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Career Interests and Self-Efficacy Beliefs Among Young Adults With an Intellectual Disability


Laura Nota, Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialization, University of Padua, 35131 Padua, Italy. Tel: +39 04 98278464; E-mail:


Work is important for people with disabilities, and fosters their career development and quality of life. Findings from social cognitive theory suggest that transition to work and work inclusion processes should be based on opportunities to explore the world of work, awareness of professional options (of which people with an intellectual disability (ID) frequently have little knowledge), and consideration of career interests and self-efficacy beliefs. The present study was aimed at verifying whether people with ID present interests and self-efficacy beliefs in less complex occupations, and whether self-efficacy beliefs can predict career interests, similar to results observed with individuals without ID. The study also investigated differences associated with ID level and with gender. One hundred and twenty-nine young adults with ID were interviewed about their interests in and self-efficacy beliefs concerning occupations in six different occupational areas (e.g., realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional). Results showed that participants with ID tended to be interested in, and have higher self-efficacy belief levels, in low-to-mid-complexity occupations and also showed the predictive role of self-efficacy beliefs. Contrary to our expectations, however, no ID level or gender effects were observed. The findings underscore the importance of very early vocational guidance activities that emphasize these aspects in helping persons with ID set their professional goals.