The Relationship between Vocational Interests and Intelligence: Do Findings Generalize across Different Assessment Methods?

Article excerpt


The aim of this study was to further explore the relationship between vocational interests and intelligence. There is some evidence in literature on the stable relationships between vocational interests and intelligence (cf. Ackerman & Heggestad, 1997). It should be noted that the majority of the previous studies have only used questionnaires for the assessment of vocational interests. Thus, it is of interest whether the results are also stable when different assessment methods are used. Therefore, a nonverbal test was used in this study together with two questionnaires. Additionally, tests for general intelligence, verbal, numeric, and spatial ability, and memory were used. A sample of N = 138 persons was tested in a computerized setting. Results indicate that there is a positive relation between Realistic and Investigative interests and spatial ability. This result was found for both the questionnaires as well as the nonverbal test. Therefore, it can be assumed that this relation is stable for different assessment methods. The data is discussed with respect to current literature.

Key words: vocational interests; assessment of vocational interests; intelligence; RIASEC

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between vocational interests (cf. Savickas & Spokane, 1999) and intelligence. This is an important research topic because the results are of special interest for many fields of applied psychology. Within Holland's theory (1997) vocational interests are interpreted as an expression of personality. Accordingly, Holland suggests that interest inventories can be interpreted as personality inventories. Interest inventories are also treated in this way in career counseling (e. g., Holland, 1999; Savickas, 1995). The relationship between intelligence, personality, and interests is discussed extensively in Ackerman and Heggestad (1997), and the relationship between Holland's theory and personality is summarized in Hogan and Blake (1999). Both personality and intelligence are used as predictors for school performance (e. g., Rindermann & Neubauer, 2001), academic performance (e. g., Lounsbury, Loveland, Sundstrom, Gibson, Drost, & Hamrick, 2003), job performance (e. g., Barrick, Mount, & Judge, 2001), and career and job satisfaction (e. g., Lounsbury, Gibson, Steel, Sundstrom, & Loveland, 2004). Understanding the relation between all of the constructs may be useful for improving the predictive validity of the measures. For example Fritzsche, Mclntire, and Yost (2002) suggested that interests could be seen as moderators in the prediction of the personalityperformance relationship. In the case of vocational interests, the relationship to intelligence is of particular importance for career counseling. Helping the client to choose an appropriate vocation or education can be best achieved by combining information from different sources. In this process performance and personality variables play a significant role in helping the career counselor assist the client with his/her career decisions (cf. Carless, 1999; Gottfredson, 2003; Rayman & Atanasoff, 1999).

The theory of vocational interests by J. L. Holland (1997). Holland's theory of vocational interests (1997) is widely used in practice and in scientific work. Within this theoretical framework vocational interests are defined as an expression of personality. Holland describes Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C) interests (RIASEC). Each of these interest types is characterized by certain preferences for vocational activities. The following description of the types is according to Holland (1997, p. 21). A Realistic person prefers activities that entail the explicit, ordered, or systematic manipulation of objects, tools, machines, and animals (e. g., electrician or mechanic). The Investigative type is characterized best by a preference for activities that entail the observational, symbolic, systematic, and creative investigation of physical, biological, and cultural phenomena (e. …


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