs. Self-efficacy refers to one's general beliefs regarding his or her ability in perform various tasks and activities (Bandura, 1997), and has been found to be positively related to career optimism (McIlveen, Beccaria, & Burton, 2013). Consistent with the view that self-efficacy is a domain-specific construct (Bandura, 1997), researchers have also examined the influence of career self-efficacy on career optimism. For example, Chatterjee et al. (2015) found that career self-efficacy is positively related to career optimism. Examining career self-efficacy in relation to making decisions about one's career, researchers have also established that career decision self-efficacy strongly predicts career optimism (Garcia et al., 2015; Yang et al., 2017). Finally, McLennan et al. (2017) found that self-efficacy in relation to one's work was positively related to employees' career optimism in relation to their future career. These findings suggest that both general and domain specific measures of self-efficacy tend to foster career optimism. 5.1.1.4. Career-related goals. A small number of studies have examined whether individual's career related goals are related to their career optimism. For example, Yang et al. (2017) found a strong link between an individual's career aspirations, which reflects their formulation of career goals, and optimism about their future careers. A strong relationship has also been established between goal decidedness and career optimism (Chatterjee et al., 2015). Finally, researchers have also revealed a positive link between goal-drive persistence and career optimism (Corr & Mutinelli, 2017). Despite this, researchers have not yet examined whether the achievement of career goals fosters career optimism. 5.1.1.5. Adaptability resources. Viewing career optimism as part of an individual's positive vision or orientation toward the future, Santilli et al. (2017) found that career adaptability (i.e., concern, control, curiosity, and confidence in adjusting to career situations) is positively linked to his/her optimistic future orientation. Similarly, McLennan et al. (2017) found that career adaptability is positively related to the career optimism of students through heightening their self-efficacy. Finally, assimilative resources, which denote the resources individuals adopt to modify the environment in order to minimize the discrepancy between their actual and desired states (Brandtstädter & Rothermund, 2002), have also been found to be linked to career optimism (Haratsis et al., 2015; Haratsis et al., 2016). 5.1.1.6. Identity and motivations. Researchers have begun to ascertain whether an individual's career optimism varies with his or her identity and internal motivations. Ethnicity, which is a surface-level identity characteristic, has been used to explain how career optimism differs amongst people with different ethnic backgrounds (e.g., that Caucasians appear to be more optimistic about careers than non-Caucasians (Hennessey et al., 2008)). Ahn et al. (2015) found that individuals who are exploring career options are more optimistic about their career than those who are not exploring career options (even if they have not yet developed a sense of career identity). Internal motivations may also make people more optimistic in their careers. For example, Duffy and Raque-Bogdan (2010) found that individuals with a higher level of service (prosocial) career motivation are more likely to be optimistic and inspired when thinking about their careers. Overall, these findings seem to suggest that intrinsic career identity and motivations are related to career optimism. 5.1.2. Contextual antecedents Compared with individual antecedents, contextual antecedents have attracted relatively less attention. In prior work on contextual antecedents, most research has examined contextual support, barriers and national cultures. 5.1.2.1. Contextual support. Empirical work examined the role played by social support in fostering career optimism. For example, Chatterjee et al. (2015) found a strong relationship between an individual's perceptions of social support (i.e., beliefs regarding external career-related social support received in general) and career optimism. In other research, social support has been examined in relation to the sources or the types of support provided. For example, Garcia et al. (2015) found that teacher support and parental support both shape university students' career optimism through heightening their career-decision self-efficacy. In the workplace setting, researchers have explored how social support in the form of social networks in the workplace may foster career optimism through providing mentoring opportunities (Friedman et al., 1998), and how career coaching may foster career optimism (Spurk et al., 2015). Furthermore, career counselling has been shown to foster career optimism (Rottinghaus et al., 2017). 5.1.2.2. Contextual barriers. Economic recession appears to be the key contextual barrier examined in prior research on career optimism. De Hauw and De Vos (2010) argue that recession leads to lower levels of career optimism. Researchers have also examined the negative link between disability and career optimism. Specifically, Hennessey et al. (2008) argue that when an individual perceives that disabilities interfere with his/her educational pursuit and reduce their quality of life, he or she will experience lower levels of career optimism. In Yang et al.'s (2017) study on career optimism, they found that Korean career barriers (e.g., difficulty in interpersonal relations, lack of interest, lack of information, issues with age), were negatively related to career optimism. 9

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5.1.2.3. National cultures. While career optimism has been studied across a number of countries, national culture has only been examined in Gunkel et al.'s (2013) eight-country study. On the basis of Hofstede's (2001) national cultural framework, Gunkel et al. (2013) examined the link between five cultural value dimensions and individuals' career optimism. They found that individuals from high uncertainty avoidance cultures exhibited higher levels of career optimism. In contrast, those from cultures with high power distance, individualism, or long-term orientation exhibited lower levels of career optimism. While a promising start, as these findings were obtained from only eight countries they should be treated cautiously until generalized on a sample that contains people from a wider range of countries. 5.2. Outcomes Prior work on the outcomes of career optimism has focused on a broad range of outcomes including vocational attitudes, vocational behavior, vocational identity, and satisfaction in the work and life domains. 5.2.1. Vocational attitudes A growing body of work has reported a positive relationship between career optimism and vocational attitudes across the career lifespan, including career adaptability (Duffy, 2010), career decisiveness (Chatterjee et al., 2015; Gunkel et al., 2010; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010), career decision certainty (Kim, Jang, et al., 2014), and career decision-making self-efficacy (Kim et al., 2016; Kim, Jang, et al., 2014). A negative relationship has also been found between career optimism and career indecisiveness (Duffy & RaqueBogdan, 2010). Prior work has also confirmed a strong link between career optimism and both career choice satisfaction (McIlveen & Perera, 2016), and career satisfaction (Haratsis et al., 2016; Kim et al., 2016). Overall, these findings suggest that career optimism helps foster positive career attitudes and limit negative career attitudes. Less examined have been the mechanisms that explain the effects of career optimism on vocational attitudes. For example, Duffy (2010) established that students' sense of control acted as a mediator of the relationship between career optimism and career adaptability. Similarly, Kim et al. (2016) examined career-decision self-efficacy as a mediator of the relationship between career optimism and career satisfaction. Researchers have also begun to examine whether personality characteristics moderate the influence of career optimism on career attitudes. For example, Gunkel et al. (2010) found that out of all personality traits, only neuroticism interacted with career optimism to reduce the levels of career decisiveness that result from career optimism amongst German students. However, they were unable to replicate their findings with North American or Chinese samples. Kim et al. (2016) found that tolerance of uncertainty moderated the relationship between career optimism and career decision-making self-efficacy, in such a way that the relationship was stronger when individuals had a greater tolerance for uncertainty. 5.2.2. Vocational behavior Prior work has found evidence of significant relationships between career optimism and vocational behavior including career preparation behavior (Kim, Jung, et al., 2014) and career goal engagement (Haratsis et al., 2015). However, Haratsis et al. (2015) did not find a significant relationship between career optimism and career goal development. Overall, our review found limited work that examined the influence of career optimism on other forms of vocational behavior such as job search behaviors. 5.2.3. Vocational identity Two studies have examined the link between career optimism and individuals' vocational identity. First, conceptualizing career optimism as a skill in the career development process that helps individuals identify appropriate careers, Ahn et al. (2015) found that those with higher levels of career optimism tended to have an achievement occupational identity status, in other words, a clear idea as to what their future occupation would be. Secondly, Rhee et al. (2016) found that students with an achievement or searching moratorium vocational identity status were more likely to use their career optimism skills. Overall these finding suggest that career optimism assists individuals in determining what they want to be in the future. 5.2.4. Other vocational outcomes Researchers have begun to examine the link between career optimism and other vocational outcomes. For example, Kim, Jang, et al. (2014) found a negative correlation between career optimism and career stress. In addition, a positive correlation has also been found between career optimism and young academics perceptions of their own marketability (i.e., the extent to which they believe they will find a job with another employer (Spurk et al., 2015)). Finally, researchers have found that those with higher levels of career optimism are likely to have greater psychological contract expectations in relation to job content, career development, training, financial rewards, and social atmosphere. However, no evidence was found of a positive relationship between career optimism and psychological contract expectations in relation to work-life balance and job security (De Hauw & De Vos, 2010). 5.2.5. Satisfaction in work and life domains There has been growing research indicating that individuals with high levels of career optimism are more satisfied in the work and life. Researchers have confirmed strong association between career optimism and both life satisfaction (Haratsis et al., 2016; Santilli et al., 2017) and job satisfaction (Spurk et al., 2015). In addition, recent research has established that student's career optimism is positively related to their satisfaction with academic major (McIlveen & Perera, 2016). 10

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5.3. Inconsistencies in the literature From our review, we identified inconsistencies in where career optimism fell in the nomological network of other career variables such as career decision self-efficacy, goal/career decidedness, and career adaptability. Specifically, some studies viewed career optimism as an antecedent of these variables (Duffy, 2010; Gunkel et al., 2010; Gunkel & Schlaegel, 2010; Kim et al., 2016; Kim, Jang, et al., 2014), whereas others viewed career optimism as the outcome of these variables (Garcia et al., 2015; McLennan et al., 2017; Santilli et al., 2017). These differences occur based on scholars conceptualizing career optimism as a trait (stable) or a state (developable). Taking career adaptability for example, Santilli et al. (2017) argue that the more people are adaptable in their careers, the more they will feel positive about their careers, whereas Duffy (2010) argues that the stable disposition of career optimism will more likely be adaptable within their career. However, due to the cross-sectional nature of this research, we cannot presume causality between study variables in either case. Therefore, repeating our previous calls, longitudinal research on career optimism is needed to determine causality between variables, and confirm in these cases if career optimism is an antecedent or an outcome. 5.4. Career optimism as moderator We only found one study that examined the moderating influence of career optimism on relationships between other variables. Kim, Jang, et al. (2014) found that the positive indirect influence of career engagement on career decision-making through career decision self-efficacy was stronger when individuals had higher levels of career optimism. Based on the review of prior work we developed a framework that synthesizes key findings from empirical work and assists researchers to understand the key antecedents and outcomes of career optimism identified in prior work. The framework is presented in Fig. 3 and prior empirical work on career optimism are presented in Tables 3 and 4. 6. Agenda for future research on career optimism Although we have witnessed growing literature on the antecedents and outcomes of career optimism, our review highlighted significant gaps in our knowledge and weaknesses in approaches adopted in previous work. First, our review established that career optimism has been measured inconsistently in previous work, and that researchers have typically relied on cross-sectional, single source data from undergraduate students. Such an approach brings into question the robustness of findings and their generalizability to other groups of individuals. Second, our review identified that comparatively less research has been conducted on the contextual antecedents of career optimism than antecedents at the individual level. We therefore have limited knowledge as to how career optimism might be influenced by the context in which individuals work and live. This limitation is perpetuated by the fact that the majority of research on career optimism has been conducted on students who are not working full time. Third, our review revealed that comparatively limited work has examined the influence of career optimism on vocational behaviors such as job search behavior and career exploration behavior. In addition, less proximal behavioral outcomes of career optimism such as obtaining commensurate employment, achieving career success, and performing in one's job have yet to be examined. As such it is difficult for us to ascertain the true value of developing individuals' career optimism. Fourth, our review revealed that although some research has drawn on theory to explain the development and influence of career optimism, a significant percentage of articles have not drawn on theory to explain their empirical findings. More work is needed to integrate relevant theoretical approaches to foster understanding of how career optimism develops and enhances vocational attitudes and behaviors. In order to address the gaps identified in our review of the literature we outline below a detailed agenda for future research on career optimism that targets opportunities for theoretical and empirical advancement of the field. Although prior work on career optimism has drawn on theories such as planned happenstance theory, social cognitive career theory, and career construction theory, many studies have failed to draw on theory to argue how career optimism develops and influences career outcomes. As well as continuing to draw on existing theoretical perspectives from the vocational behavior literature, we highlight three alternative theories, conservation of resources theory, broaden and build theory, and psychology of working theory, that may be drawn upon by researchers to examine how career optimism develops and influences individuals' attitudes and behaviors. We then highlight opportunities for empirical advancement of the field. In particular, we call on researchers to improve how they measure career optimism, improve the research designs they adopt, adopt multi-level approaches to understand how career optimism develops, undertake more work on the behavioral outcomes of career optimism, examine the negative effects of career optimism, and examine the unique effects of career optimism on career outcomes from other variables. An overview of potential research questions discussed in these sections are presented in Table 5. 6.1. Opportunities for theoretical advancement 6.1.1. Conservation of resources theory Researchers might consider drawing on the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989) to explain how career optimism develops and influences career-related outcomes. Under the COR theory, career optimism can be viewed as a personal psychological resource that leads an individual to invest greater resources in their career, and as a result positively influences career outcomes. In addition, given that the COR theory highlights the role of contextual resources such as social support and organizational support in fostering an individual's personal psychological resources (ten Brummelhuis & Bakker, 2012), it provides a succinct explanation as to how career optimism develops as a result of resources obtained from the contextual environment such as mentoring, 11

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Fig. 3. The nomological network of career optimism research.

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Table 3 Antecedents of career optimism. Antecedents

Category

Authors

Positive antecedents Extraversion Conscientiousness Conscientiousness Conscientiousness Openness to experience Reward interest Fight-flight-fear Emotions (optimism) Generalized self-efficacy Capability beliefs (career self-efficacy) Self-efficacy at work Career decision-making self-efficacy Career decision self-efficacy Career aspiration Goal drive persistence Goals (Goal decidedness) Career adaptability Career adaptability Assimilation Assimilation Service motivation Moratorium occupational identity status Context beliefs (perceived social support) Teacher support Parental support Career counselling Career coaching Network groups Mentoring Uncertainty avoidance

Personality Personality Personality Personality Personality Personality Personality Emotions Capability beliefs Capability beliefs Capability beliefs Capability beliefs Capability beliefs Career-related goals Career-related goals Career-related goals Adaptability resources Adaptability resources Adaptability resources Adaptability resources Identity and motivations Identity and motivations Contextual support Contextual support Contextual support Contextual support Contextual support Contextual support Contextual support National culture

Gunkel et al. (2010) Gunkel et al. (2010) McIlveen and Perera (2016) McIlveen, Beccaria, and Burton (2013) Gunkel and Schlaegel (2010) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Chatterjee et al. (2015) McIlveen, Beccaria, and Burton (2013) Chatterjee et al. (2015) McLennan et al. (2017) Garcia et al. (2015) Yang et al. (2017) Yang et al. (2017) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Chatterjee et al. (2015) McLennan et al. (2017) Santilli et al. (2017) Haratsis et al. (2015) Haratsis et al. (2016) Duffy and Raque-Bogdan (2010) Ahn et al. (2015) Chatterjee et al. (2015) Garcia et al. (2015) Garcia et al. (2015) Rottinghaus et al. (2017) Spurk et al. (2015) Friedman et al. (1998) Friedman et al. (1998) Gunkel et al. (2013)

Negative antecedents Neuroticism Behavioral inhibition system Negative affect Race/ethnicity Career barriers Economic recession Perceived impact of disability Power distance Individualism Long-term orientation

Personality Personality Emotions Identity and motivations Contextual barriers Contextual barriers Contextual barriers National culture National culture National culture

McIlveen and Perera (2016) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Burger and Caldwell (2000) Hennessey et al. (2008) Yang et al. (2017) De Hauw and De Vos (2010) Hennessey et al. (2008) Gunkel et al. (2013) Gunkel et al. (2013) Gunkel et al. (2013)

Non-significant antecedents Neuroticism Reward reactivity Impulsivity Accommodation Accommodation Career engagement Gender Benefit status Feelings of discrimination Masculinity

Personality Personality Personality Adaptability resources Adaptability resources Identity and motivations Identity and motivations Contextual barriers Contextual barriers National culture

Gunkel and Schlaegel (2010) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Corr and Mutinelli (2017) Haratsis et al. (2015) Haratsis et al. (2016) Yang et al. (2017) Hennessey et al. (2008) Hennessey et al. (2008) Friedman et al. (1998) Gunkel et al. (2013)

career counselling, training and development and education. In applying COR theory to career optimism, we suggest that researchers move away from convenient student samples and focus on how career optimism is influenced and developed in the workplace. Drawing on COR theory we would expect that the resources gained from participating in mentoring, career counselling, and training and development will enhance an individual's career optimism through protecting against resource loss (and the resultant reduction in career optimism) that results from career changes, redundancy, continuing education, and elongated leave (e.g., medical, family). We encourage researchers to combine this stream of research with career construction theory to examine if the resources that enhance career optimism are similar across different stages of an individual's career journey (e.g., early, mid and late career). That is, adopt a life span perspective to examine how career optimism develops.

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Table 4 Outcomes of career optimism. Outcome

Category

Authors

Positive outcomes Career decisiveness Career decisiveness Career decisiveness Career decision-making self-efficacy Career decision-making self-efficacy Career decision certainty Career adaptability Career knowledge Career choice status Career satisfaction Career satisfaction Career choice satisfaction Job satisfaction change Academic major satisfaction Academic major satisfaction Life satisfaction Life satisfaction Psychological contract expectations Career goal engagement Achievement occupational identity status External marketability Self-oriented perfectionism

Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Vocational Other Other

Negative outcomes Career indecision

Vocational attitudes

Duffy and Raque-Bogdan (2010)

Non-significant outcomes Perceived career success Career goal development Other-oriented perfectionism Socially prescribed perfectionism

Vocational attitudes Vocational behaviors Other Other

Spurk et al. (2015) Haratsis et al. (2015) Stoeber et al. (2016) Stoeber et al. (2016)

attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes attitudes behaviors identity

Chatterjee et al. (2015) Gunkel and Schlaegel (2010) Gunkel et al. (2010) Kim, Jang, et al. (2014) Kim et al. (2016) Kim, Jang, et al. (2014) Duffy (2010) Gunkel et al. (2010) McIlveen, Beccaria, and Burton (2013) Haratsis et al. (2016) Kim et al. (2016) McIlveen and Perera (2016) Spurk et al. (2015) McIlveen and Perera (2016) McIlveen, Beccaria, and Burton (2013) Santilli et al. (2017) Haratsis et al. (2015) De Hauw and De Vos (2010) Haratsis et al. (2016) Ahn et al. (2015) Spurk et al. (2015) Stoeber et al. (2016)

Table 5 Suggestions for future research aligned to different theoretical perspectives. Theory

Research question

Conservation of resources theory

How do human resource mechanisms (developmental assignments and training) influence career optimism? How do counselling, coaching, and mentoring interventions influence career optimism? Does servant leadership influence career optimism? To what extent do career changes, redundancy, continuing education and elongated leave (medical, family) influence career optimism? Does the provision of practical or financial support to unemployed people while they search for a job foster career optimism? Does the level of labor protection afforded to workers influence their career optimism through heightening their job security? Do economic factors such as economic growth, unemployment rates and job market competition influence career optimism? To what extent is career optimism developable? Does career optimism mediate the relationship between positive emotions and career success? Are the antecedents of career optimism similar for individuals in their mid-to-late careers to those at university? How does career optimism influence vocational behaviors (e.g. job search behavior, career exploration behavior, obtaining commensurate employment, achieving career success and performing in one's job)? Does career optimism increase individual's performance in the job search process? Does marginalization and economic constraints reduce individuals' career optimism? Does low level of career optimism prevent individuals from finding decent work, leading them to experience lower levels of well-being and work fulfilment? Does the career optimism of colleagues and supervisors in the workplace and classmates in school or college to influence career optimism?

Broaden and build theory Social cognitive career theory

Psychology of working theory

Social contagion theory

6.1.2. Broaden and build theory The broaden and build theory (Fredrickson, 2001) might also be drawn upon to explain how career optimism develops as a result of an individual's positive experiences one's life and work domains. The broaden and build theory highlights the role played by positive emotions in fostering positive work and career outcomes through the development of psychological resources such as optimism and resilience (Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008). Drawing on this theory, researchers might examine whether career optimism

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explains why those who experience more positive emotions are more likely to experience greater success in their careers. 6.1.3. Psychology of working theory Researchers may also consider drawing on the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT, Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, & Autin, 2016) to help explain certain antecedents and outcomes of career optimism, given career optimism shares some conceptual overlap with work volition, which measures an individual's perception of career decision-making ability despite constraints. Given individuals with high levels of work volition are also likely to have high levels of career optimism due to a belief that they are able to manage their career effectively in the face of constraints, we might expect similar contextual antecedents (e.g., marginalization and economic constraints) and outcomes (e.g., work fulfilment and wellbeing) of career optimism as for work volition as specified by the PWT. Drawing on this theory future work might examine whether an individual's experiences of marginalization (e.g., racial and sexual discrimination), and economic constraints (e.g., limited access to financial resources and social/cultural capital), leads he/she to be less optimistic about their careers. Future work may also investigate whether in line with the PWT lower levels of career optimism prevent individuals from finding decent work, leading them to experience lower levels of well-being and work fulfilment. 6.2. Opportunities for empirical advancement 6.2.1. Improving measurement of career optimism A significant concern identified in our review was a lack of consistency in how career optimism has been measured in prior research. In order to ensure that findings are generalizable and comparable across studies, we call on researchers to be consistent in how they measure career optimism in future research. Although seven scales of career optimism were identified from our review, only three of the scales were developed in line with best practice (Hinkin, 1998). As one of these scales measured negative career outlook (Rottinghaus et al., 2012) and Kim, Jung, et al.'s (2014) scale is yet to be validated outside of Korea, we advocate for the use the Rottinghaus et al. (2005) 11-item career optimism measure as it is the most widely validated measure of career optimism, utilized in 15 studies across 12 countries. Although the Kim, Jung, et al. (2014) measure has exhibited good validity across Korean samples, it should be validated in other cultural contexts to determine its generalizability. Finally, we are optimistic about the future use of McIlveen, Beccaria, and Burton's (2013) and McIlveen, Burton, and Beccaria's (2013) 3-item career optimism measure adapted from Rottinghaus et al. (2005). However, we would like to see more studies conducted to check its reliability and more specifically its predictive validity before it surpasses the 11-item measure as the preferred measure of career optimism. 6.2.2. Improving research design Our review revealed that the overwhelming majority of prior work on career optimism has relied on cross-sectional data. As such a research design does not allow researchers to adequately estimate causality in their models, we call on researchers to collect panel data using longitudinal research designs in order to provide stronger inferences of causality (see Tolentino et al. (2014)). In addition, as prior empirical work on career optimism has typically relied on data from a single source, common method bias cannot be ruled out. In order to rule out or reduce the likelihood of common method bias, future work should seek to utilize objective data or obtain data from multiple sources (see Podsakoff, MacKenzie, and Podsakoff (2012) for recommendations on addressing common method bias). In addition to adopting longitudinal survey designs over a period of weeks or months, researchers might consider adopting an experience sampling methodology (ESM) to examine whether career optimism changes over shorter time frames and the factors which lead to such changes. ESM is used to survey participants at regular intervals (every day to every few days) for a lengthened period of time (i.e., one week to several weeks) (Beal, 2015). Such an approach will be extremely useful to survey technology savvy groups such as students and recent graduates, and allow researchers to ascertain the effect of events such as obtaining an interview, receiving a job offer or rejection letter, or obtaining negative feedback at work on individuals' career optimism. Researchers might also consider building on recent work by adopting experimental designs to examine how career optimism develops. As experimental designs provide researchers with the ability to determine causality between variables (Shadish & Cook, 2009), we call on researchers to adopt experimental designs to understand how the cultivation of resources (e.g., counselling, coaching, and mentoring interventions) can be used to increase career optimism. Experimental designs might also be utilized to examine whether career optimism influences an individual's performance in the job search process. 6.2.3. Negative effects of career optimism As well as examining its positive influence, researchers should also investigate whether the development of too much career optimism may have a negative effect on individuals. Drawing on the unrealistic optimism literature from psychology and medical research (e.g., Weinstein, 1980), future research might look at the negative consequences that may result from having too high levels of career optimism, such as seeking promotion when it is not justified or seeking new career opportunities instead of focusing on one's existing job. 6.2.4. Unique effects of career optimism Future research on career optimism should include a greater number of control variables than prior work in order to demonstrate the unique effects of career optimism over related variables. Rottinghaus et al. (2005) demonstrated initial predictive validity of career optimism over general dispositional optimism, self-efficacy and positive and negative affect in relation to career exploration attitudes. Since then, we have witnessed limited work since to distinguish career optimism from related variables. We urge 15

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researchers at the very minimum to include general dispositional optimism within their models to explore the unique contribution of career optimism to career related outcomes, over and above that of dispositional optimism. In addition, we would encourage researchers to also examine the predictive validity of career optimism over other career variables in the nomological network such as hope, career self-efficacy, and work volition. 6.2.5. Multi-level approaches to understanding how career optimism develops Limited work has examined the contextual antecedents of career optimism at the group or organizational-level of analysis. In order to address such gaps in the literature future research might seek to identify organizational or group level variables that influence an individual's career optimism. In the context of business organizations, we might expect human resource practices such as developmental assignments, mentoring, and training to influence employees' career optimism. We might also expect leadership styles in which the supervisor focuses on the needs and aspirations of their subordinates, such as servant leadership (Eva, Robin, Sendjaya, Dierendonck, & Liden, 2019), and social support more generally, to foster career optimism due to the resources that they invest in their followers. In addition, drawing on social contagion theory we might expect the career optimism of colleagues and supervisors in the workplace and classmates in school or college to exert a significant influence on an individual's career optimism. Finally, drawing on conservation of resources theory, future research should examine the influence of institutional and economic factors on individuals' career optimism. For example, researchers might investigate whether the provision of practical or financial support to unemployed people while they search for a job fosters their career optimism. In addition, future research might seek to ascertain whether the level of labor protection afforded to workers influences their career optimism through heightening their job security and whether economic factors such as economic growth, unemployment rates, and job market competition influence career optimism. 6.2.6. The effects of career optimism on vocational behavior Our review revealed that comparatively limited work has examined the influence of career optimism on vocational behavior. Drawing on the social cognitive career theory, we call on researchers to examine whether career optimism leads individuals to engage in greater career exploration and undertake more job search activities such as looking at job ads and applying for more jobs. In addition, longitudinal work should be undertaken on less proximal outcomes of career optimism such as whether it increases the likelihood of individuals obtaining commensurate employment, achieving career success, and performing in their job. Only then would educators, career counsellors, employers, and policy makers be able to ascertain the true value of supporting individuals to be more optimistic regarding their careers. 7. Conclusion The purpose of this review was five-fold. First, we discussed how career optimism has been conceptualized in previous research, and highlighted the conceptually distinctions from related constructs such as career hope and self-efficacy. Second, we examined the strength of various career optimism measures, highlighting how the Rottinghaus et al. (2005) 11-item measure is currently the best fit-for-purpose measure. Third, we reviewed the theoretical perspectives that have been used in prior research. Fourth, we mapped the nomological network of variables to which career optimism is related through reviewing work on its antecedents and outcomes. 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