Variations of career decision ambiguity tolerance between China and the United States and between high school and college

Hui Xu, Zhi Jin Hou, Terence Tracey, Xin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The variation of career decision ambiguity tolerance (CDAT) by cultures and development stages was examined in a sample of Chinese high school students (n = 339), a sample of Chinese college students (n = 356), along with U.S. college students (n = 328). It was hypothesized that career decision ambiguity tolerance decreases when individuals experience more societal/cultural pressure on decidedness and responsibility for their career decision making. Based on the three-factor structure of CDAT (i.e., preference, tolerance, and aversion), measurement invariance was examined between Chinese and U.S. college students and between Chinese high school and college students. While the factor of tolerance was not upheld in both Chinese samples, the factors of preference and aversion were found to be structurally invariant across cultures and developmental stages. The analyses comparing means of preference and aversion found that U.S. college students had a higher level of preference relative to Chinese college students. It was also found that in comparison to Chinese high school students, Chinese college students had a higher level of aversion. The criterion validity of CDAT in Chinese culture was supported in the findings of preference and aversion being associated with career exploration and career indecision. The implication of this study was discussed along with its limitations and suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-128
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Ambiguity tolerance
  • Career decision
  • Cross-culture
  • High school and college
  • Measurement invariance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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