Stress and career adaptability during COVID-19: A serial multiple mediation model

Main Article Content

Jianfeng Zhuang
Yali Jiang
Haiping Chen
Cite this article:  Zhuang, J., Jiang, Y., & Chen, H. (2021). Stress and career adaptability during COVID-19: A serial multiple mediation model. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 49(8), e10551.


Abstract
Full Text
References
Tables and Figures
Acknowledgments
Author Contact

To understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students about to enter the job market, we surveyed 754 university seniors to investigate the perceived stress–career adaptability relationship. We also assessed if positive psychological capital (PsyCap) and work volition mediated this relationship. The results show that the seniors’ perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic negatively predicted career adaptability. Moreover, the sequential mediation effect (perceived stress reduces positive PsyCap and work volition, which predicts career adaptability) was supported. Thus, lower positive PsyCap can reduce work volition and adaptability. We are among the first researchers to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has disadvantaged recent university graduates in the labor market, and we have provided new perspectives on how to improve their career adaptability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused a widespread economic recession but has also significantly and negatively affected university graduates’ employment throughout 2020 in China. As the pandemic has led many companies to stop hiring to reduce operational costs (Lan et al., 2020), there have been fewer employment opportunities for university graduates. The latest data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of People’s Republic of China shows that there were 8.34 million university graduates in 2020 (an increase of 400,000 from 2019), an all-time high. Thus, there is fierce competition among university graduates seeking employment. In addition, as companies prefer hiring candidates with work experience (Jackson & Wilton, 2017), this has made the university graduates’ efforts to obtain gainful employment even more difficult.

College graduates suffered a large increase in job loss and a large decrease in hiring rates during the COVID-19 pandemic (Cortes & Forsythe, 2020; Montenovo et al., 2020). According to a survey conducted in the US, 13% of 1,500 college students had delayed graduation, and 40% had lost a job or a job offer owing to COVID-19 (Aucejo et al., 2020). As the effects of the pandemic may last for a long time (von Wachter, 2020), college students who are overeducated and overskilled will be less competitive in the labor market (Sloane & Mavromaras, 2020).

Career adaptability, which refers to individuals’ readiness and resources for coping with difficulties in their vocational development, including transitions and traumatic events (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012), is crucial for university graduates to successfully face the occupational transition and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Career adaptability consists of four factors: concern (making plans for one’s future), control (making decisions by oneself), curiosity (being inquiring), and confidence (self-efficacy in problem solving; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). Previous researchers have found that university graduates with high career adaptability tend to have high job search self-efficacy and a good employment status (Guan et al., 2013).

Previous researchers have identified various personality or social factors, such as social support, as predictors of career adaptability (Hirschi, 2009; Jiang, 2017). However, most have overlooked university graduates’ disadvantages, inequality, and contextual factors in the labor market, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic (Blustein et al., 2020). An exception is Duffy et al.’s (2016) psychology of working theory, which provides a novel perspective to understand career adaptability because it considers contextual variables and highlights the importance of work volition on career adaptability. Graduates’ internal psychological resources, such as positive psychological capital (PsyCap), should also be included as predictors of career adaptability, as they have received little attention.

As Blustein et al. (2020) pointed out, the pandemic may have influenced young adults’ perception of the meaning of work, but the underlying mechanisms of this influence have not been identified. Thus, we investigated the perceived stress–career adaptability relationship in university seniors in China during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tested if positive PsyCap and work volition mediated this relationship.

Literature Review and Hypothesis Development

Perceived Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Career Adaptability

A threatening event that is appraised as stressful may cause perceived stress (Cohen et al., 2016). Appraisal theory posits that emotional reactions depend on how individuals evaluate situations (Lazarus, 1991). When they appraise situations as unanticipated, uncertain, and uncontrollable, they tend to feel stressed and develop negative emotions (Lazarus, 1991). In 2020, the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread out of control, becoming an important and threatening life event worldwide because of its high infectivity and lack of effective treatment. Zhao et al. (2021) found that, in China, the general population, including college students, displayed high perceived stress during the pandemic. Other researchers have shown that Chinese college students perceived COVID-19 as a stressor and reported high levels of negative emotions, such as anxiety (Cao et al., 2020). In addition, during 2020 university seniors in China were asked to stay home and complete their graduation online, thus objectively decreasing their opportunities for career development. University seniors with high employment stress in the complicated employment environment are likely to have suffered significant stress and negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, their perceived stress may have been high.

Perceived stress has a negative effect on career adaptability. According to the model of stress and disease, perceived stress results in negative emotional responses, such as anxiety, leading to maladjustment (Cohen et al., 2016). Negative emotions have also been associated with decreased career adaptability (Fiori et al., 2015). Moreover, perceived stress can directly cause university seniors’ expectations of their future to become pessimistic, which decreases their interest in their career (Bhagat, 1983), so that they lose perceived control (Coetzee & Harry, 2015) and reduce their curiosity and confidence in career development (Johnston, 2018). Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: The perceived stress of university seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic will be negatively correlated with career adaptability.

Mediating Role of Positive Psychological Capital and Work Volition

Positive PsyCap reflects individuals’ positive psychological state and resources, including self-efficacy (confidence in resolving challenging tasks), hope (persevering toward set goals and adjusting thoughts and actions accordingly), resilience (recovering after facing adversity), and optimism (having a positive outlook on the present and future; Luthans et al., 2010). Conservation of resources theory posits that individuals prefer preserving resources and that depleting resources may cause stress (Hobfoll, 2001). As coping with the COVID-19 pandemic consumes individuals’ internal resources and causes stress, perceived stress will decrease PsyCap. Undoubtedly, lower PsyCap decreases career adaptability (Safavi & Bouzari, 2019). Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: Positive PsyCap will mediate the relationship between university seniors’ perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and their career adaptability.

Work volition is individuals’ perceived capacity to make choices regarding their occupation despite constraints (Duffy et al., 2016). Duffy and colleagues (2016) developed the psychology of working theory, which assumes that disadvantaged (vs. advantaged) people, such as graduates (vs. experienced workers), face more constraints in their career development. This theory emphasizes the effect of contextual variables on individuals’ work volition and career adaptability, for example, those of lower socioeconomic status have poorer career adaptability. In the COVID-19 pandemic context, perceived stress has been a contextual factor that significantly and negatively affects work volition. In addition, Autin et al. (2017) found that work volition positively predicted career adaptability. Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: Work volition will mediate the relationship between university seniors’ perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and their career adaptability.

Work volition has been found to be positively affected by personal resources, including positive PsyCap (Cheung et al., 2020). Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 4: Positive psychological capital and work volition will be serial multiple mediators in the perceived stress–career adaptability relationship.

Method

Participants

Participants were 754 senior students from Jiangsu Normal University. After we had obtained approval from the Ethics Committee of this university, we sent the consent form and survey link on the WenJuanXing platform to the students via WeChat. The inclusion criterion was that prospective participants had to be university seniors. Respondents were informed that their participation was voluntary. We obtained 754 valid responses from 345 men (45.8%) and 409 women (54.2%). Their ages ranged from 20 to 26 years (M = 22.02, SD = 0.96). After completing the survey, participants were debriefed and given a small gift.

Measures

Perceived Stress
We used the Chinese short version of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Herrero & Meneses, 2006) to measure perceived stress, because Cohen and Janicki-Deverts (2012) stated that this version had good reliability and validity and high predictive power. Participants rate the four items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). Sample items are “Do you often feel like you cannot control important things in your life?” and “Do you always have confidence in your ability to deal with personal problems?” Cronbach’s alpha was .91 in this study.

Positive Psychological Capital
We measured positive PsyCap using K. Zhang et al.’s (2010) Chinese version of Luthan et al.’s (2010) 24-item scale. The scale comprises four dimensions: self-efficacy, resilience, hope, and optimism. Participants rate the items on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all compliant) to 5 (completely compliant). Sample items are “I am working hard to achieve my goal” and “I think life is wonderful.” Cronbach’s alpha was .93 in this study.

Work Volition
We adopted J. Zhang et al.’s (2019) Chinese version of Duffy et al.’s (2016) Work Volition Scale to assess work volition. This nine-item scale comprises three dimensions: career preparation volition, public opinion volition (e.g., “Despite my culture’s emphasis on employment first and career preference second, I will choose a job I like”) and career environment volition (e.g., “I can endure having a strained interpersonal relationship with my employer if I am employed in my dream job”). Participants rate the items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Cronbach’s alpha was .86 in this study.

Career Adaptability
We adopted Hou et al.’s (2012) Chinese version of Savickas and Porfeli’s (2012) Career Adapt-Abilities Scale to assess career adaptability. The scale comprises 24 items and four subscales (career concern, career control, career curiosity, and career confidence), each with six items. Sample items are “I think about what my future will be like” and “I make decisions by myself.” Participants rate the items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not strongly at all) to 5 (very strongly). Cronbach’s alpha was .97 in this study.

Data Analysis

We conducted a Pearson correlation analysis to test the relationship between variables using SPSS version 26.0. Then, we used Model 6 of the PROCESS macro for SPSS and the bootstrapping method to test the mediating effects (Hayes & Rockwood, 2017).

Results

Descriptive Statistical Analysis

We examined the correlations between variables and found support to test the hypotheses, because perceived stress was negatively correlated with positive PsyCap, work volition, and career adaptability (see Table 1).

Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlation Coefficients for Study Variables

Table/Figure

Note. N = 754.
** p < .01.

Hypothesis Testing

We then tested our proposed model. The results show that perceived stress was negatively associated with career adaptability (β = –.42, p < .01): the higher the perceived stress, the lower was participants’ career adaptability. Thus, Hypothesis 1 was supported. As shown in Table 2, perceived stress had a negative impact on positive PsyCap, and positive PsyCap had a positive influence on career adaptability, which indicates that positive PsyCap mediated the relationship between perceived stress and career adaptability.

Table 2. Results of Mediation Analysis (PROCESS Model 6)

Table/Figure

Note. N = 754.
* p < .05. *** p < .001.

As shown in Table 3, the effect of this mediating variable was −.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) [−0.53, −0.39]. Therefore, Hypothesis 2 was supported. Perceived stress had no significant influence on work volition, but the effect of work volition on career adaptability was significant. As shown in Table 3, as the effect of this mediating variable was .001, 95% CI [−0.001, 0.02], work volition did not mediate the perceived stress–career adaptability relationship. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was not supported. However, the effect of sequential mediation, that perceived stress was associated with career adaptability through positive PsyCap and work volition, was significant, −.03, 95% CI [−0.06, −0.01]. Thus, participants who experienced more stress had lower PsyCap, which along with lower work volition had a negative impact on career adaptability. Therefore, Hypothesis 4 was supported (see Figure 1).

Table/Figure

Figure 1. Model for Positive Psychological and Work Volition as Mediators in the Relationship Between Perceived Stress and Career Adaptability
Note. * p < .05. *** p < .001.

Table 3. Direct, Indirect, and Total Effects for the Final Model

Table/Figure

Note. PS = perceived stress; PPC = positive psychological capital; WV = work volition; CI = confidence interval.

Discussion

To our knowledge, we are the first to explore university seniors’ perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to assess its effects on their career adaptability (Blustein et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted more than a year and vaccination programs have only just begun. This situation may further increase the constraints and inequities for university graduates in the labor market (Blustein et al., 2020).

Theoretical Implications

Our main finding is that university seniors’ perceived stress negatively predicted their career adaptability. This is consistent with previous findings among employed adults, indicating that perceived high stress is harmful to career development (Urbanaviciute et al., 2019). Stress and associated negative emotions may have decreased university seniors’ sense of control in the stressful situation of the COVID-19 pandemic (Zhu et al., 2020). Further, Blustein (2017) showed that potentially vulnerable populations, such as university graduates, faced more constraints and felt they had low control over their careers. According to Duffy (2016), losing their sense of control can damage career adaptability development in college students.

The second main finding is that positive PsyCap mediated the relationship between perceived stress and career adaptability. This indicates that during the COVID-19 pandemic university graduates consumed internal resources, such as PsyCap, to cope with perceived stress, which fits with conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 2001). Facing resource loss (i.e., PsyCap decrease), university graduates cannot recover quickly (Hobfoll et al., 2018). This result is consistent with findings that higher PsyCap may be a protective factor for university seniors in the face of COVID-19 (Mao et al., 2020; Mubarak et al., 2021).

Our hypothesis that work volition would mediate the relationship between perceived stress and career adaptability was not supported. To our knowledge, no studies have investigated if work volition mediates this relationship. Our result that perceived stress had no significant influence on work volition is not consistent with previous findings that contextual variables (i.e., career barriers) decreased work volition (Autin et al., 2017; Duffy et al., 2016). Future researchers could explore this relationship.

Another key finding is the support we obtained for a serial multiple mediation model. Perceived stress was associated with positive PsyCap and work volition, which were then associated with career adaptability. In the first stage of the sequential mediation model, perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced university seniors’ positive PsyCap. This result is consistent with previous findings that fear of COVID-19 decreased hope (Saricali et al., 2020), damaged self-efficacy (Yıldırım & Güler, 2020), negatively affected resilience (Killgore et al., 2020), and increased pessimism (Jovančević & Milićević, 2020). Thus, for senior students facing employment, perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic may decrease PsyCap and work volition. In the second stage of the sequential mediation model, seniors’ positive PsyCap positively affected work volition and finally affected career adaptability, as work volition mediated the relationship between positive PsyCap and career adaptability. Thus, it is important to develop senior students’ PsyCap to deal with perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practical Implications

Our results have several practical implications. First, the university employment sector should pay attention to seniors’ perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce their perceived stress and improve their career adaptability, measures aimed at improving the employment environment should be used. The university employment sector could support seniors with online career planning courses. Second, university managers could use positive PsyCap as a tool to increase seniors’ work volition and career adaptability. Previous researchers have shown that PsyCap can be improved through intervention programs in both school and organizational contexts (Salanova & Ortega-Maldonado, 2019). Therefore, flexible intervention programs could be developed via social media platforms, such as WeChat.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

There are some limitations in this study. First, we used the Chinese short version of the Perceived Stress Scale, which, although very reliable and valid (Cohen & Janicki-Deverts, 2012), did not accurately reflect senior students’ perceived employment stress caused by the pandemic. Future researchers could develop a targeted scale to measure this variable. Second, as we included seniors only, we do not know how freshmen, sophomores, or juniors perceived the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected their career adaptability. Future researchers could focus on this issue. Third, as work volition did not mediate the perceived stress–career adaptability relationship, future researchers could use other theories and examine other mediators, such as social support (Ibrahim & Amari, 2018). Finally, as this study had a cross-sectional research design, we could not assess causality between variables. Future researchers could test causality using a longitudinal or experimental design.

References

Aucejo, E. M., French, J., Araya, M. P. U., & Zafar, B. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on student experiences and expectations: Evidence from a survey. Journal of Public Economics, 191, Article e104271.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104271

Autin, K. L., Douglass, R. P., Duffy, R. D., England, J. W., & Allan, B. A. (2017). Subjective social status, work volition, and career adaptability: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 99, 1–10.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2016.11.007

Bhagat, R. S. (1983). Effects of stressful life events on individual performance effectiveness and work adjustment processes within organizational settings: A research model. The Academy of Management Review, 8(4), 660–671.
https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1983.4284672

Blustein, D. L. (2017). The psychology of working: A new perspective for career development. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 33(2), 60–68.

Blustein, D. L., Duffy, R., Ferreira, J. A., Cohen-Scali, V., Cinamon, R. G., & Allan, B. A. (2020). Unemployment in the time of COVID-19: A research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 119, Article e103436.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2020.103436

Cao, W., Fang, Z., Hou, G., Han, M., Xu, X., Dong, J., & Zheng, J. (2020). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry Research, 287, Article e112934.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112934

Cheung, F., Ngo, H.-Y., & Leung, A. (2020). Predicting work volition among undergraduate students in the United States and Hong Kong. Journal of Career Development, 47(5), 565–578.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0894845318803469

Coetzee, M., & Harry, N. (2015). Gender and hardiness as predictors of career adaptability: An exploratory study among Black call centre agents. South African Journal of Psychology, 45(1), 81–92.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0081246314546346

Cohen, S., Gianaros, P. J., & Manuck, S. B. (2016). A stage model of stress and disease. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(4), 456–463.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691616646305

Cohen, S., & Janicki-Deverts, D. (2012). Who’s stressed? Distributions of psychological stress in the United States in probability samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(6), 1320–1334.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00900.x

Cortes, G. M., & Forsythe, E. (2020). The heterogeneous labor market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (3634715). Social Science Research Network.
https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3634715

Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D. L., Diemer, M. A., & Autin, K. L. (2016). The psychology of working theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(2), 127–148.
https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000140

Fiori, M., Bollmann, G., & Rossier, J. (2015). Exploring the path through which career adaptability increases job satisfaction and lowers job stress: The role of affect. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 91, 113–121.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2015.08.010

Guan, Y., Deng, H., Sun, J., Wang, Y., Cai, Z., Ye, L., … Li, Y. (2013). Career adaptability, job search self-efficacy and outcomes: A three-wave investigation among Chinese university graduates. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(3), 561–570.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2013.09.003

Hayes, A. F., & Rockwood, N. J. (2017). Regression-based statistical mediation and moderation analysis in clinical research: Observations, recommendations, and implementation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 98, 39–57.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2016.11.001

Herrero, J., & Meneses, J. (2006). Short web-based versions of the Perceived Stress (PSS) and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CESD) Scales: A comparison to pencil and paper responses among Internet users. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(5), 830–846.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.007

Hirschi, A. (2009). Career adaptability development in adolescence: Multiple predictors and effect on sense of power and life satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(2), 145–155.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2009.01.002

Hobfoll, S. E. (2001). The influence of culture, community, and the nested-self in the stress process: Advancing conservation of resources theory. Applied Psychology, 50(3), 337–421.
https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00062

Hobfoll, S. E., Halbesleben, J., Neveu, J.-P., & Westman, M. (2018). Conservation of resources in the organizational context: The reality of resources and their consequences. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5, 103–128.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032117-104640

Hou, Z.-J., Leung, S. A., Li, X., Li, X., & Xu, H. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale—China Form: Construction and initial validation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(3), 686–691.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.006

Ibrahim, M. M. S., & Amari, A. A. (2018). Influence of the psychological capital and perceived organizational support on subjective career success: The mediating role of women’s career adaptability in the Saudi context. International Journal of Business and Management, 13(9), 189–207.
https://doi.org/10.5539/ijbm.v13n9p189

Jackson, D., & Wilton, N. (2017). Perceived employability among undergraduates and the importance of career self-management, work experience and individual characteristics. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(4), 747–762.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1229270

Jiang, Z. (2017). Proactive personality and career adaptability: The role of thriving at work. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 98, 85–97.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2016.10.003

Johnston, C. S. (2018). A systematic review of the career adaptability literature and future outlook. Journal of Career Assessment, 26(1), 3–30.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072716679921

Jovančević, A., & Milićević, N. (2020). Optimism-pessimism, conspiracy theories and general trust as factors contributing to COVID-19 related behavior – A cross-cultural study. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, Article e110216.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110216

Killgore, W. D. S., Taylor, E. C., Cloonan, S. A., & Dailey, N. S. (2020). Psychological resilience during the COVID-19 lockdown. Psychiatry Research, 291, Article e113216.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113216

Lan, F.-Y., Wei, C.-F., Hsu, Y.-T., Christiani, D. C., & Kales, S. N. (2020). Work-related COVID-19 transmission in six Asian countries/areas: A follow-up study. PloS One, 15(5), Article e0233588.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233588

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46(8), 819–834.
https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.8.819

Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., & Peterson, S. J. (2010). The development and resulting performance impact of positive psychological capital. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1), 41–67.
https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.20034

Mao, Y., He, J., Morrison, A. M., & Coca-Stefaniak, J. A. (2020). Effects of tourism CSR on employee psychological capital in the COVID-19 crisis: From the perspective of conservation of resources theory. Current Issues in Tourism. Advance online publication.
https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2020.1770706

Montenovo, L., Jiang, X., Rojas, F. L., Schmutte, I. M., Simon, K. I., Weinberg, B. A., & Wing, C. (2020). Determinants of disparities in COVID-19 job losses (NBER Working Paper No. 27132). National Bureau of Economic Research.
https://doi.org/10.3386/w27132

Mubarak, N., Safdar, S., Faiz, S., Khan, J., & Jaafar, M. (2021). Impact of public health education on undue fear of COVID-19 among nurses: The mediating role of psychological capital. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30(2), 544–552.
https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12819

Safavi, H. P., & Bouzari, M. (2019). The association of psychological capital, career adaptability and career competency among hotel frontline employees. Tourism Management Perspectives, 30, 65–74.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2019.02.001

Salanova, M., & Ortega-Maldonado, A. (2019). Psychological capital development in organizations: An integrative review of evidence-based intervention programs. In L. Van Zyl & S. Rothmann, Sr. (Eds.), Positive psychological intervention design and protocols for multi-cultural contexts (pp. 81–102). Springer.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20020-6_4

Saricali, M., Satici, S. A., Satici, B., Gocet-Tekin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2020). Fear of COVID-19, mindfulness, humor, and hopelessness: A multiple mediation analysis. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. Advance online publication.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00419-5

Savickas, M. L., & Porfeli, E. J. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(3), 661–673.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.011

Sloane, P. J., & Mavromaras, K. (2020). Overeducation, skill mismatches, and labor market outcomes for college graduates. IZA World of Labor, Article 88v2. https://bit.ly/3hmEJzH

Urbanaviciute, I., Udayar, S., & Rossier, J. (2019). Career adaptability and employee well-being over a two-year period: Investigating cross-lagged effects and their boundary conditions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 111, 74–90.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2018.10.013

von Wachter, T. (2020). Lost generations: Long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis on job losers and labour market entrants, and options for policy. Fiscal Studies, 41(3), 549–590.
https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-5890.12247

Yıldırım, M., & Güler, A. (2020). COVID-19 severity, self-efficacy, knowledge, preventive behaviors, and mental health in Turkey. Death Studies. Advance online publication.

Zhang, J., Huang, Y., Zhang, S., Liu, D., & Qu, S. (2019). The measurement and individual differences of college students’ work volition [In Chinese]. Psychology: Techniques and Applications, 7(10), 629–640.
https://doi.org/10.16842/j.cnki.issn2095-5588.2019.10.008

Zhang, K., Zhang, S., & Dong, Y. (2010). Positive psychological capital: Measurement and relationship with mental health [In Chinese]. Studies of Psychology and Behavior, 8(1), 58–64.

Zhao, X., Lan, M., Li, H., & Yang, J. (2020). Perceived stress and sleep quality among the non-diseased general public in China during the 2019 coronavirus disease: A moderated mediation model. Sleep Medicine, 77, 339–345.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.05.021

Zhu, N., Jiaqing, O., Lu, H. J., & Chang, L. (2020). Debate: Facing uncertainty with(out) a sense of control – Cultural influence on adolescents’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25(3), 173–174.
https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12408

Aucejo, E. M., French, J., Araya, M. P. U., & Zafar, B. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on student experiences and expectations: Evidence from a survey. Journal of Public Economics, 191, Article e104271.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104271

Autin, K. L., Douglass, R. P., Duffy, R. D., England, J. W., & Allan, B. A. (2017). Subjective social status, work volition, and career adaptability: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 99, 1–10.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2016.11.007

Bhagat, R. S. (1983). Effects of stressful life events on individual performance effectiveness and work adjustment processes within organizational settings: A research model. The Academy of Management Review, 8(4), 660–671.
https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1983.4284672

Blustein, D. L. (2017). The psychology of working: A new perspective for career development. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 33(2), 60–68.

Blustein, D. L., Duffy, R., Ferreira, J. A., Cohen-Scali, V., Cinamon, R. G., & Allan, B. A. (2020). Unemployment in the time of COVID-19: A research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 119, Article e103436.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2020.103436

Cao, W., Fang, Z., Hou, G., Han, M., Xu, X., Dong, J., & Zheng, J. (2020). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry Research, 287, Article e112934.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112934

Cheung, F., Ngo, H.-Y., & Leung, A. (2020). Predicting work volition among undergraduate students in the United States and Hong Kong. Journal of Career Development, 47(5), 565–578.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0894845318803469

Coetzee, M., & Harry, N. (2015). Gender and hardiness as predictors of career adaptability: An exploratory study among Black call centre agents. South African Journal of Psychology, 45(1), 81–92.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0081246314546346

Cohen, S., Gianaros, P. J., & Manuck, S. B. (2016). A stage model of stress and disease. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(4), 456–463.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691616646305

Cohen, S., & Janicki-Deverts, D. (2012). Who’s stressed? Distributions of psychological stress in the United States in probability samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(6), 1320–1334.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00900.x

Cortes, G. M., & Forsythe, E. (2020). The heterogeneous labor market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (3634715). Social Science Research Network.
https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3634715

Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D. L., Diemer, M. A., & Autin, K. L. (2016). The psychology of working theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(2), 127–148.
https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000140

Fiori, M., Bollmann, G., & Rossier, J. (2015). Exploring the path through which career adaptability increases job satisfaction and lowers job stress: The role of affect. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 91, 113–121.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2015.08.010

Guan, Y., Deng, H., Sun, J., Wang, Y., Cai, Z., Ye, L., … Li, Y. (2013). Career adaptability, job search self-efficacy and outcomes: A three-wave investigation among Chinese university graduates. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(3), 561–570.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2013.09.003

Hayes, A. F., & Rockwood, N. J. (2017). Regression-based statistical mediation and moderation analysis in clinical research: Observations, recommendations, and implementation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 98, 39–57.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2016.11.001

Herrero, J., & Meneses, J. (2006). Short web-based versions of the Perceived Stress (PSS) and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CESD) Scales: A comparison to pencil and paper responses among Internet users. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(5), 830–846.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.007

Hirschi, A. (2009). Career adaptability development in adolescence: Multiple predictors and effect on sense of power and life satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(2), 145–155.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2009.01.002

Hobfoll, S. E. (2001). The influence of culture, community, and the nested-self in the stress process: Advancing conservation of resources theory. Applied Psychology, 50(3), 337–421.
https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00062

Hobfoll, S. E., Halbesleben, J., Neveu, J.-P., & Westman, M. (2018). Conservation of resources in the organizational context: The reality of resources and their consequences. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5, 103–128.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032117-104640

Hou, Z.-J., Leung, S. A., Li, X., Li, X., & Xu, H. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale—China Form: Construction and initial validation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(3), 686–691.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.006

Ibrahim, M. M. S., & Amari, A. A. (2018). Influence of the psychological capital and perceived organizational support on subjective career success: The mediating role of women’s career adaptability in the Saudi context. International Journal of Business and Management, 13(9), 189–207.
https://doi.org/10.5539/ijbm.v13n9p189

Jackson, D., & Wilton, N. (2017). Perceived employability among undergraduates and the importance of career self-management, work experience and individual characteristics. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(4), 747–762.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1229270

Jiang, Z. (2017). Proactive personality and career adaptability: The role of thriving at work. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 98, 85–97.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2016.10.003

Johnston, C. S. (2018). A systematic review of the career adaptability literature and future outlook. Journal of Career Assessment, 26(1), 3–30.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072716679921

Jovančević, A., & Milićević, N. (2020). Optimism-pessimism, conspiracy theories and general trust as factors contributing to COVID-19 related behavior – A cross-cultural study. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, Article e110216.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110216

Killgore, W. D. S., Taylor, E. C., Cloonan, S. A., & Dailey, N. S. (2020). Psychological resilience during the COVID-19 lockdown. Psychiatry Research, 291, Article e113216.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113216

Lan, F.-Y., Wei, C.-F., Hsu, Y.-T., Christiani, D. C., & Kales, S. N. (2020). Work-related COVID-19 transmission in six Asian countries/areas: A follow-up study. PloS One, 15(5), Article e0233588.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233588

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46(8), 819–834.
https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.8.819

Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., & Peterson, S. J. (2010). The development and resulting performance impact of positive psychological capital. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1), 41–67.
https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.20034

Mao, Y., He, J., Morrison, A. M., & Coca-Stefaniak, J. A. (2020). Effects of tourism CSR on employee psychological capital in the COVID-19 crisis: From the perspective of conservation of resources theory. Current Issues in Tourism. Advance online publication.
https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2020.1770706

Montenovo, L., Jiang, X., Rojas, F. L., Schmutte, I. M., Simon, K. I., Weinberg, B. A., & Wing, C. (2020). Determinants of disparities in COVID-19 job losses (NBER Working Paper No. 27132). National Bureau of Economic Research.
https://doi.org/10.3386/w27132

Mubarak, N., Safdar, S., Faiz, S., Khan, J., & Jaafar, M. (2021). Impact of public health education on undue fear of COVID-19 among nurses: The mediating role of psychological capital. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30(2), 544–552.
https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12819

Safavi, H. P., & Bouzari, M. (2019). The association of psychological capital, career adaptability and career competency among hotel frontline employees. Tourism Management Perspectives, 30, 65–74.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2019.02.001

Salanova, M., & Ortega-Maldonado, A. (2019). Psychological capital development in organizations: An integrative review of evidence-based intervention programs. In L. Van Zyl & S. Rothmann, Sr. (Eds.), Positive psychological intervention design and protocols for multi-cultural contexts (pp. 81–102). Springer.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20020-6_4

Saricali, M., Satici, S. A., Satici, B., Gocet-Tekin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2020). Fear of COVID-19, mindfulness, humor, and hopelessness: A multiple mediation analysis. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. Advance online publication.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00419-5

Savickas, M. L., & Porfeli, E. J. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(3), 661–673.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.011

Sloane, P. J., & Mavromaras, K. (2020). Overeducation, skill mismatches, and labor market outcomes for college graduates. IZA World of Labor, Article 88v2. https://bit.ly/3hmEJzH

Urbanaviciute, I., Udayar, S., & Rossier, J. (2019). Career adaptability and employee well-being over a two-year period: Investigating cross-lagged effects and their boundary conditions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 111, 74–90.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2018.10.013

von Wachter, T. (2020). Lost generations: Long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis on job losers and labour market entrants, and options for policy. Fiscal Studies, 41(3), 549–590.
https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-5890.12247

Yıldırım, M., & Güler, A. (2020). COVID-19 severity, self-efficacy, knowledge, preventive behaviors, and mental health in Turkey. Death Studies. Advance online publication.

Zhang, J., Huang, Y., Zhang, S., Liu, D., & Qu, S. (2019). The measurement and individual differences of college students’ work volition [In Chinese]. Psychology: Techniques and Applications, 7(10), 629–640.
https://doi.org/10.16842/j.cnki.issn2095-5588.2019.10.008

Zhang, K., Zhang, S., & Dong, Y. (2010). Positive psychological capital: Measurement and relationship with mental health [In Chinese]. Studies of Psychology and Behavior, 8(1), 58–64.

Zhao, X., Lan, M., Li, H., & Yang, J. (2020). Perceived stress and sleep quality among the non-diseased general public in China during the 2019 coronavirus disease: A moderated mediation model. Sleep Medicine, 77, 339–345.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.05.021

Zhu, N., Jiaqing, O., Lu, H. J., & Chang, L. (2020). Debate: Facing uncertainty with(out) a sense of control – Cultural influence on adolescents’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25(3), 173–174.
https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12408

Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlation Coefficients for Study Variables

Table/Figure

Note. N = 754.
** p < .01.


Table 2. Results of Mediation Analysis (PROCESS Model 6)

Table/Figure

Note. N = 754.
* p < .05. *** p < .001.


Table/Figure

Figure 1. Model for Positive Psychological and Work Volition as Mediators in the Relationship Between Perceived Stress and Career Adaptability
Note. * p < .05. *** p < .001.


Table 3. Direct, Indirect, and Total Effects for the Final Model

Table/Figure

Note. PS = perceived stress; PPC = positive psychological capital; WV = work volition; CI = confidence interval.


Haiping Chen, Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, No. 19 XinJieKouWai Street, Haidian, Beijing 100875, People’s Republic of China. Email: [email protected]

Article Details