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Theory:

Holland’s Theory of Career Choice

Theorist:

John Holland

Biography:

   Dr. John Holland was born in 1919. Dr. Holland has outstanding contributions to the areas

of vocational psychology and personality. His hexagonal theory of vocational interests and his

research has shown the importance of vocational personality interactions and the vocational

environment (The Career Key Blog: Dr. John L. Holland, 2008). Dr. Holland’s research has

shown that personalities seek out and grow in career environments they fit. Career environments

and jobs are classifiable by the personalities that flourish in them (The Career Key Blog: Dr.

John L. Holland, 2008).

   He was the first in his work on assessments of university environments,

and their influence on students and the development of knowledge concerning non-academic

accomplishments. He contributed significantly to research on originality and interpersonal

competence (The Career Key Blog: Dr. John L. Holland, 2008). Dr. Holland received the Award

of Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological

Association in 2008. The American Psychological Association presents the award to a person

“who has made distinguished theoretical or empirical advances leading to the understanding or

amelioration of important practical problems” (The Career Key Blog: Dr. John L. Holland,

2008). Dr. Holland passed away on November 27, 2008.
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Description of Theory:


   There are two different kinds of Career Development Theories- Structural and Developmental

Theories. Structural Theories- “focus on individual characteristics and occupational tasks,”

(Career Development Theory and Process, n.d.). Developmental Theories- “focus on human

development across life span,” (Career Development Theory and Process, n.d.). John Holland

was a Structural Theorist. Under the Structural Theory lies another theory- Trait and Factor

Theory. “This theory began with Parsons, who proposed that a choice of a vocation depended

upon (1) an accurate knowledge of yourself, (2) thorough knowledge of job specifications, and

(3) the ability to make a proper match between the two,” (Career Development Theory and

Process, n.d.). Unfortunately, there are still two major assumptions of the trait and factor theory

that are part of career counseling today. Those are: “(1) that individuals and job traits can be

matched (2) that close matches are positively correlated with job success and satisfaction,”

(Career Development Theory and Process, n.d.).

   Holland based his theory on that people find jobs based on what is reflective of their

personality type. People seem to be attracted to certain types of work, thus the environment

then is reflective of their personality.   Holland classified personality types and work

environments into six categories. Those categories are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social,

Enterprising, and Conventional- and this is often referred to the acronym RIASEC. Holland

believed the closer the match of the personality to the job- the greater the satisfaction (Career

Development Theory, 2003). Each individual can resemble all types- all types are in every

person. One type is shows strongest- Holland also stated that a person may even show up to three

types. He developed a hexagon model to illustrate his concepts of: Consistency, Differentiation,

Identity, and Congruence. See Figure One.
                                                                                                    3



                               Realistic



   Conventional                                         Investigative
                         C           R             I

      Enterprising
                          E          S          A          Artistic




                                     Social


Figure One



   The Realistic type likes to work with their hands and things- tools and machines. Occupations

that fall into that category are farmers, carpenters, and mechanical engineers. The Investigative

personality type likes to work with information- abstract ideas and theories. A good match would

be a chemist. The Artistic personality likes to create things. Some occupations suggested are

painters or writers. The Social personality is someone who likes to help others. Occupations for

that personality are social workers or counselors. The Enterprising type of personality likes to

lead. They would be good as sales representatives or an entrepreneur. Last, the Conventional

Personality likes to organize data. A good match might be an auditor (Career Development

Theory, 2003).

   Holland’s theory tends to be applicable for both genders. However, the downside

is that there has been some question that females tend to score higher in the female-dominated

areas of work- which tend to be social, artistic, and conventional. However, Holland’s theory
                                                                                                      4


places an emphasis and accuracy on self- knowledge and knowledge of careers to make

necessary decisions regarding one’s occupational choice (Career Development Theory and

Process, n.d.).

Theory Measurements and Instrumentation:

   The Career Key and the Self-Employment Key tests as well as other versions of The Career

Key test have been adapted in order for use in other countries. These tests are scientifically valid

and measure the six personality types of Holland’s Theory of Career Choice (The Career Key

Blog: Dr. John L. Holland, 2008). When using career tests, be sure to choose tests that are

scientifically valid measures.   Many career tests are invalid and can actually harm the

individual. If the individual is not sure if the career test is valid, they may visit this website:

http://www.careerkey.org/asp/your_personality/beware_harmfull_tests.asp

   Other assessment instruments that may be used which measure congruence, differentiation,

consistency, and vocational Identity are: Self- Directed Search –SDS (Reardon, 1999),

Vocational Preference Inventory (Big Picture View of Career Development Theory, n.d.),,

Strong Interest Inventory (Big Picture View of Career Development Theory, n.d.), My

Vocational Situation, and Position Classification Inventory.



Reported by:

Holly S. McVay
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References:

Beale, A. V. (2001). Emerging career development theories: a test for school counselors.

      Retrieved 9-10-09 from
      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_5/ai_80306017/

Big Picture View of Career Development Theory, (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2009 from

       http://ccdf.ca/ccdf/NewCoach/english/ccoache/e4a_bp_theory.htm

Career Development Theory, (2003). Retrieved September 23, 2009 from

        http://taracat.tripod.com/careertheory1.html

Career Development Theory and Process, (n.d). Retrieved September 23, 2009 from

       http://www.virtualhabitats.com/Students/CareerCounselorWebquest/Career%20Develop
       ment%20Theory.pdf

Chen, C. P. (2003). Integrating perspectives in career development theory and practice-Articles.

        Retrieved 9-23-2009

       from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JAX/is_3_51/ai_100389274/

From social learning to happenstance, (2004). Retrieved September 23, 2009 from

       http://www.guidance-research.org/EG/impprac/ImpP2/traditional/learning-theory

Overview of Career Development Theories, (n.d). Retrieved September 23, 2009 from

       http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=overview+of+career+development
       +theories&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

Overview of Career Development Theory, (n.d). Retrieved September 23, 2009 from

       http://extension.psu.edu/workforce/briefs/overviewcareerdev(insert).pdf

Reardon, R. & Lenz, J. (1999). Holland’s Theory and Career Assessment. Journal of Vocational

       Behavior, 55, 102-113.

The Career Key Blog: Dr. John L. Holland, 1919-2008. (2008). Retrieved December 10, 2009

      from http://careerkey.blogspot.com/2008/12/dr-john-l-holland-1919-2008.html
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Understanding and applying theories of career development, (2008). Retrieved September 10,

     2009 from http://wps.prenhall.com/chet_niles_career_2/25/6587/1686373.cw/index.html

				
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