Chance experiences and choice of college major. Primary data.

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Bäumer, Thomas
Scheller, Reinhold


Dataset Information

Title Chance experiences and choice of college major. Primary data.
Original Title Zufallserfahrungen und Studienfachwahl. Primärdaten.
Citation Bäumer, T., & Scheller, R. (2004). Chance experiences and choice of college major. Primary data. [Translated Title] (Version 1.0.0) [Data and Documentation]. Trier: Center for Research Data in Psychology: PsychData of the Leibniz Institute for Psychology ZPID.
Language of variable documentation German
Responsible for Data Collection Bäumer, Thomas; Scheller, Reinhold
Data Collection Completion Date 1992
Dataset Publication 2004
Dataset ID brts92zu11
Study Description Against the background of lifespan developmental psychology, social learning theory, and decision theory, the phenomenon of "chance" is examined with respect to college degree choices and its significant influence on professional development. A questionnaire survey measures the influence of chance experiences and locus of control on the college degree choices of 220 freshman college students. The results show that two-thirds of the students remember influential chance experiences which they deem important in regards to their choice of study. In particular, the number of random experiences increased the perceived study alternatives. It was indicated that chance experiences were primarily conveyed through the media. Comparing internal- vs. external-oriented people, there are no differences in the number of remembered experiences and the random assessment of their importance.
The findings suggest that the concept of chance deserves to be recognized when considering theories. The primary dataset of the survey and some derived variables are provided.
Hypotheses -
Keyphrase effects of chance on choice of college major, external vs internal locus of control & number & subjective importance of recollected chance events, 220 college students, empirical study, primary data
Funding -
Rating Inventories of chance experiences and a choice of college major cannot be assessed in terms of reliability. The reported findings provided a feasible survey. The internal consistencies of the competence and control beliefs questionnaire scales (Fragebogen zu Kompetenz- und Kontrollüberzeugungen, FKK) ranged from .59-.81, slightly below those of the test manual (Krampen, 1991).
File Access Criteria

Data files and additional material that belong to access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use


PSYNDEX Classification and Controlled Terms

Classification Classroom Dynamics & Student Adjustment & Attitudes
Occupational Interests & Guidance
Controlled Terms Occupational Choice
Chance (Fortune)
Internal External Locus of Control
Decision Making
Choice Behavior
Data Collection


Research Method Description

Research Method Description Questionnaire Data
Classification of Data Collection Fully Standardized Survey Instrument (provides question formulation and answer options)
Research Instrument The survey instrument was developed and specifically designed for the study. It includes the following sections:
(1) Demographic and general information: Reported age, gender, year of graduation, field of study, information concerning previous education, surety of choice.
(2) Inventory of chance experiences: Reports 9 different chance experiences that are derived from an underlying theoretical pattern. The pattern consists of a grid that covers the 2 dimensions of source (information, person, and event) and target (alternative, knowledge, and emotion). From these 9 chance experiences, those that were not personally experienced by the subject are rejected (assigned the value 0). The remaining items are ranked in order of importance (assigned the value 1 to a maximum of 9). The subjectively most important item is then classified on a 6-point Likert scale as to its general importance.
(3) Inventory of college major choice: Following a literature review, 28 items concerning possible influences on a subject's choice of college major were compiled. The items are classified on a 6-point Likert scale with respect to their subjective importance.
(4) The questionnaire on competence and control beliefs (Fragebogen zu Kompetenz- und Kontrollüberzeugungen, FKK) from Krampen (1991): The questionnaire measures self-concept of own abilities, internality, social externality, and fatalistic externality with 8 items for each belief. A 6-point Likert scale is used.
Data Collection Method Data collection in the presence of an experimenter
- Group Administration
- Paper and Pencil
Time Points single measurement
Survey Time Period 19th/20th of october 1992
Characteristics -
Population German freshman college students
Experimental Pool Individuals
Sample Convenience sample
Subject Recruitment The questionnaires were distributed to students attending an introductory event for freshmen held at the student counseling centre at the University of Trier in the main auditorium. The questionnaires were filled out following the conclusion of the event. An experimenter stood by to answer any questions and to collect the questionnaires. The event manager brought the questionnaire to the students' attention and asked them to participate. This introductory event took place on 2 separate days with attendees grouped by their choice of major.
Sample Size 220 individuals
Return/Drop Out A total of 300 questionnaires were issued (200 on the 1st, 100 on the 2nd day). Of these, 256 (85.3%) were returned. 36 questionnaires were excluded due to missing or incorrect information.
Gender Distribution 60,0 % female subjects (n=132)
40,0 % male subjects (n=88)
Age Distribution 18-28 years
Special Groups Freshman college students of the University of Trier
Country Germany
Region Rhineland-Palatinate
City Trier
Variables demographic and educational characteristics, chance experiences, reasons for choosing the college major, competence beliefs, locus of control


Data Status

Data Status Complete Data Set
Original Records Questionnaire filled out by either the subject or the experimenter containing closed and/or open answers
Transformation The original records were transferred into a primary data matrix following simple encoding specifications. The matrix (brts92zu11_pd.txt) is provided along with the codebook (brts92zu11_kb.txt). Some variables were derived from the primary data (for description of the chance experiences, values of the FKK scale). The matrix (brts92zu11_ad.txt) is provided together with the transformation instructions (brts92zu11_aa.txt).


Description of the Provided Data

Description Primary study data
File Name brts92zu11_pd.txt
Data Content 220 subjects, 77 variables
Data Points 220*77=16940 data points
Variables Subject ID (1), demographic and education-related information (5), subjective surety concerning choice of major (1), chance experiences (10), aspects of choice (28), beliefs of competence and locus of control (32)
MD5 Hash 848bde400f9fc22fa2fc3a3678ce9034
File Access Criteria access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use
Description Primary data and derived variables of the study
File Name brts92zu11_ad.txt
Data Content 220 subjects, 91 variables
Data Points 220*91=20020 data points
Variables Subject ID (1), demographic and education-related information (5), subjective surety concerning choice of major (1), chance experiences (10), aspects of choice (28), beliefs of competence and locus of control (32), field of study (1), characteristics of chance experiences (2), inverted FKK-items (4), FKK scale scores (7)
MD5 Hash da3f2079ec333d279653249b0e8f0588
File Access Criteria access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use


Description of Additional Materials

Description File Name
German codebook of primary dataset brts92zu11_pd.txt brts92zu11_kb.txt
Dataset transformation instructions brts92zu11_aa.txt


Publications Directly Related to the Dataset

Publications Directly Related to the Dataset
Bäumer, T., Scheller, R. & von Maurice, J. (1994). Der Einfluß von Zufallserfahrungen auf die Studienfachwahl. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 53, 166-177.Datensatz 0087950


Utilized Test Methods

Utilized Test Methods
Krampen, G. (1991). Fragebogen zu Kompetenz- und Kontrollüberzeugungen (FKK). Göttingen: Hogrefe.Datensatz 9002361


Further Reading

Further Reading
Bandura, A. (1982). The psychology of chance encounters and life paths. American Psychologist, 37, 747-755.
Cabral, A. C. & Salomone, P. R. (1990). Chance and careers: Normative versus contextual development. The Career Development Quarterly, 39, 5-17.
Krampen, G. (1987). Handlungstheoretische Persönlichkeitspsychologie. Konzeptuelle und empirische Beiträge zur Konstrukterhellung. Göttingen: Hogrefe.
Miller, M. J. (1983). The role of happenstance in career choice. Vocational Guidance Quarterly, 32, 16-20.
Salomone, P. R. & Slaney, R. B. (1981). The influence of chance and contingency factors on the vocational choice process of nonprofessional workers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 19, 25-35.
Scheller, R. & Greve, W. (1999). Rationale Beratung: Sackgasse oder Perspektive? Integrative Therapie, 25, 64-89.Datensatz 0129005
Scheller, R. (1986). Die Bedeutung zufälliger Ereignisse für die Laufbahnentwicklung und Laufbahnberatung. Zeitschrift für Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik, 82, 291-298.Datensatz 0060948
Scott, J. & Hatalla, J. (1990). The influence of chance and contingency factors on career patterns of college-educated women. The Career Development Quarterly, 39, 18-30.
von Maurice, J., Scheller, R. & Bäumer, T. (1995). Zufallserfahrungen und Interessenstruktur: Eine Untersuchung zum Wahlverhalten von Studienanfängern. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 9, 37-44.Datensatz 0092637


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