Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Ten-Year Stability of Holland Codes within One Family

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Ten-Year Stability of Holland Codes within One Family

Article excerpt

This article reports a qualitative study of the incidence of Holland codes in three generations of one family over a 10-year time span. The stability of codes was very high whether or not the codes were consistent. Compatibility indexes between family members and significant others were wide-ranging. The gradual changes in Holland codes over three generations seem to reflect the movement of this family from a rural, farm background to suburban settings.

A popular theory for explaining vocational behavior is that of Holland (1992). The theory suggests that individuals can be categorized as a combination of six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. One reason for the popularity of the theory is that there are many ways of measuring an individual's personality type such as through instruments designed by Holland (including the Vocational Preference Inventory [Holland, 1975] and the Self-Directed Search [Holland, 1985]) or through other inventories such as the Strong Interest Inventory (Harmon, Hansen, Borgen, & Hammer, 1994). Other ways of determining Holland type are through a college major, an occupational fantasy, or a current job. Holland has encouraged the examination of his theoretical constructs, including the stability of interests, and thousands of studies have done so over the years. Many investigations have supported a variety of his theoretical constructs, whereas other studies have not (e.g., Anderson, 1995; Boyd & Cramer, 1995; Celeste, Walsh, & Raote, 1995; Holland,1992; Subich,1994; Walsh & Srsic,1995). The stability of vocational interests has been well documented. Early research conducted by Strong (1931, 1935) argued for the "permanence" of interests and the findings were congruent with the belief that most personality traits were relatively stable.

Vocational interests as measured by Holland types have also been reported stable by many researchers over the years. Blum, Karweit, and Sorensen (1969) determined that a majority of a national sample of men, aged 30 to 39, worked in the same Holland classification rather than wandering from class to class over a 5- and 10-year period. In a follow-up study of college students 10 to 35 years later, Lucy (1976) reported substantial stability in Holland type"in spite of changing social and economic conditions" (p. 78). Swanson and Hansen (1988) reported a "remarkable degree of interest stability" (p. 199) of individuals tested initially in college and then at 4year, 8-year, and 12-year intervals. Median stability coefficients were .81, .83, and .72 for the three intervals. In studying Holland's Investigative personality types, O'Neil, Magoon, and Tracey (1978) reported that the SDS had "moderately high efficiency" (p. 530) in predicting actual job entry and career plans 7 years later. In a recent study examining the stability of vocational interests among the intellectually gifted over a 15-year period, Lubinski, Benbow, and Ryan (1995) concluded that assessing vocational interests at age 13 "can indeed provide a glimpse of their eventual adult vocational interest pattern" (p. 199).

The evidence for stability of vocational interests within groups is strong. However, the variability of interests within individuals cannot be ignored, and this variability may be more important to counseling practitioners than to theoreticians. Although extremely stable within a group, Slaney (1984) reported that some women demonstrated major changes in interests over 2 years. Hansen and Swanson (1983) and Swanson and Hansen (1988) reported changes in individuals' interest patterns. At 4-year, 8-year, and 12-year intervals, low stability coefficients were .23,-.11, and .25 respectively. In short, interest changes occurring intraindividually should not be obscured by the data on stability of interests.

This study also examined the stability of Holland codes. In previous longitudinal studies, however, cohorts have been primarily college students and graduates of approximately the same age. …

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