Examining Holland's Person-Environment Fit, Workplace Aggression, Interpersonal Conflict, and Job Satisfaction

By Pseekos, A. Chantelle; Bullock-Yowell, Emily et al. | Journal of Employment Counseling, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Examining Holland's Person-Environment Fit, Workplace Aggression, Interpersonal Conflict, and Job Satisfaction


Pseekos, A. Chantelle, Bullock-Yowell, Emily, Dahlen, Eric R., Journal of Employment Counseling


The researchers examined the impact of person-environment (P-E) fit, as defined by Holland's (1997) theory, on interpersonal conflict at work (ICAW) and workplace aggression. In addition, previous relationships found in the job satisfaction literature were examined in the present sample of 244 United States employees. Internet-based surveys were completed by 244 participants in the current research. Results of hierarchical multiple regression and correlational analyses demonstrated a negative relationship between P-E fit and ICAW. Replication of previous relationships was found between job satisfaction, P-E fit, and workplace aggression. Implications for P-E fit and workplace aggression research are discussed.

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Approximately 47 million employees working in the United States experience psychological aggression (i.e., behaviors intended to cause psychological harm) in the workplace each year (Schat, Frone, & Kelloway, 2006, p. 49), having a negative impact on their ability to function effectively in employment settings. Multiple authors note that workplace aggression has been associated with occupational difficulties (e.g., Keashly & Harvey, 2005; Schat & Kelloway, 2003). Victimized employees report somatic symptoms, headaches, disturbances in sleep patterns, reduced job satisfaction, psychological distress, feelings of fear, and increased probability of bringing a weapon into one's work environment (e.g., Budd, Arvey, & Lawless, 1996; Haines, Marchand, & Harvey, 2006; Marchand, Demers, & Durand, 2005; McDermut, Haaga, & Kirk, 2000; Rogers & Kelloway, 1997; Schat & Kelloway, 2003). Furthermore, victims of workplace aggression are at increased risk of experiencing psychological difficulties (e.g., depression and posttraumatic stress disorder), medical difficulties (i.e., high blood pressure, coronary heart disease), and suicide (Kivimaki et al., 2005; Leymann & Gustafsson, 1996; Lutgen-Sandvik, Tracy, & Alberts, 2006; Namie, 2003).

In the present study, the fit between employees' personalities and their work environments (i.e., person--environment [P-E] fit) and the manner in which this may inform research on workplace aggression is investigated. Within the current research, P-E fit refers to the degree to which an individual's Holland personality code type matches with the code type of one's work environment (Holland, 1997). Holland identified the six basic types of individuals and environments as Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (i.e., RIASEC). His theory emphasizes the impact that level of congruence, or the fit between one's personality type and work environment (e.g., a Realistic person working in a Realistic environment), may have on a person's behavior.

Within the current study, previous relationships found in the job satisfaction literature are also examined. Job satisfaction was investigated in relation to the two primary constructs of interest (i.e., congruence and workplace aggression) because previous relationships between these variables have generally received support in the literature (e.g., see Herschovis et al., 2007; Transberg, Slane, & Ekeberg, 1993) and replication of these relationships (i.e., positive relationship between job satisfaction and congruence; negative relationship between job satisfaction and workplace aggression) were anticipated to support the validity of other present research findings.

An additional aim is to supplement the literature on workplace aggression using Holland's (1997) theory to determine whether P-E fit is among the individual difference variables affecting workplace aggression and interpersonal conflict at work, which is a previously identified correlate of workplace aggression (Herschovis et al., 2007). A wealth of research has been conducted in support of using the construct of congruence for the assessment of P-E fit (e.g., Donohue, 2006; Kieffer, Schinka, & Curtiss, 2004; Saks & Ashforth, 1997).

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