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The relevancy of Holland's theory to a nonprofessional occupation.

The authors examined job satisfaction and workers' perceptions of a nonprofessional occupation using the Position Classification Inventory (PCI; G. D. Gottfredson & J. L. Holland, 1991). Results revealed high job satisfaction scores and suggest that the PCI shows promise as a method of classifying working-class occupations according to J. L. Holland's (1985, 1997) theory.


Perhaps the most widely accepted method for describing occupations is Holland's (1985, 1997) theory of people and occupational environments. Holland's theory can be perceived as a direct attempt to organize and systematize the knowledge of self and, secondarily, as the matching of that self with occupational environments (Slaney, Hall, & Bieschke, 1993). Both occupational environments and personalities are grouped into six major categories: Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C).

In Holland's typology, both personality and environments are expressed in three-letter codes. Selecting the three types that most closely characterize the person or his or her work-school environment form a three-letter code. The three-letter code provides a brief summary of what a person or environment is like by showing the degree of resemblance to three personality types or occupational groups. For example, the three-letter code of CER suggests that the person or environment has dominant Conventional aspects but also possesses the Enterprising and Realistic characteristics to a somewhat lesser degree. Extensive descriptions of the six types can be found in Holland (1985).

Holland's theory maintains (a) that persons in a vocation have similar personalities and (b) that persons tend to choose actual occupational environments consistent with their personality orientations. In addition, a primary assumption behind Holland's (1985) theory is that workers tend to be more satisfied in occupations congruent with their personalities.

It is clear that the validity of Holland's theory hinges on not only the ability to adequately describe personality types but also to accurately characterize occupational environments. Thus, the more comprehensively specific occupations are studied, the more useful the information that is collected is likely to be in meeting the need of predicting a favorable match between clients and a large number of occupations.

One publication often used to assist clients in considering occupations consistent with their personality is the Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes (DHOC; Gottfredson & Holland, 1996). The DHOC provides a way of classifying most occupations according to Holland's (1985, 1997) theory. The DHOC, however, does not provide a method of directly assessing any specific position using Holland's (1985, 1997) personality/environmental typology. The Position Classification Inventory (PCI; Gottfredson & Holland, 1991) was developed, in part, to address this particular shortcoming of the DHOC. The PCI shows promise as a method of classifying occupations according to Holland's theory (Maurer & Tarulli, 1997).

The most straightforward application of the PCI involves classifying occupations (Gottfredson & Holland, 1991). Consequently, one purpose of this study was to analyze the degree of congruence between the DHOC's classification of a specific occupation and workers' classifications of the same occupation using the PCI. It is assumed that information from this article may provide additional support for the usability and validity of the DHOC in career counseling.

Another purpose of this study was to investigate a specific prediction of Holland's (1985) theory: that workers are more satisfied in occupations in which congruency is evident. As stated, Holland's (1985) theory predicts positive correlations between congruence and satisfaction, success, and stability. These three criteria served as milestones in Spokane's (1985) review and in a later meta-analysis on congruence studies (Assouline & Meir, 1987). One of the surprising results from the meta-analysis, however, was the low mean correlation between occupational congruence and satisfaction (Assouline & Meir, 1987).

Tranberg, Slane, and Ekeberg (1993) also conducted a meta-analysis of 27 published studies and concluded that the overall mean congruence-satisfaction correlation was less than significant. In addition, of the 27 studies, only 5 (e.g., Gati & Meir, 1982) included non-college-degree occupations. There appears to be some question about the validity of the congruence-satisfaction hypothesis among professional and nonprofessional workers, although very few studies included workers in nonprofessional occupations (Upperman & Church, 1995).

Clearly, most of the research on Holland's model has involved students or workers in occupations that require a college degree (Tranberg et al., 1993). To draw broader conclusions about the validity of Holland's theory and to increase generalizability of Holland's model, working-class occupations should be used in current and future studies. The present study included a specific nonprofessional occupation: licensed fly-fishing guides.



The participants were 20 full-time fly-fishing guides (identified in a national catalog of Orvis-endorsed, licensed fly-fishing guides) from across the country. All the participants were male. The mean age of the participants was 51.65 (SD = 9.85), with ages ranging from 23 to 71. Approximately 65% of the participants had been professional guides for 10 years or more. All participants voluntarily participated in the present study.


Each participant received a large envelope that included the following materials: an informative letter; a personal data form; a copy of the PCI; a PCI answer sheet; and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Informative letters. In the informative letters, all items included in the packets were listed and general procedural instructions on completing the PCI were explicitly stated. The letter also thanked participants, in advance, for completing the requested forms.

Personal data forms. Seven self-reported pieces of information were requested on the personal data forms. Participants were instructed to rank from 1 to 7, with 7 being the greatest, several potential problems in dealing with clients. Participants were also (a) requested to check an appropriate age blank that corresponded to their own age, (b) instructed to check how many years they had been full-time professional guides, and (c) asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very dissatisfied and 10 being very satisfied, their current level of satisfaction as a professional guide.

PCI item booklets. The PCI item booklets included a total of 84 questions partitioned into seven categories. The seven categories were (a) general position requirements; (b) job-related skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that must be exercised by the individual in the job; (c) types of outlooks or perspectives demanded of a person in the position; (d) personal needs that can be met by the job; (e) jobrelevant required personal characteristics; (f) personal abilities, skill, or talents needed by the individual in the job; and (g) the frequency of the individual's engagement in certain activities in the job.


Each participant was instructed to follow the directions explicitly stated in the informative letter (i.e., to complete the personal data form; to take the PCI; to place the completed personal data form, the completed PCI answer sheet, and the PCI book in the self-addressed envelope; and to mail the envelope).



The PCI (Gottfredson & Holland, 1991) was developed to provide a valid, economical method with which to classify any position or occupation according to Holland's (1985, 1997) typology of work environments. The PCI's most important use is as an inventory for classifying positions and occupations. It is also helpful for understanding sources of dissatisfaction with a current job.

A job incumbent or a supervisor can use the 84-item PCI to describe the demands, rewards, and opportunities of an occupation's environment. Each environmental model is represented by 13 items, for a total of 78 items (6 experimental items are not scored). Typically, the inventory can be completed in 10 minutes or less. No special instruction or supervision is usually required. The user simply follows directions in the item booklet and records responses on the hand-scored answer sheet. Respondents are encouraged to mark one response for each item.

Alpha (internal consistency reliability) coefficients for the PCI range from .74 to .87, with a median of .79. The alpha coefficients for the supervisor's sample range from .71 to .91, with a median of .83. In writing the initial items and in writing new items for revisions, empirical evidence from the broad literature on the theory (Holland & Gottfredson, 1990) was attended to with special attention to occupation analysis data and the theory (Gottfredson & Holland, 1989). Thus, the PCI appears to have both face and content validity.

Initial attempts to validate the PCI indicate that it is potentially useful for researchers and counselors (Austin, 1993). Maurer and Tarulli (1997) examined the relationship between the environmental dimensions underlying Holland's theory of vocational choice and skill requirements, context characteristics, and task frequency ratings for managerial jobs. The profile of observed correlations was generally consistent with the judges' (experts') expectations based on Holland's theory, providing support for both the framework and the construct validity of the PCI. Other researchers have used the PCI to investigate how well Holland's (1985) typology can distinguish among occupational specialties (see Upperman & Church, 1995).

Job Satisfaction

This study measured satisfaction with a single question about the work environment. In their meta-analysis on the relationship between interest congruence and job satisfaction, Tranberg et al. (1993) identified a number of studies (i.e., Aranya, Barak, & Amernic, 1981; Meir & Erez, 1981; Meir, Keinan, & Segal, 1986; Peiser & Meir, 1978) that used a single item to measure satisfaction. The single item on satisfaction varied somewhat in each study: "How satisfied are you with your vocation?"; "To what extent are you satisfied with your place of work?"; and "How satisfied are you with your vocational choice?" The single item we used in this study varied only slightly from the above examples. Specifically, our item was "On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being very satisfied and 1 being very dissatisfied, how satisfied are you as a professional guide?"

Although the reliability of single-item measures is often questioned, single-item responses are considered appropriate when individuals are requested to make summary judgments about their own level of satisfaction or affect (Bretz & Judge, 1994). Furthermore, in comparing several job satisfaction scales, Scarpello and Campbell (1983) concluded that a single-item measure of overall job satisfaction may not be unreliable and, in many cases, might be the best measure of overall job satisfaction.

DHOC Classification

The job title of fishing guide was located in the DHOC (Gottfredson & Holland, 1989) and a three-letter code of RES was identified. Specifically, the job description in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT; U.S. Department of Labor, 1977) was as follows:
   Guide, Hunting and Fishing (Amuse. & Rec.), DOT 353, 161-010.
   Plans, organizes and conducts hunting and fishing trips for
   individuals and groups: Plans itinerary for hunting and
   fishing trips applying knowledge of countryside to determined
   best route and sites.   Arranges for transporting sportsman,
   equipment and supplies to hunting or fishing area using horses,
   land vehicles, motorboat, or airplane. Explains hunting and
   fishing laws to insure compliance. Instructs members of party
   in use of hunting or fishing gear. Prepares meals for members
   of party. Administers first aid to injured sportsmen. May care
   for animals. May sell or rent equipment, clothing and supplies.
   May pilot airplane or drive land and water vehicles. (p. 240)

Measuring Congruence

Camp and Chartrand (1992) recommended more sophisticated distance measures of congruence that would more completely include Holland's typology and order assumptions. Thus, one congruency index used in this study was the Iachan Index (Iachan, 1984), because it quantitatively describes the degree of congruency between any two separate three-letter codes.

The Iachan Index has an elaborate mathematical development, but its use requires only the ability to add to 28. Certain code parings are given weights. The value for an exact match (i.e., the first letters for both codes are identical) is 22. The value for a close match (the first letter of one code appears as the second letter of the other code) is 10. The value of a marginal match (the first letter of one code appears as the third letter of the other code) is 4. If no letters match between the two codes, the total is 0 (see Iachan, 1984). In theory, the higher the Iachan Index, the more satisfied a person is with his or her job.

The second congruency index chosen for this study was the Brown and Gore (1994) C (for congruency) index. This C index was also selected because it (a) is consistent with Holland's theory; (b) is more comprehensive than other indices, such as Zener and Schnuelle's (1976) index; (c) is recommended by Holland (1997); (d) has a normal distribution; (e) is easy to calculate; and (f) is sensitive to code orders.

The Brown and Gore C index is an extension of Holland's first-letter hexagonal distance measure to a three-letter code. The formula for C is C = 3(x) + 2(x) + (x), where x is a score of 3, 2, 1, or 0 assigned to each comparison according to the hexagonal distance between the letters (3 = identical letters, 2 = adjacent hexagonal letters, 1 = alternate hexagonal letters, 0 = opposite hexagonal letters).

To illustrate, a person with an ISA (Investigative-Social-Artistic) code who is in a perfectly congruent (ISA) environment would receive a congruency score (C) of 18, C = [3(3) + 2(3) + 1(3)1 = 18. However, an ISA person in an SAE (Social-Artistic-Enterprising) environment would receive a score of 8, C = [3(1) + 2(2) + 1(1)] = 8. C can range from 0 to 18, with higher scores reflecting progressively higher levels of congruence. Again, the two purposes of the present study were (a) to examine the degree of congruency between the DHOC's classification of a specific working-class occupation and workers' classification of the same occupation using the PCI and (b) to test Holland's assumption that job satisfaction is related to job congruency.


Results revealed a moderately high congruency score (M = 17.15, SD = 8.33) using the Iachan Index (range 0-24). The single, overall three-letter code from the PCI profiles was RSA (Realistic-Social-Artistic), yielding an Iachan Index score of 24 (see Figure 1). Similarly, results revealed an equally moderately high congruency score (M = 10.40, SD = 5.09) using the Brown and Gore C index (range 0-18). Calculating the overall three-letter code from the PCI profiles (RSA) yielded a Brown and Gore C index score of 15 (see Figure 1). Finally, job satisfaction scores were extremely high (M = 8.78, SD = 1.18, range 1-10). The lowest job satisfaction score was 7 (n = 3); the highest job satisfaction score was 10 (n = 8).


The findings of this study provide additional data in support of Holland's (1985, 1997) theory and help explain why his theory of occupations has survived more than 30 years of empirical scrutiny and remains the premier theory in vocational literature (Camp & Chartrand, 1992). For example, the authors of the PCI (Gottfredson & Holland, 1991) stated that the "PCI has passed enough tests to recommend its use in practical application as a method of assessing positions and occupations" (p. 45). The results of this study further reinforce Gottfredson and Holland's (1991) assertions. It appears that both the DHOC and PCI hold promise as tools for understanding working-class occupations and for providing realistic occupational information on nonprofessional jobs to non-college-bound clients.

Perhaps because of the self-selective nature of our sample (i.e., licensed professional guides), the high job satisfaction scores are not surprising. Even so, these job satisfaction scores were consistent with Holland's (1985) premise that job satisfaction relates importantly to job congruency. The results of our study also challenge what others have found regarding working-class occupations, that is, that workers in less prestigious jobs are simply less concerned about actualizing their personalities or less free to do so (Hart, Rayner, & Christensen, 1971; Upperman & Church, 1995). Clearly, the results of our study add a small degree of certainty about the congruence--satisfaction hypothesis for some working-class occupations.

A limitation of the study was that the number of workers in the specific nonprofessional occupation was not large. In addition, validated measures of job satisfaction, such as the Job Description Index (Baltzer & Smith, 1990), and nonprofessional occupations other than fly-fishing guide could be used in future studies to provide more evidence on the validity of the (a) PCI, (b) the DHOC, and (c) the congruence-satisfaction hypothesis among working-class samples.


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Mark J. Miller, William J. Scaggs, and Don Wells, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Louisiana Tech University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mark J. Miller, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Louisiana Tech University, Box 10048, Ruston, LA 71270 (e-mail:
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Author:Miller, Mark J.; Scaggs, William J.; Wells, Don
Publication:Journal of Employment Counseling
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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