Relational personality theory and Holland's typology among women: an exploratory investigation.
Great strides have been made in decreasing sex bias in career instruments by eliminating sexist language, using sex-balancing on items, and changing use or interpretation of norms (Betz, 1992). In addition, there has been an increased societal awareness on improving opportunities in a broader range of careers for women. The work environment looks very different for women today than it did 30 years ago prior to the women's movement. Many women enter "nontraditional" careers that were formerly only available to men, and, in general, it appears that society in the United States views most careers as open to women today. However, careers within the Social domain, which primarily represent the education and helping professions, tend to be dominated by women. Furthermore, despite changes in career instruments and career counseling practices, women are still likely to have high Social scores on interest inventories (Walsh & Betz, 2001) and to choose Social majors (Trusty, Ng, & Ray, 2000).
There has been a great deal of attention in the career literature on addressing women's career needs and creating appropriate assessments. However, the Holland typology itself has generally been considered an accurate reflection of the world of work, although the theory was developed during a time when more rigid gender roles predominated. Holland, Powell, and Fritzsche (1994a) conceded that the typology cannot account for all aspects related to career. Are there underlying factors within the conceptualization of the typology that may contribute to gender disparities? One aspect that appears to be missing from the Holland typology is a collaborative personality or work environment. Although Holland's types are fairly complex in their conceptualization, in their orientation to working with people, Enterprising types generally supervise or manage others, and Conventional types support others. The Social type is most closely associated with working with people and is primarily oriented to helping others. The Investigative, Realistic, and Artistic types are generally described without a people focus. This people/things dimension and the hierarchical nature of relationships may not adequately reflect several important aspects of women's career interests.
Relational models of women's development have been proposed that focus on the centrality of relationships to women's identities and values. Developers of relational models of women's growth and development of personality propose that women's identity and values differ from men's (Enns, 1991; Gilligan, 1982; Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Surrey, 1991; Jordan, Walker, & Hartling, 2004). These theorists emphasize that women's identity and values are centered on relationships and the connected self (Enns, 1991; Gilligan, 1982; Jordan et al., 1991) and that these values and bases for identity should be accepted and valued as much as men's orientation to the separate self. Pearson et al. (1998) defined the ideas stressed in relational personality theory as two distinct constructs that describe orientation to separateness and connection. The connected self describes someone to whom "interdependency, connection with others, egalitarian interchange, and concern for individuals (including themselves) in their own contexts are central" (p. 30). The separate self describes someone "for whom independence, separation, hierarchical organization of interchange, and justice are central" (p. 30). Whether these orientations are viewed as essentialist or socially constructed is irrelevant to valuing both perspectives as they are expressed in individual personalities.
Could women's tendency to score high in Social interests be influenced by a relationally focused identity because the scale is the best representation available for a relationally oriented career? Could some of the women whose highest interest is in Social careers desire environments in which a people orientation is primary but prefer an environment that is more oriented toward working with people in collaborative relationships rather than in helping roles? In the current study, we hypothesize that relational identity is related to career interests for women as reflected in Holland's typology, particularly on the Social scale. We further hypothesize that some women who possess relatively high Social interests will indicate more interest in collaborative work than in traditional helping roles.
Holland Typology and Gender
Although Holland's theory has gained widespread acceptance and use in career counseling, it may be limited in its scope of coverage of the person-environment fit. The theory was developed in conjunction with the development of assessments designed to assess its constructs, and the two appear to have become inextricably intertwined. The assessments were designed to tap the personality of individuals, which is assumed by Walsh and Holland (1992) to correspond to environments. People's environments are a reflection of the personalities of the people in those environments. Holland demonstrated construct validity for his types using correlations with other personality constructs and with peoples' values, cognitive styles, aptitudes, and competencies (Holland et al., 1994a). However, he identified as a major weakness of the typology that "many important personal and environmental contingencies lie outside the scope of the typology" (Holland et al., 1994a, p. 2). One of these contingencies may be related to a lack of theories of women's personality and development available during the conceptualization of the typology. Although a comprehensive discussion of gender and personality is beyond the scope of the current discussion, gender research over the past several decades has demonstrated that theories developed with men as the norm and applied to women may not be appropriate or helpful. It is clear that instruments that measure career interests using the Holland typology have been revised in attempts to reduce gender bias (Fouad, 1999); however, it appears that gender has been viewed more as a measurement and socialization issue (e.g., women are socialized to have Social interests) than as a more central component of Holland's typology.
More than 50% of college women who participated in the 1994 norming of the Self-Directed Search (SDS; Holland, Powell, & Fritzsche, 1994b) scored highest on the Social scale, whereas only 25.8% of college men scored highest on the Social scale. An examination of students' two highest Holland codes indicates that 74.8% of the college women had Social in their 2-point code, whereas only 49.1% of the college men had Social in their 2-point code. Holland et al. (1994a) suggested that the appropriate way to use the SDS is to look at careers listed for all possible permutations of the three scales on which an individual scores highest. Although this reduces sex differences (88% of the college women and 72% of the college men had Social in their 3-point code), women are still more likely to have a greater influence of the Social scale on the interests identified by the SDS. There are moderate correlations between the same scales on the major instruments (e.g., the Strong Interest Inventory [Harmon, Hansen, Borgen, & Hammer, 1994], the Vocational Preference Inventory [Holland, 1985], and the Unisex Edition of the ACT Interest Inventory-Revised [UNIACT-R; Swaney, 1995]) based on Holland's typology (Swaney, 1995). The SDS generally has the most difficulties with the possibility of sex bias because of the use of raw scores and stereotypic items, whereas the UNIACT-R and other instruments are considered better in reducing bias through the use of sex-balanced items (Betz, 1992). Holland et al. (1994b) addressed the sex bias criticism of the SDS by stating, "These code differences epitomize how the American culture has shaped the average male and female. As these cultural expectations and forces change, the differences in the distributions of codes for males and females should diminish" (p. 55).
Holland et al.'s (1994a) explanation for the high percentage of women scoring highest on the Social scale was that women have characteristics that led them to these interests; therefore, women with these characteristics will have the greatest person-environment fit in these careers. Although this may seem somewhat reasonable based on Holland's theory of personalities and work environments, it is nevertheless circular reasoning. Holland et al. (1994a) argued that scores are a reflection of the work environment and will change if the work environment changes. How is the environment to change if the personalities of the people in it remain the same? If the typology is a fixed set of corresponding environments and personalities, then there is no allowance for change. Others have also stated that when both genders have opportunities to gain experiences that expand their interests, more women and men will become interested in nontraditional careers (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987; Walsh & Betz, 2001).
Betz (1992) further suggested that instruments with same-sex norms and/or sex-balanced inventory scales can be used to minimize stereotypic socialization. It is important to remember that the ideal is for individuals to have equal opportunities to develop interests and choices, including traditional interests. However, it may be that the current conceptualization within Holland's typology, which is based on a world of work originally dominated by men and traditional gender roles, is missing a strong relational component in its description and measurement, resulting in the fact that a greater relational orientation of many women (and nontraditional men) is only available in the Social type.
If women's career interests are influenced by an orientation to relationship, it may be possible to meet these relational needs in virtually any career environment if career assessments and accompanying career counseling help women to see how this can be accomplished. By describing the relationship between relational orientation and career interest, it may be possible to help women expand their career options without compromising their value of relationship. If counselors fail to identify and respect underlying sources for women's interest in Social careers in addition to dealing with measurement and opportunity issues, career theories such as Holland's will continue to encourage women to choose traditional careers, and the career counseling process will tend to maintain the status quo.
Relational Personality Theory of Women's Career Development
Several theorists and researchers have applied relational personality theory to the study of career-related interests and decisions (Crozier, 1999; Fletcher, 1996, 2004; Forrest & Mikolaitis, 1986; McGowen & Hart, 1992). In addition, it has become more widely recognized that people do not make career decisions in a vacuum but that personal relationships with others heavily influence a variety of aspects of career choice and development (Flum, 2001). Cook, Heppner, and O'Brien (2002) called for an ecological perspective of career counseling designed to be inclusive of the needs of women of color and White women. Their model views the individual in context, not only in interpersonal relationships but also within the wider society. Blustein, Schultheiss, and Flum (2004) and Schultheiss (2003) encouraged a social constructionist and relational approach to career counseling that moves beyond prior individualistic models to incorporate the importance of interdependence and relationships in individuals' approaches to career. In addition to this attention to how relationships with others influence career decisions, relational personality theories may explain the effect of socialization on gender differences in career interests, especially as measured by traditional instruments (e.g., the SDS). This is a perspective that encourages respect for women's experiences and interests (traditional and nontraditional), while helping them expand their career options within their value framework.
Purpose of the Study
The present study was designed to determine whether relational personality constructs were related to Holland's typology as reflected in scores on the SDS. It was hypothesized that orientation to relationship underlies the sex differences in Holland typology, specifically the tendency for women to score highest on the Social scale. Although there is a great deal of research on the career psychology of women and although other researchers have indirectly applied relational personality theory to the study of career, this study sought to directly measure the constructs of connected self and separate self and explore the relationship to career interests. The primary research question was, What is the nature of the relationship between Holland types and relational identity types?
A secondary purpose of the present study was to determine whether individuals with high Social interests vary in the type of relationships on the job in which they are interested. It was hypothesized that some of the women may be demonstrating Social interests because of a general relational orientation and that they may not be primarily interested in helping types of careers. Specifically, if Social interests are found to be related to a connected self identity, then this portion of the study sought to identify individuals who scored highest on the Social scale who may be more interested in types of relationships on the job that are not necessarily helping roles. The secondary research question was, Are there differences among women who are primarily Social types in their relational preferences in work settings, specifically working with peers (collaborating) versus working with clients (helping)?
Participants were 123 college women ranging in age from 18 to 46 years, with 89% of the participants 24 years of age or younger. Approximately 48% were freshmen, 27% were sophomores, 15% were juniors, 7% were seniors, and 3% were graduate students or individuals enrolled in a single class for professional development. One hundred fourteen of the participants were Caucasian, 2 were African American, 6 were biracial, and 1 was Chicano(a)/Hispanic/Latino(a).
Participants were offered extra credit in class to participate in the research and were members of human development, introductory business, introductory computer, and introductory and advanced psychology courses. Participants attended one of two universities, with 99 attending a public midsize midwestern university and 24 attending a small Catholic university in the Northwest. Participants were recruited from a variety of courses in order to both increase the diversity of college majors and career interests so as to have broad representation for the first research question and ensure an adequate sample of Social types for the second research question. The women represented 26 different college majors.
SDS. The SDS is a 228-item self-report measure that contains four sections (activities, competencies, occupations, and self-estimates) that are used to obtain raw scores on six primary scales: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Each section is divided into six sections corresponding to the six scales, with scores from each of the four sections used to obtain a total score on each scale.
Summary scores are determined by adding the totals for each of the codes from the four sections to obtain six total code scores. A 3-point high code is determined using the highest three raw scores. This high-point code is used to determine corresponding work environments based on Holland's typology. However, most research conducted using the SDS, including validity research cited in the technical manual, uses the high-point code or each type (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) as a separate variable (Holland et al., 1994b). Consistent with previous research, participants with tied scores between the two highest point codes in the current study were not used (Chung & Harmon, 1994; Strack, 1994), and continuous scores were used in analyses of the data (Dumenci, 1995; Holland, Johnston, Hughes, & Asama, 1991; Schinka, Dye, & Curtiss, 1997; Strack, 1994). The SDS protocols were scored by the first author to minimize scoring errors.
Relationship Self Inventory (RSI; Pearson et al., 1998). The RSI provides a quantitative method specifically designed to measure relational personality constructs. In their review of the literature, Pearson et al. cited previous research in relational personality theory that was primarily qualitative or used measures of constructs thought to reflect aspects of relational personality theory, such as empathy, affiliation, and others. The work of Pearson et al. provided support for the constructs of separate self and connected self as outlined by Gilligan (1982) and Jordan et al. (1991).
The RSI is a self-report measure consisting of 60 items rated on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all like me) to 5 (very much like me). The RSI contains four scales: Connected Self (12 items), Separate Self (18 items), Primacy of Other Care (14 items), and Self and Other Care (16 items). The final score on each scale consists of the mean rating of the items on that scale. Two of the scales were used for the current study: Connected Self and Separate Self. The Connected Self scale measures an orientation to identity that is maintained by someone for whom interdependency, connection with others, egalitarian interchange, and concern for individuals, including themselves, is primary. Sample items are "Relationships are a central part of my identity" and "I like to see myself as interconnected with a network of friends." The Separate Self scale measures an orientation to identity that is maintained by someone for whom independence, separation, hierarchical organization of interchange, and justice are central. Sample items are "I cannot choose to help someone else if it will hinder my self-development" and "What it all boils down to is that the only person I can rely on is myself."
An earlier 97-item version of the RSI was administered to four different samples ranging in age from 16 to 78 years. A total of 1,145 persons (927 women, 218 men) were administered the RSI, and 604 (465 women, 139 men) of those participants also completed additional measures used to demonstrate construct validity. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted separately for men and women and resulted in the final 60-item version of the RSI (Pearson et al., 1998). According to Pearson et al., reliability analysis of the final version of the RSI using Cronbach's alpha yielded the following: .85 (men) and .77 (women) for the Separate Self scale and .76 (men and women) for the Connected Self scale. Intercorrelation analyses indicated relatively low and negative correlations between the Separate Self and Connected Self scales for both women (-.23) and men (-.33). There were moderate positive correlations between the Connected Self scale and both the Primacy of Other Care scale and the Self and Other Care scale (for women, .55 and .52, respectively; for men, .19 and .58, respectively). There was a significant correlation between the Connected Self and Primacy of Other Care scales for men (r = .73).
Convergent and divergent construct validity was demonstrated using 12 constructs measured by six different instruments. These constructs were anger, fear, sociability, nurturance, autonomy, achievement, agency, communion, self-esteem, depression, assertion of autonomy, and emotional reliance. In general, constructs were correlated with the RSI scales as was expected based on relational personality theory (Pearson et al., 1998).
Important Components of a Career Scales (ICC; Galbraith, 1987, 1992). The ICC was designed to measure six dimensions of work, specifically the comparative importance of relationship and nonrelationship factors. The instrument contains 44 self-report items that are rated on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important). The items are divided into six subscales: Power, Money, Prestige, Relationships With Peers, Relationships With Clients, and Relationships in General. The final score on each subscale consists of the mean of the items on that subscale.
In the present study, only two of the relationship subscales (Relationships With Peers and Relationships With Clients) were used to specifically address the second research question. The Relationships With Peers subscale is designed to measure how respondents rate the importance of relationships with coworkers and includes items such as "Being a source of emotional support for peers," "Expressing sensitivity to needs of coworkers," and "Mutual planning of work strategies with people you work with." The Relationships With Clients subscale was designed to measure how respondents rate the importance of relationships with clients and includes items such as "Sensitive to clientele's needs," "Giving emotional support to the clientele you serve," and "Helping clientele solve problems."
A pilot study was conducted to develop the ICC (Galbraith, 1987). Fifty-seven participants completed the original measure, which contained 57 items. On the basis of item analysis of this sample, 13 items were dropped from the measure. The revised version of the ICC was administered to 387 participants (236 men, 151 women). Reliability analysis yielded Cronbach's alpha coefficients of .77 (Relationships With Peers) and .85 (Relationships With Clients). Factor analysis using a varimax-rotated factor matrix indicated that the six subscales measured two distinctly different concepts: relationship and nonrelationship components (Galbraith, 1992).
Participants completed the inventories in classroom groups that ranged in size from approximately 10 to 35 participants. Detailed written instructions were read to each group of participants, and participants were encouraged to ask questions. Each packet contained an informed consent form, followed by a demographic questionnaire, and then the three instruments presented in a counterbalanced order. Packets were generally completed within 45 minutes.
The primary research question was addressed by using Pearson correlation coefficients and multiple regression analysis. Six dependent variables and two predictor variables were used. The dependent variables consisted of the six Holland types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. The two predictor variables were Connected Self and Separate Self.
The secondary research question was addressed by using descriptive statistics to categorize participants who scored highest on the Social scale of the SDS (n = 65). Participants' scores on two variables were compared: the Relationships With Peers subscale and the Relationships With Clients subscale. The design and analysis for this question was used to explore one possible mechanism for clarifying the interests of women scoring highest on the Social scale.
Means, standard deviations, and ranges for the six scales of the SDS, two scales of the RSI, and the two subscales used on the ICC and Cronbach's alphas for the RSI and the ICC are presented in Table 1. Mean raw scores with a possible range of 0 to 50 are reported for the SDS scales. As a group, the participants scored highest on the Social scale and lowest on the Realistic scale, which is consistent with the mean scores for women on the 1994 standardization sample of the SDS (Holland et al., 1994b). The tendency for women to score higher on the Social scale is the basis for the first research question, which sought to determine whether relational identity might be a component underlying this score difference.
Mean scores on the RSI and the ICC are based on Likert-type items with a possible range of 0 to 5. On the RSI, the participants as a group scored higher on the Connected Self scale than on the Separate Self scale. On the ICC, the group scored higher on the Relationships With Clients subscale than on the Relationships With Peers subscale. Reliability analysis of the RSI and the ICC using Cronbach's alpha yielded results that are similar to that of the standardization samples.
Primary Research Question
Separate stepwise multiple regression analyses for each scale of the SDS were calculated with Separate Self and Connected Self as predictor variables and the primary SDS score as the criterion. As shown in Table 2, the results demonstrated that in each case, only one variable made a significant contribution to the equation. For each of the analyses, although both Separate Self and Connected Selfwere used as predictors, only one of these variables accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in the criterion (i.e., contributed significantly to the overall [R.sup.2]). For the Social and Artistic scales, the only significant predictor was Connected Self, whereas for the Enterprising and Conventional scales, the only significant predictor was Separate Self. There were no significant predictors for the Investigative and Realistic scales.
The strongest relationship occurred between the Social scale and Connected Self, F(1, 121) = 29.24, p < .01, with Connected Self accounting for 20% (R = .44, [R.sup.2] = .20, p < .001) of the variance. Connected Self was also a significant predictor for the Artistic scale, F(1, 121) = 6.58, p < .012.; however, it accounted for only 5% (R = .23, [R.sup.2] = .05, p < .05) of the variance. Separate Self was a significant predictor for the Enterprising, F(1, 121) = 13.34, p < .001, and Conventional, F(1, 121) = 8.62, p < .01, scales. Separate Self accounted for 10% (R = .32, [R.sup.2] = .10, p < .001) of the variance on the Enterprising scale and 7% (R = .26, [R.sub.2] = .07, p < .01) of the variance on the Conventional scale. There was no relationship between the Investigative and Realistic scales and either Connected Self or Separate Self.
Secondary Research Question
Participants who scored highest on the Social scale (n = 65) generally possessed scores indicating their connected self relational orientation. As a whole, the group scored higher on the Relationships With Clients subscale (M = 4.44, SD = 0.47) than on the Relationships With Peers subscale (M = 4.24, SD = 0.36), t(64) = 3.625, p < .001 (paired samples), indicating a moderate effect size (d = .45). On the basis of raw scores, 41 of the 65 women indicated a greater interest in client relationships, whereas 20 indicated a greater interest in peer relationships; 4 participants' scores on these two ICC subscales were tied. However, only 4 participants more interested in peer relationships had a score difference of more than one standard deviation, and 17 participants more interested in client relationships had a score difference of more than one standard deviation. The remaining participants (n = 44) had score differences that were less than one standard deviation and represented tied scores.
Overall, results indicate that many of the participants were most interested in client relationships, as would be expected in the Holland typology. However, some of the participants were at least equally interested in peer and client relationships, with a minority demonstrating more interest in peer relationships. Given the large number of tied responses, it is likely that the ICC was not sensitive enough to clarify these interests further. As an exploratory investigation, this study demonstrates that there is some evidence that indicates further research may be helpful.
The primary purpose of the present study was to determine whether a relational identity may be an underlying factor within the conceptualization of the Holland typology that may contribute to gender disparities, especially as measured by the SDS. Specifically, it was expected that women's Social interests would be related to the concept of the connected self. This hypothesis was supported through an individual stepwise regression analysis with Connected Self and Separate Self as predictor variables. Connected Self may be considered an underlying factor that accounts for a small portion of the variance in women's scores on the Social scale of the SDS.
Holland attributed gender differences to the nature in which American culture has shaped girls and boys (Holland et al., 1994b). The construct of connected self provides a partial explanation for this difference. Development of connected self or separate self orientations is hypothesized to result from gender role socialization (Enns, 1991). Connected self is an orientation to interdependency, connection with others, egalitarianism, and concern for self and others (Pearson et al., 1998). Individuals with a connected self identity are more likely than those with a separate self identity to place a high value on the relational aspects of life. One aspect of this self-identity may involve acting in a helping role toward others, but it is more primarily oriented to interdependence and egalitarianism rather than to dependence/ independence and hierarchy. Therefore, the second portion of the current study explored the possibility that those participants who scored highest on the Social scale and held a connected self identity would hold varying interests in peer versus client relationships on the job.
In general, a few of the participants indicated a greater interest in peer relationships, whereas most scores on the Relationships With Peers and Relationships With Clients subscales indicated an equal interest in peer relationships and client relationships. However, results of this portion of the study should be considered only a preliminary exploration with further research needed. In addition, the current study has a number of limitations. Further study with a more diverse sample that includes ethnic minorities and men and that explores other instruments that use the Holland typology would be helpful. In addition, although significant results were obtained, they still accounted for only a relatively small portion of the variance, which leaves a number of environmental and measurement issues that could also be related to or influencing agents of Social interests.
For career counselors, these results indicate that it may be helpful to explore further with women and nontraditional men with Social interests what specific types of relationships they are seeking in employment settings. The distinction between working with peers in a collaborative environment versus working in a helping role may assist in expanding women's career considerations for those who do highly value relationships. Although many women may want to be in helping roles, if peer relationships are equally or more important to them, then these relational needs can be met in virtually any career--not just in traditional Social environments. Furthermore, if an individual is more interested in collaborative peer relationships than in acting in a helping role, then many traditionally Social environments may, in fact, represent a poor fit after all.
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Amy M. Rees and Carol Doyle, Department of Counseling Psychology, Lewis and Clark College; Darrell Anthony Luzzo, JA Worldwide, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Betty E. Gridley, Department of Educational Psychology, Ball State University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy M. Rees, Department of Counseling Psychology, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
TABLE 1 Means, Standard Deviations, Ranges, and Cronbach's Alphas for Variables Used in the Present Study (N = 123) Cronbach's Variable M SD Range [alpha] Self-Directed Search Realistic 13.86 7.77 2-36 Investigative 20.88 9.28 3-46 Artistic 22.68 10.46 2-47 Social 35.11 9.00 10-50 Enterprising 27.10 9.90 4-47 Conventional 23.51 12.63 3-50 Relationship Self Inventory Connected Self 4.23 0.44 2.83-5.00 .76 Separate Self 2.55 0.56 1.44-4.06 .85 Important Components of a Career Scales Relationship With Clients 4.29 0.58 2.67-5.00 .85 Relationship With Peers 4.15 0.44 2.75-5.00 .74 TABLE 2 Individual Stepwise Multiple Regression Analyses for Self- Directed Search Scales With Connected Self and Separate Self as Predictors (N = 123) Dependent Variable Increase F for and Step Variable Entered R [R.sup.2] in [R.sup.2] Increase Social Step 1 Connected Self .44 .20 .20 29.24*** Step 2 ns Artistic Step 1 Connected Self .23 .05 .05 6.58* Step 2 ns Enterprising Step 1 Separate Self .32 .10 .10 13.34*** Step 2 ns Conventional Step 1 Separate Self .26 .07 .07 8.62** Step 2 ns Note. Results indicate no more than one significant variable; therefore, beta weights are not reported. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
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|Publication:||Career Development Quarterly|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2007|
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