John Hollands Theory of Vocational Personalities a

nd Work EnivironmentsJohn Hollands Theory of Vocational Personalities
Hollands theory of vocational personalities and work environments is the premier structural theory behind modern counseling. His theory structural theory is centered around the basic belief that people will seek out careers that offer environments that are compatible with their interest, likes and dislikes. This basic premise is the foundation for Hollands globally accepted vocational personality and work environment theory. This structural theory can be explained by four general statements. First, in todays society, generally most people will fall into one of Hollands six category types. These types are defined as Realistic, Intellectual, Social, Conventional, Enterprising and Artistic. Secondly, there are six kinds of environments that exists in modern society (Holland, 1966). These environments are also defined as Realistic, Intellectual, Social, Conventional, Enterprising and Artistic. Next people will search for the environment and vocation that allows them to best use there skills and talents, to express their attitudes and values, to take on problems and roles they like and avoid the ones that they dislike (Gottfredson, 1981). Finally a persons behavior is determined by the interaction of his personality pattern and his environment. Hollands theory allows counseling to define, explain and predict personality types and their compatibility with the work environment. Hollands theory on the surface may seem simple, but the interest in his theory are useful and can indicate much more than just the types of work a person will enjoy. The many components of abilities and personalities are contained within a persons interest profile.John Hollands Theory of Vocational Personalities
Hollands theory states that there are six different occupational personality types. These types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Each type can be defined as a combination of behaviors, needs, self concepts, goals, preferred roles, aptitudes and intelligence. Holland states that a persons personality pattern has a resemblance to each of the six category types. Their personality type is the category they most resemble. It is understood that no one person will fall completely into one category. Many people have overlapping personalities and fall into more than one, but it is also understood that there is one dominate category in each person (Holland, 1997). The dominate category is the one that will best define the person.

The first personality type that will be discussed is the Realistic type. This person can be described as being very masculine and stable. People that fall into this interest category would tend to like being outdoors and receive pleasure from working with their hands doing manual work. These people tend to enjoy working alone or with people of similar interest (Holland, 1997). Realistic type people have difficulty with environments that require great amounts of interpersonal activity. The jobs that Realistic people would tend to seek are blue collar jobs such as a plumber, photographer, and a heavy earth moving machinery operator. These are all heavily manual jobs and can be done with very little interpersonal activity. Other jobs that are more technical will also attract the Realistic person such as an engineer or airplane pilot. The education level of the Realistic personality was found to be 4.03 on a 6 point scale (Holland, 1989). This was the lowest of the six categories. The meanings of the different education levels are discussed in Hollands Occupational Finder.

The next category in Hollands theory is the investigative type. This type of person interacts with their surroundings by using their intellect, problem solving skills and the ability to use persuasive speech. Investigative types focus on ideas instead of focusing on people. These people have a high level of intellect and can think abstractly. They also tend to avoid stressful and emotional environments and are unconcerned about social relationships (Holland, 1997). The Investigative type has the highest education level of the six category types. Hollands scale shows that a score of 5.48 is needed to be successful in these type of jobs (Holland, 1989). These people tend to work in fields that require a great amount of educational knowledge. One such field that is dominated by Investigative types is the medical field. Doctors, scientist, and skilled technicians tend to hold these types of jobs. They are skilled in their particular field but tend to be distant when it comes to relating to the people they serve on a person level. It is also noted that out of the six categories the Investigative types have the highest need for prestige.

The Artistic type is the next category in Hollands structural theory. These individuals interact with their surroundings by using their imagination, emotions and feelings. They are considered to be very creative people. They prefer to work in environments that will allow them the freedom to use their ideas to express themselves. These type people chose careers such as poets, musicians, writers and designers. The education level of these types of people rank second highest of the six categories. Artistic types live life on the edge of normally accepted behavior. They tend to go against the norms of society. They are also very emotional and sensitive people, which may explain why they tend to have a higher rate of personality disorders when compared to the other personality types (Lowman, 1991). They are not driven by economic rewards, but are driven to seek out the internal rewards they feel by expressing themselves.
The Social type is the next category that will be discussed. These people enjoy working with other people on a personal level. They use their social skills when dealing with there surroundings. There is a reliance on social interactions and they tend to react with their feelings and emotions. When confronted with a problem situation the Social person will use emotions rather than intellect. These type people tend to work as teachers, counselors, psychologist and case workers. These fields are chosen because they require social interactions with many people. These type people receive a great deal of satisfaction when from helping people in need of their services (Kline, 1966). These occupations are not very prestigious in society, but are very important in the fact that they provide a much needed service. The fact that most social occupations are not high paying careers reenforces the idea that other intrinsic satisfaction is gained from helping other people. These occupations are best done in a environment that is caring and nurturing. The Social individual puts the needs of others above their own personal needs.

The Enterprising type is the fifth category that Holland identifies. These people are dominating, impulsive and very outgoing people. These people also enjoy working with other people, but unlike the Social type, Enterprising people wish to control and dominate others. The professions that are usually dominated by this type of individual are managers, politicians, and salesman. These individuals tend to seek control and influence over other people. They interact in relationships on the bases of who has control over the other person (Krumboltz, 1996). They are excellent at directing others to accomplish set goals and they are usually at the top of the work hierarchy. The Enterprising person would seek out environments that are not very interpersonal and are more directed at accomplishing a task through the direction of others. Enterprising people are often found in large businesses or settings that require organization and accountability. The environments found in these careers are very impersonal and centered around defining who is in charge and giving direction to subordinates. They enjoy the freedom of being in control of a particular situation, which enables them to use there intellect to guide others in the way they see fit.

The last personality type identified by Holland is the Conventional category. These individuals seek out environments that are very structured and require a high level of detail (Farmer, 1985). The Conventional person will enjoy working with numbers and people. They are generally found in clerical careers, tellers, cashiers, office managers and accountants (Chacko, 1991). These type people are the least flexible of the six categories, when it comes to their environment. They perform bests in environments that have clear direction and procedures for reaching goals. These types of people do well in governmental agencies where policies are stressed and rules leave little room for deviation.
Holland also has researched the education levels of the different types of personality categories and he reports his findings in the Occupations Finder. He created a scale that ranges from 1 to 6. The lowest score of 1 is equivalent to having some elementary education. At this level a person needs common sense and the ability to follow simple one or two step instructions. They must be able to handle simple math, write and speak with a limited vocabulary. The next score of 2 equals to having a complete elementary education. At this level a person needs common sense and must be able to follow detailed written and oral instructions. They need skills in reading, writing, and simple math. They also must use understandable speech. The following score of 3 is equal to having a high school education. When a person reaches this level of education they are more advanced than the two previous levels. At this level a person must have common sense, and be able to follow detailed written or detailed oral instruction. They must also perform mathematical computations and read detailed manuals. They need to have the ability to use correct grammar and speech when communicating. The next level on the scale is number 4. At this level a person musts have obtained a high school and some college education. They must apply rules to bookkeeping, mechanics, wiring, and navigation. They also must also posses the ability to apply principles to some mathematical problems in geometry and algebra. The next level is level 5. This level on Hollands scale states that a person must have more college education than the forth level. They need to be logical in thinking and have the ability perform difficult calculations in algebra or statistics. There language level is very similar to that of level 6. The final and highest level on Holland scale is level 6. This level requires a complete college education. The person must be able to think logically and abstractly. They must posses advance math skills, be able to read literature, science and technical journals. This level requires that the person be able to use advanced persuasive speech along with correct grammar. This General Educational Development scale is used to explain the different educational requirements that will be needed by a individual in a particular career. The scale correlates to different jobs in Hollands Occupational Finder. The scale gives a basic overview of the development that a person must have to perform well in a chosen occupation. The GED summarizes the general amount of language skills, math skills and reasoning skills required by different jobs. This is a helpful tool to the rehabilitation counselor (Holland, 1989).

Hollands theory of vocational personalities and work environments is the dominate modern measurement of vocational interest. His theory has been widely accepted by the clinical community (Trusty, Robinson & Plata, 2000). It is also noted that Hollands theory is said to be complex in practical vocational use, but is easy to understand theoretically. His theory states that each category has its own definite characteristics, but each type is related to the other. Hollands theory has been researched many times sense it was introduced and even though there has been great debate over the number of personality types, there has been consistency with its outcomes (De Fruyt & Mervielde, 1999). This simply means that when a person is tested on a interest inventory instrument such as the Self Directed Search (SDS) or the Vocational Preference Inventory ( VPI) the results hold true to the theory. People tend to seek out and succeed in careers that fit their own individual personality requirements.

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De Fruyt, F.; Mervielde, I. (1999). RIASEC types and Big Five Traits as Predictors of Employment Status. Personal Psychology, 52, 701.

Farmer, H. S. (1985). Model of Career Achievement Motivation for Women and Men. Journal of Counseling Psychology,32, 363-390.

Gottfredson, L. S. (1981). Circumscription and Compromise: A Developmental Theory of Occupational Aspirations. Journal of Counseling Psychology,28, 545-579.

Holland, John L. (1966). A psychological classification scheme for vocations and major fields. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 13, 278-288.

Holland, J. L., Fritzsche, B. A., Powell, A. B. (1997). Self-Directed Search Technical Manual. Odessa, Florida: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Holland, John L. (1989). Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes (2nd ed.). Odessa, Florida: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Holland, John L. (1997). Making Vocational Choices (3rd. Ed.). Odessa, Florida: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Kline, Paul (1966). Psychology off Vocational Guidance. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Krumboltz, J. D. (1996). A Learning Theory of Career Counseling. California: Davies-Black.
Lowman, Rodney L. (1991). The Clinical Practice of Career Assessment: Interest, Abilities, and Personalities (1st ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Trusty, J.; Robinson, C.; Plata, M. (2000). Effects of Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Early Academic Performance on Postsecondary Educational Choice. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, 463.


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