Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Benefits of Congruence

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Benefits of Congruence

Article excerpt

Counselors and counselees strive for congruence between the counselee's vocational interests and his or her career. This idea is based on the general belief that if one's vocational interests and career are congruent, then satisfaction can be expected. The presumption that satisfaction emerges from congruence is in accord with Holland's (1973, 1985) theory that vocational satisfaction, stability, and achievements depend on the congruence between one's personality type and his or her environmental type.

Indeed, most studies that focus on employee outcomes of satisfaction, stability, and achievements have revealed their positive relation to occupational congruence, although the magnitude of the correlation coefficients yielded is small. Spokane (1985) reviewed 63 studies in which the relation between occupational congruence and satisfaction was examined. He concluded that there is a "magic .30 correlational plateau" (p. 335) between these variables. Following a meta-analysis, Assouline and Meir (1987) reported that the mean correlations between vocational congruence and satisfaction, stability, and achievements were .21, .15, and .06, respectively. In another meta-analysis, Tranberg, Slane, and Ekeberg (1993) reported a .20 mean correlation between vocational congruence and satisfaction. Appropriate breakdowns (Assouline & Meir, 1987) indicated that the correlations between vocational congruence and satisfaction can be as high as .40.

The current study examined (a) whether congruence relates to other well-being variables in addition to satisfaction, stability, and achievements, and (b) whether congruence can be interpreted beyond the limited meaning of t between one's vocational interests and occupational choice.

The theoretical basis for this study is Meir's (1989) mapping sentence "level of congruence (arrow omitted) well-being" (p. 227). This sentence means that (a) one can consider both congruence and well-being as general concepts, each composed of a large, perhaps infinite, number of aspects or variables; and (b) variables of congruence correlate with variables of well-being, and these correlations are either positive or negative, confirming the respective content of the chosen variables. Thus, congruence includes aspects such as vocational congruence, environmental congruence, congruence between one's avocational preferences and leisure activities, congruence between one's religious beliefs and the dominant values in one's environment, and so on. Similarly, well-being includes various expressions of job and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, stability, stress symptoms, and so on. Hence, in any given study on congruence, the congruence aspects, well-being measures and participants examined should all be conceived as random or arbitrarily chosen samples from the respective populations of aspects, measures, and participants. It might be argued that the combination of several congruence aspects will affect each well-being measure more than each congruence aspect alone.

Two earlier studies (Meir & Melamed, 1986; Meir, Melamed, & Abu-Freha, 1990) reported a positive relation between three aspects of congruence on the one hand (vocational congruence, avocational (leisure) congruence, and skill utilization congruence), and occupational satisfaction, work satisfaction, job satisfaction, and self-esteem on the other hand, along with a negative relation between these congruence aspects and anxiety, burnout, and somatic complaints. In the current study, the congruence/well-being relation was examined for participants employed as lawyers, psychologists, and physicians to test the generalizability of the earlier studies that investigated teachers.

Our hypotheses were the following:

1. Each of the congruence aspects (vocational congruence, leisure congruence, and skill utilization congruence) would correlate positively with occupational choice satisfaction, work satisfaction, and self-esteem and would correlate negatively with anxiety, burnout, and somatic complaints. …

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