Re-conceptualizing the past: Historical data in vocational interest research

Patrick Ian Armstrong, James Rounds, Lawrence Hubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Noteworthy progress has been made in the development of statistical models for evaluating the structure of vocational interests over the past three decades. It is proposed that historically significant interest datasets, when combined with modern structural methods of data analysis, provide an opportunity to re-examine the underlying assumptions of J.L. Holland's [Holland, J. L. (1959). A theory of vocational choice. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 6, 35-45; Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources] RIASEC model. To illustrate this potential, data obtained from J. P. Guilford's study of interest structure were re-analyzed using modern circumplex and hierarchical clustering techniques to evaluate Holland's and I. Gati's [Gati, I. (1979). A hierarchical model for the structure of interests. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 15, 90-106; Gati, I. (1991). The structure of vocational interests. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 309-324] interest structures. Obtained results indicate that a circumplex model can be used to effectively represent the structure underlying Guilford's interest measures. However, hierarchical clustering results suggest that Holland's RIASEC types may not be the most effective categories for grouping specific interest measures into broader interest areas. The current findings provide support for the continued investigation of alternatives to Holland's interest categories using modern measures of basic interests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-297
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Circumplex models
  • Hierarchical clustering
  • Historical data
  • Holland's RIASEC model
  • Vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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