A decision theoretic approach to the study of vocational behavior: intrasubject predictions of vocational preference

Monahan, Carlyn
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Much of the research on vocational preference and choice has focused on the proper match between people and work environments. Another approach focuses on the judgment process of an individual: how an individual uses information about work environments in forming preferences. The present study was an effort to integrate these two approaches;Five indices of vocational preferences--all based upon Holland's vocational typology--were used in this study. Two were inventoried measures of vocational preference. Three were self-report measures. In addition, two of the measures (one self-report, one inventory) were based upon preference for particular occupations. Three of the measures were based upon preference for certain components of work environments (occupational dimensions). The first part of the study was a "multi-instrument" validation of the six vocational typologies identified by Holland. The second part concerned the impact of vocational decidedness on the convergence among the five measures;Subjects (90 undergraduates) were categorized according to VPI-RIASEC high point code. Fifteen subjects were identified for each of Holland's six vocational types;All measures of vocational preference were positively related. However, the convergence among measures was moderated by the level of vocational decidedness as defined by Holland's Vocational Identity Scale and a measure of Occupational Uncertainty. There was greater convergence among measures of vocational preference for people high in vocational decidedness than for people low in vocational decidedness;Expressed occupational interests or preferences (a self-report measure of preference for a specific occupation) have been shown to be valid predictors of vocational choice. A self-report measure based upon preference for vocational dimensions was the most accurate predictor of expressed occupational preference, correctly predicting expressed preference 78% of the time. The degree of empirical support and conceptual clarity manifested in the evaluation of work dimensions (as opposed to total work environments) in the vocational judgment process is similar to other areas of industrial/organizational psychology which also utilize the concept of work dimensions: synthetic validity and job design.