Convergence of Conventional and Behavior-Based Measures: Towards a Multimethod Approach in the Assessment of Vocational Interests

Article excerpt

Abstract

The main aim of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of different techniques for the assessment of vocational interests. In an empirical study (n = 264) a questionnaire, a nonverbal test, several objective personality tests, and a semi-projective test were applied in one single session in a computerized setting. All tests enable the assessment of vocational interests with regard to the theory of vocational interests by Holland (1997). Results showed that highest correlations to a Holland-type questionnaire were found for the questionnaire and the nonverbal test. In general, the objective personality tests were less homogenous and showed lower correlations to questionnaires. Nevertheless, all different measures showed potential for the assessment of vocational interests. Improvements in the test material and scoring methods of the newly constructed tests are discussed and a model for the combined use of different assessment methods is presented. Future research directions and a discussion on the role of a multimethod assessment strategy in practice are given.

Key words: vocational interests; RIASEC; objective personality tests; assessment of vocational interests

Information on the structure of vocational interests of a client is an important part of the career counseling process. For the assessment of vocational interests questionnaires are widely used bom in practice and in research (cf. Savickas & Spokane, 1999). Based on me interest structure, possible career choices or further directions in the counseling process can be discussed. Although a lot of different techniques are available in the field of psychological assessment in general (e. g., projective, semi-projective, nonverbal, or objective personality tests in the sense of R. B. Cattell) almost exclusively questionnaires are used in career counseling.

Despite the fact that the technique of "asking" the testee through a questionnaire is often (almost exclusively) used and that the validity of interest questionnaires is widely demonstrated (e. g., Fouad, 1999; Hansen & Dik, 2004), me technique can be criticized nevertheless. Results obtained by questionnaires might be biased because of response sets, social desirable answers, or other answer distortions (cf. Deller, Ones, Viswesvaran, & Dilchert, 2006; Kubinger, 2002; Viswesvaran & Ones, 1999). In the case of vocational interest the different prestige of occupations (Spoerrle & Rudolph, 2000) or internalized traditional career choices (cf. Turner & Lapan, 2005) might be an additional source of answer distortions. Furthermore, it can be assumed that even if the testee is willing to answer honestly in a questionnaire, it is not clear whether s/he is able to do so. The verbal ability of the testee might be too low, the questionnaire might show poor psychometric properties, or the whole test situation might be difficult for me testee (because of family or peer interactions for example). Other reasons for a biased answer might be wrong apperceptions or ideas about different vocational activities. In fact, lacking experience with a specific activity might lead to an answer in a questionnaire that might be biased by fantasies or wrong ideas about the activity. It has to be mentioned, however, that me general usefulness of questionnaires in research on vocational interests and in practice (in the career counseling process) is not doubted. Furthermore, it has to be mentioned that even if questionnaires can be faked that does not mean that subjects are faking them in all of the cases. Additionally, me consequences for the predictive validity of these faked answers are discussed controversially in the literature (cf. Kubinger, 2002; Viswesvaran & Ones, 1999).

However, information obtained by questionnaires might be biased by different factors. Therefore, the use of additional assessment techniques might be useful to facilitate the work of career counselors and meoretical studies on vocational interests. …