Fit gets better: A longitudinal study of changes in interest fit in educational and work environments

Alexis Hanna, Daniel Briley, Sif Einarsdóttir, Kevin Hoff, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theories of person–environment fit describe a dynamic process in which fit should improve over time due to changes in a person’s attributes, the environment, or both. Although these ideas are central in several theoretical perspectives, they have largely gone untested. Here, we report a longitudinal examination of interest congruence (i.e. interest fit) across 12 years during the transition from education to the workforce. The study uses four methods to capture interest congruence and the drivers of fit change: growth models, latent congruence models, person and environment latent difference scores, and piecewise growth models based on environmental transitions. Each method uses a different lens to understand interest congruence in educational and work domains. Across methods, three results were typically found: (1) interest congruence improved over time in school and at work, (2) participants’ interests often predicted educational and work changes, and (3) participants’ interests rarely changed in response to their environment. These results support a dynamic conceptualization of fit and suggest that selection—rather than socialization—is the main mechanism through which individuals achieve better interest fit during young adulthood. Other implications are discussed for theory development and the applied use of interest assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-580
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • interest congruence
  • person–environment fit
  • selection processes
  • vocational interests
  • young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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