Troy University-Phenix City
Vocational Psychology and Career Development
Dr. Thomas Peavy
April 01, 2011
The concept of person-environment fit (P-E fit) is central to research in organizational behavior, organizational psychology, and human resource management (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Edwards, Caplan, & Harrison, 1998; Holland, 1997; Kristof, 1996; Walsh, Craik & Price, 2000). P-E fit has been examined in reference to various person and environment constructs, such as employee needs and work- related rewards (Dawis, 1992; Edwards & Harrison, 1993; Rice, McFarlin, & Bennett, 1989), employee abilities and job demands (Caldwell & O’Reilly, 1990; Kristof-Brown, 2000; Westman & Eden, 1992), personal and organization values (Adkins, Ravlin, & Meglino, 1996; Cable & Judge, 1996, 1997; Judge & Bretz, 1992), and the personality of the employee and other members of the organization (Schneider, 1987). Studies suggest that P-E fit is related to recruitment and selection decisions, occupational choice, job satisfaction, performance, organization commitment, turnover, and psychological and physical well-being (Edwards, 1991; Judge & Kristof-Brown, 2004; Kristof, 1996; Spokane, Meir, & Catalano, 2000; Verquer, Beerhr, & Wagner, 2003; Werbel & Gilliland, 1999). Understanding how people choose their work and educational environments and the process that leads to satisfaction in these environments is critical to optimizing productivity and self – actualization. A perspicuous theory of career choice is Holland’s (1992) theory of person-environment fit. Essentially this theory postulates six personality types (realistic [R], investigative [I], artistic [A], social [S], enterprising [E], and conventional [C]) and six environments (with the same descriptors R, I, A, S, E, and C). According to Holland, the relationships among six personality types can be represented as a hexagon (Wampold, Ankaelo, Trinidad-Carrillo, Baumler, and Prater (1995). The Euclidean distance between the types corresponds to their psychological similarity (e.g., investigative types are most similar to enterprising types). Holland’s theory predicts, and hundreds of studies have confirmed (Holland, 1992; Spokane, 1985), that people seek environments that are compatible with their abilities, allow them to express their attitudes and values, and contain interesting tasks. That is, a person of a given personality type will choose and feel most satisfied in the environment that corresponds to his or her personality type (Wampold et al. 1995). A different approach to assessing person-environment fit is suggested by the Theory of Work Adjustment (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984). This theory emphasizes the concept of correspondence, which is defined as the degree to, which is defined as the degree to which the individual and the environment meet each other’s requirements (Lofquist & Dawis, 1991). In terms of the individual’s requirements, correspondence refers to the match between the individual’s needs and the reinforce patterns of the environment. Typically, the Minnesota Importance Questionnaire or the Occupational Reinforcer Patterns is used to assess the reinforce system (Gati, Garty, and Fassa 1996). Because both interest theory and the Theory of Work Adjustment stem from the person-environment perspective, they both propose that congruence or correspondence results in satisfaction, persistence, and high performance in the workplace. Furthermore, both rely on reinforcement as an explanation for how congruence or correspondence is related to these dependent variables. Indeed, Dawis (1994, p.37) stated that “[the Theory of Work Adjustment’s] convergence with the Holland (1985) theory is the most apparent and arguably the closest.” However, there are also several important differences between these two approaches, three of...