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Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Calling: Sexual Orientation as a Potential Moderating Variable

By Cassidy Wilson


LGBTQ individuals continue to be some of the most misrepresented and marginalized groups of people within society, and the workforce today (Köllen, 2015; Marrs & Staton, 2016; Myung & Park, 2016). My proposed area of research involves an investigation of the connections between self-efficacy and people’s sense of calling, with a focus on the potential moderating role of sexual orientation on this relationship. Previous research on the psychology of calling has revealed significant associations between people’s occupational self-efficacy and their sense of being called to that work (Domene, 2012; Park, Sohn, & Ha, 2016). The proposed research will build on their findings to test the hypothesis that, after controlling for background characteristics, sexual orientation significantly moderates the relationship between self-efficacy and calling, such that that the relationship is weaker for individuals who identify as LGBTQ.

Self-efficacy, a key construct in social cognitive theory, is defined as one’s self-perceived ability to succeed at a task (Bandura, 1977;1997). “Calling” has been defined as “an approach to work that is tied to one’s overall purpose or meaning in life and is explicitly used to help others” (Allan, Tebbe, Duffy & Autin, 2015, p. 307). Together, the theory and existing research suggest that level of occupational self-efficacy develops from background characteristics and experiences, including the perception of being called to an occupation. However, this pattern of results may not apply to LGBTQ individuals, who may be more concerned with other aspects of the work context, such as discrimination, harassment and stereotypes of what kinds of occupations are “suitable” for people of their sexual orientation.

My study aims to address the lack of research addressing the distinct career development and calling experiences of the LGBTQ population. Advancing knowledge in this way may also help identify and break down obstacles and limitations LGBTQ individuals face in the workplace, and career development today. This in turn may help to positively affect policy to better support LGBTQ workers, and start to foster a society where sexual orientation is not a barrier to follow ones calling. Moreover, since working within one’s calling is linked to higher job satisfaction and longevity (Allan et al, 2015; Dik & Duffy, 2009), this research may benefit company productivity, decrease strain on social assistance programs, and increase wellbeing and sense of fulfillment in employees who identify as LGBTQ.



Cassidy Wilson is a current graduate student at the University of New Brunswick. She is currently taking a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology. Besides the above research, her general research interests include: career counselling, career development, organizational psychology, issues relating to the experiences of sexual and gender minorities, policy reform and change, transition into adulthood, and counselling.



Allan, B. A., Tebbe, E. A., Duffy, R. D., & Autin, K. L. (2015). Living a calling, life satisfaction, and workplace climate among a lesbian, gay and bisexual population. The Career Development Quarterly, 63, 306-319. doi:10.1002/cdq.12030

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

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman.

Dik, B. J., & Duffy, R. D. (2009). Calling and vocation at work. The Counseling Psychologist, 37, 424-450. doi:10.1177/0011000008316430

Domene, J. F. (2012). Calling and career outcome expectations: The mediating role of self-efficacy. Journal of Career Assessment, 20, 281-292. doi:10.1177/1069072711434413

Köllen, T. (2015). The impact of demographic factors on the way lesbian and gay employees manage their sexual orientation at work. Management Research Review, 38(9), 992-1015. doi:10.1108/MRR-05-2014-0099

Marrs S. A., & Staton, R. (2016). Negotiating difficult decisions: Coming out versus passing in the workplace. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 10(1), 40-54. doi:10.1080/15538605.2015.1138097

Myung, J. H., & Park, J. (2016). Sexual minority and employee engagement: Implications for job satisfaction. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 2(1), 3-14. doi:10.20899/jpna.2.1.3-14.

Park, J., Sohn, Y. W., & Ha, Y. J. (2016). South Korean salespersons’ calling, job performance, and organizational citizenship behavior: The mediating role of occupational self-efficacy. Journal of Career Assessment, 24, 415–428.

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Lucie Morillon
Lucie Morillon is the Bilingual Content & Communications Co-ordinator for CERIC. With a passion for quality content, she connects with her online communities and provides strong resources to engage members – and always encourages new ones to get involved. She identifies, creates and curates the content destined for the ContactPoint website, the weekly CareerWise newsletter and Careering magazine.

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