Monday, February 9, 2015

John Lewis Holland - Holland's Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments

John Lewis Holland

John Holland developed a theory about vocational personalities and work environments.
He developed the theory that people are made up of 6 basic personality types and for a contented life people should work in work environments that match their personalities.

He started his research in the 1950's and developed the VPI or Vocational Preference Inventory.  Then in 1970, he published the Self-Directed Search as a way to identify personality type and occupational awareness.
Theories of Types

         6 basic personality types with one being dominant.

         6 different types of work environments parallel the personality types

         If we understand both personalities and work environments then we can

help people find jobs/life that are very fulfilling

         Understanding self-knowledge crucial, be insightful about ourselves

What are we good at, not good at, interests and competency

         Understanding that interests doesn’t necessarily mean you are

competent at it.

Other resources to help understand Holland's Theory

Link to self-directed search:

Diane Sawyer takes the Self-Directed Search

6 Personality Types  (RIASEC)


                  Working with things more important than working with people

                  Concrete thinkers

                  Work with hands – physical


                  Could be in more dangerous work environments


                  Search for solutions/outcomes to problems


                  Abstract thinking

                  Social skills not as important

                  Works independently


                  Creative and expressive

                  Open and personally more vulnerable

                  “tools” are used to express oneself rather than an end result

                  Want contact with people and can work very independently


                  People oriented

                  Interested in ‘helping’ people / jobs are service to other people

                  Enjoy solving problems through interaction

                  Not interested in working with machines/tools


                  People oriented

                  Interested in influencing people more than helping people

                  Acquisition of wealth important

                  May appear as self-confident especially when influencing


                  Typically more conservative in work environment

                  Interested in organizing and planning

                  Involved in support positions / jobs

                  Values money and dependability

                  Following rules important

Concepts in Holland’s Theories

Personality Types and Work Environments fall in the same categories

                  The relationship of the personality to the work environment

                  Personality Realistic then look at jobs in Realistic category

Major role of career counseling!


                  Most people have 2-3 dominant types

                  Differentiated individuals have clear interests and clustering

         Undifferentiated are people that have interests that fall

across many of the ‘types’ and are not ‘clear’

With undifferentiated typology – may find it more difficult to

find an environment to fit one’s needs

With differentiated in an undifferentiated environment, might

be frustration with things required that don’t interest one.                 

                         When talking to individual, we might discuss how a work

environment meets their needs, or doesn’t and what might be frustrating or not.  Our work may not be the only place that we get our needs met.


Differentiated environment – Assembly line, do same thing day after day

Undifferentiated environment – University work as a professor – can teach (social); do consulting (enterprising); and research (investigative)


Letters closer to each other seem to fit better in jobs

and personality

                  Letters farther away, not as consistent in job descriptions


                  What kind of goals do they have for their career

                           How are they going to reach them

                  Refers to the clarity and stability of a person’s

current and future goals

                  Also refers to the stability of the work environment

                  “Does the client have a clear notion of her/his career desires

and a plan to reach them?” – this measures identity.

Practical Applications

         Vocational Preference Inventory

         My Vocation Situation

         Vocational Identity

         Position Classification Inventory

         Career Attitudes and Strategies Inventory

         Self–Directed Search

                  Dictionary of Holland’s Occupational Codes

                  Dictionary of Occupational Codes

Self-Directed Search and Strong Interest Inventory

         Personality and Work Environment assessments both based on

Holland’s 6 personality types and work environments

No comments:

Post a Comment