Holland’s Six Personality Types

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Six Occupational Personality Types
by - John L. Holland

John L Holland, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, is a psychologist who devoted his professional life to researching issues related to career choice and satisfaction. He developed a well-known theory, and designed several assessments and supporting materials to assist people in making effective career choices. His theory and assessment tools have helped millions of people worldwide and are supported by hundreds of research studies.

Holland proposed personality job fit theory which identifies six personality types and proposes that the fit between personality type and occupational environment determines satisfaction and turnover.

Holland’s Theory
Holland found that people needing help with career decisions can be supported by understanding their resemblance to the following six ideal vocational personality types: •Realistic (R)
Investigative (I)
Artistic (A)
Social (S)
Enterprising (E)
Conventional (C)

Work settings can also be categorized by their resemblance to six similar model work environments. Because people search for environments that allow them to express their interests, skills, attitudes and values, and take on interesting problems and agreeable roles, work environments become populated by individuals with related occupational personality types.

According to Holland, if personality type matches the work environment, success and satisfaction can improve. The idea is that “birds of a feather, flock together,” and that people with the same personality type tend to enjoy working with each other. For example, Artistic people enjoy working with other Artistic people.

Additionally, people with the same personality type tend to create a work environment that rewards thinking and behaving like that type.
Holland’s Six Personality Types
The descriptions of Holland’s personality types refer to idealized or pure types. Holland’s personality types are visually represented by a hexagonal model. The types closest to each other on the hexagon have the most characteristics in common. Those types that are furthest apart, i.e., opposites on the hexagon, have the least in common.

Listed below are the six Holland Occupational Personality Types. The descriptions of “pure types” will rarely be an exact fit for any one person. Personality will more likely combine several types to varying degrees.

Personality DimensionPreferencePersonality CharacteristicsJobs (Congruent options) Realistic
(Do’er)Prefers activities that require physical skill strength and coordinationShy, genuine, stable, conforming, practicalDrill Operator, Mechanic, Farmer, Assembler, engineer Investigative
(Thinker)Prefers activities that involve thinking, organising, understandingAnalytical, curious, IndependentMathematician, Research Worker Economist, News Reporter, Professor Artistic
(Creator)Prefers ambiguous and unsystematic activities that allow creative expressionImaginative, Emotional, Idealistic, disorderly, impracticalPainter, Musician, Writer, Architect Social
(Helper)Prefers activities that involve helping and developing othersSociable, co-operative, understanding, friendlyTeacher, Social Worker, Counsellor, Doctor Enterprising
(Persuader)Prefers verbal activities where there are opportunities to influence others and obtain powerAmbitious, Energetic, Ambitious, domineering, self-confidentLawyer, Businessman, Real Estate Agent, PRO, Sales person, Marketing professional Conventional

(organiser)Prefers rule regulated, orderly and unambiguous activitiesConfirming, Efficient, Accurate Practical, unimaginative, inflexibleAccountant, Corporate Manager, File Clerk, Editor

Realistic (R)
Realistic individuals are active and stable and enjoy hands-on or manual activities, such as building, mechanics, machinery operation and athletics. They prefer to work with things rather than ideas and people. They...
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