1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The origin of emotional intelligence could be traced back to Charles Darwin’s work on the importance of emotional expression to survival and successful adaptation. In the 1900 even though traditional definitions of intelligence emphasized cognitive aspects such as memory and problem- solving, several influential researchers in the intelligence field of study had begun to recognize the importance of non-cognitive aspects. For instance, as early as 1920, R. K. Thorndike used the term social intelligence to describe the skill of understanding and managing other people (Hein, 2005).
Emotional intelligence develops over a person’s life span and could be enhanced through training and teaching and learning in formal educational contexts (Jaeger, 2003).
Emotional intelligence is generally regarded as a factor with the potential to contribute to more positive attitudes, behaviours and outcomes and has been related to career success (Goleman, 1998). Researchers and career counsellors have also recognised the significance of emotional intelligence in career success, career satisfaction and well-being (Kidd, 2008). No wonder, Pool and Sewell (2007) further regard the development of Emotion intelligence as desirable for enhancing individuals’ employability and career choices.
Creating a career in a world with decreased job security, fast-paced technology and increasing personal responsibility for constant up-skilling, employability and lifelong learning are some of the key challenges faced by today’s workforce (Sinclair, 2009).
Researchers have noted that the complexities of the increasingly turbulent career context have significantly impacted people’s career attitudes and affective experiences of their working lives (Kidd, 2007).
Some of these attitudes and experiences relate to less positive work experiences resulting from more frequent career transitions, a sense of instability and dissatisfying and insecure working conditions. In response to the more turbulent and uncertain career contexts, people seem to adopt a more proactive stance toward their careers by taking personal ownership for their career development and focusing on their subjective experiences of career success and continued employability (Lumley, 2010).
Individuals’ employability provides them with an inner sense of stability and security and relates to their ability to achieve sustainable employment and move self-sufficiently within an uncertain and unpredictable labour market (Hillage and Pollard, 1998).
Employability is regarded as a form of functional flexibility or career resiliency and reflects individuals’ self-efficacious beliefs about the possibilities of their getting and maintaining employment even in the face of uncertain work circumstances (Berntson, Näswall and Sverke, 2008).
Employability presupposes proactive career behaviours and abilities that help people to fulfill, acquire or create work through the optimal use of both occupation-related and career meta-competencies (Schreuder and Coetzee, 2011).
Career meta-competencies include awareness of the motives and values (or career anchors) that drive one’s career decisions and experiences of career satisfaction, behavioural adaptability and emotional literacy in dealing with setbacks and failures (Coetzee and Bergh, 2009).
As a career meta-competency, research increasingly recognises emotional intelligence as an important attribute of people’s employability and career decision-making (Yorke and Knight, 2004).
Emotional intelligence positively relates to less dysfunctional career thinking, greater career decision-making self-efficacy, a higher level of willingness to explore a variety of career preferences, and to commit to attractive career options (Puffer, 2011).
People’s emotional intelligence is also positively associated with important employment experiences and their emotional attachment to their current careers and jobs (Carson and Carson, 1998).
However, the research literature provides evidence of the relationship between people’s emotional intelligence and their employability, there seems to be a paucity of research regarding the relationship between people’s emotional intelligence and their career anchors, and how their career anchors relate to their employability satisfaction (Coetzee, Bergh and Schreuder, 2010).
Career anchors are regarded as an important aspect of individuals’ career self-concept, which provides clarity of career values, motives, interests and needs. Awareness of one’s career anchors and how these influence one’s job and career satisfaction have been related to positive career choice outcomes (Schein, 1990).
Emotional intelligence positively relates to less dysfunctional career thinking, greater career decision-making, self-efficacy and a higher level of willingness to explore a variety of career preferences and to commit to attractive career options (Puffer, 2011).
Salovey and Mayer (1990) state that original model of emotional intelligence is relevant to the present study.
Gardner (1983) stresses that interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people and what motivates them and intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to form an accurate model and understanding of oneself and to use the model to operate effectively in life.
Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) model proposes that emotional intelligence consists of a set of four conceptually related mental processes: efficiently handling psychological and social problems, accurately appraising and expressing emotion in the self and others, regulating emotion in the self and others, and using emotions adaptively in order to solve problems and achieve one’s goals. The ability to monitor one’s own emotional landscape is thought to lead to greater insight and self-knowledge (Goleman, 1998).
Salovey and Mayer (1990) opine that people differ in the degree to which they display their emotional intelligence. Individuals who appraise and express (perceive and respond to) their emotions accurately are likely to be better understood by the people with whom they interact. They also have the potential to better influence people when they are able to perceive the emotions of the people with whom they interact, as well as to develop empathy (the ability to comprehend another’s feelings and re-experience them oneself).
Career choice is a culmination of a series of decisions. Decisions regarding people’s values, tasks and activities of interest, levels of aspirations, how their work roles interact with their non-work roles, and what information to seek and how to seek it are important part of the decision-making processes which are likely to be influenced by the emotional makeup. Emotions experienced in the career decision-making process may influence the career options being considered, tolerance for risky career decisions, amount and type of career exploration activities individuals will engage in the choice process, how much effort to invest in the process and how the information related to career choice is processed (Emmerling and Cherniss, 2003).
Based on the aforementioned influences, it is expected that an individual’s dissatisfaction with his/her current career choice can motivate the individual to engage in career planning, exploration and decision-making with the aim of finding a more satisfying career. The current increased wave of unemployment, career instability and change and trend toward boundary less careers or protean careers calls for the ability to use emotions adaptively in the career choice-making process (Lumley, 2010).
Cooper (1997) argues that those who trust and use their feelings effectively could achieve a more successful career. Although numerous empirical studies on the relationship between EI (emotional intelligence) and career development appear in the literature, relatively little is known about this relationship in developing countries (Caruso and Wolfe, 2001).
Many elements of the present consensus on the role of emotional intelligence in career development developed from studies of western samples may be directly applicable to developing countries. However, it is likely that differences in macro-environmental factors namely, socio-cultural and economic situations may render the commonly accepted notions of the role of emotional intelligence in career development inappropriate in many developing countries (including Nigeria) (Thomas and Inkson, 2006).
The role of emotional intelligence in the society and particularly in the workplace has generated a lot of interest within the scientific community and the general public in the last few decades. Emotions play significant albeit often misunderstood roles in the career decision-making process (Emmerling and Cherniss, 2003).
The lack of a coherent theory that explains the role of emotions in career decision-making might have been responsible for the researchers’ and practitioners’ limited insight into this major aspect of mental life. The seeming absence of theory and research on emotional processes in the career decision-making literature and general literature on judgment and decision-making, until recently, is surprising given the significant role of affective processes in other sub-disciplines within psychology (Emmerling and Cherniss, 2003).
Emmerling and Cherniss (2003) state that this might be due to an implicit desire to separate the practice of career which focused on interest testing, self-exploration strategies and examination of career resource materials, from the practice of psychotherapy which focused on emotional processes.
In Nigeria, the tradition or cultural practice is that the family or the parents know the best and as such, they dictate the type of occupation that the children will choose regardless of the children’s abilities and interests (Salami, 2007).
The reason for parents’ decision-making might be that their children should go into well-paid jobs so that family financial problems can be solved. Furthermore, the cultural beliefs and societal expectations are that the females do not need to be too serious about occupational choice. They are expected to go into female gender-role stereotyped lower occupations, where salary levels are relatively low, because they are expected to be helpers to their husbands who are expected to be the breadwinners for the family (Salami, 2001).
For this, the females may be less career mature than the males. Generally, there is lack of career maturity for the secondary school students (Salami, 2008).
This might be due to perceptions of restrictive post-graduation vocational options. Where to go next after graduating from secondary school students may pose problems (Salami, 2001).
A sense of limited career options may be magnified by lack of meaningful employment options witnessed in contemporary Nigerian economy for there is mass unemployment (Oyebade, 2003). When high school students think of mass unemployment of the graduates, they might not be motivated to take the matter of career decision-making seriously. Instead, they might likely feel frustrated and confused. Given the arguments for the fundamental role of emotion in career decision-making and career development, and the limited research on the role of emotion in the career development process, an investigation of the role of emotion in relation to career decision-making and career maturity is warranted (Emmerling and Cherniss, 2003).
Career development, for most people, is a lifelong process of engaging the work world through choosing among employment opportunities made available to them. It is a process of getting ready to choose, choosing, and continuing to make choices (Brown, Brooks and Associates, 1996).