Gina Jenkins, Heather Unger, Devyn Bolden, Maggie McCartney
Tracey, T., & Darcy, M. (2002). An idiothetic examination of vocational interests and
their relation to career decidedness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49(4).
Retrieved September 22, 2003, from Ovid database.
Most vocational interest models are based on normative structures, or those that are generated and validated according to large groups of people. An example of a normative structure is Hollandís (1997) RAISEC model based on interests and types of occupation. RAISEC stands for Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. These are the 6 main types of interest and occupation that are arranged hexagonally in the Holland vocational interests test.
This model represents how most people in the U.S. organize vocational interest. Normative approaches can really just estimate how most people generalize their thinking about vocations, but not all. Allport (1937) suggested an approach where focus on individualís uniqueness is used. Each person has a vocational personality that deviates in some way from the majority. An idiographic approach tends to be better when deciding on a vocation for an individual. Idiographic is taking the results from the vocational tests and applying them only to the individual test taker. Personality characteristics can be drawn upon just for that specific individual. This study focuses on the RAISEC and how individuals decipher interests in a manner similar to the circular norm of the RAISEC. Many individuals organize their likes and dislikes in a manner, which deviates from the RAISEC model. When a person has career indecision, or a lack of clarity in one's future career, it is key to understand each personís unique organization of interests before attempting to apply normative models. Nonnormative interest structures may manifest themselves in career decidedness. This study focused on career decidedness using the Career Decision Scale (CDS), which is a scale that yields scores for two aspects: career certainty and career indecision. The CDS is nineteen items with a four-point likert scale. Career certainty knows what one wants to do with their career and it focuses on the actual commitment to a career whereas indecision focuses on difficulties that arise when making choices. Adherence to a normative structure may be related to career certainty, but this has not been proven.
Career decision-making and certainty are often related to self-awareness and work world understanding. People who choose to use a normative model often have an easier time organizing their thoughts and ideas and coming up with a clear conclusion about a career that is right for them. Not using the normative structure has been related to career indecision and uncertainty. Some individuals are capable of committing to a career with certainty without any active search, but most people are not that way.
There is a relationship between interest and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the amount of confidence one has in his or her own abilities. This study suggests that self-efficacy aids in exploration of different careers and eventually career certainty, because those who see themselves as competent often do better during the decision making process about their future careers. The hypothesis is that those who use the normative model for contemplating interests may display higher levels of general self-efficacy that those who do not adhere to the model. Those who deviate from the normative structure are likely to feel confused about their vocational interests and the work force.
This study uses an idiothetic approach using both normative and idiographic levels of analyzing. The main purpose is to determine if individual deviation from the normative structure leads to indecisiveness about oneís career. Those individuals would therefore have less self-efficacy overall. And then interest was focused on the range of interest structures used. Typically this would involve correlating scores on an interest inventory and use factor analysis to look at dimensions in the background. A paired comparison format was used and then three-way multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis. The researcher could assess individual variance in the fit with the normative scale. Instead of generating a structure for a group, using paired comparisons and MDS enables determination of a unique structure for individuals. Both individual and group processes were used in this study.
One hundred and sixty-two college students were used for this study. The students filled out an inventory of childrenís activities-revised (ICA-R), an inventory of childrenís activities-paired, and the Career Decision Scale. Although the normative RIASEC does fit most individuals, not everyone uses this model in their thinking about interests. Twelve percent of the sample did not use the RIASEC model. MDS analysis showed that there is deviation from the circular model in the dimensions and structures used by individuals to organize their career interest thinking. The results showed that the more an individual fit the normative model for thinking about interests, the more certain they were about career choices and the less likely they were to express indecision in the career choice and decision making process. As was hypothesized, the extent of the relation between adherence to the normative model and indecision was greater that the relation of adherence and certainty in decisions.
Those who use the RIASEC can easily compare domains, discuss them and reach reasonable career decisions. The results did not support the hypothesis about a relationship between adherence to the normative model and generalized self-efficacy. Helping clients to understand the normative model will provide them with tools to understand the work world and themselves more fully. This will lead to better decision making overall. Interventions should aim towards increasing peoples understanding of the normative model by teaching normative RIASEC structures.
In this study two different conclusions have presented themselves. Adopting a normative approach could either facilitate understanding and usage of career information or it could confuse those individuals more who do not view themselves and the world in a manner consistent with the RIASEC resulting in poor decision making and career outcomes. Further research is required to determine the overall effects. This study shows that counselors can benefit from awareness of those who deviate from the normative model. Diversity about how people see occupations and vocational interests is crucial. Interventions that have high personal relevance for people are likely to have more of an impact than those that do not.
Atypical individuals in the study construed the RIASEC types differently than most. These individuals viewed A and C as being similar, and S, E and I as similar, and both of these clusters as dissimilar from each other and from R. This is very different from the RIASEC structure. It is rather simple for a career counselor to ask his or her client if they use the atypical method of the RIASEC or the normal model. It is expected that some individuals will differ from the normative structure due to error variance (mistakes made during the statistical analysis in the results section). Replication is necessary to determine what variations from the norm are true deviations as apposed to being mistakes or due merely to chance. Usually if deviations are attributable to error the pattern would be extremely varied within those who did not fit the structure. In this study the atypical individuals had a common, uniform structure and not one that varied very much from one individual to the next.
The sample for this study was representative of those that seek out career decision-making assistance. They were all enrolled in a university career development class. The results should be replicated using individuals in other contexts to test validity. It would be a good idea to test people that enter career development offices for career counseling. This study does, however, present important research for people in the career development field. RIASEC does fit well with most individuals. There is a relationship between this model and career decision-making. As far as those individuals that deviate, more research will most likely be needed to develop a more cover-all approach. In the future studies should try out a more idiographic approach to assisting in career decisions because each person is so different, and instruments used could use to be more individualized as well.