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New Developments in the Assessment of Vocational Interests and Implications for Research and Practice: An Editorial for the Special Issue

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Abstract

The assessment and research of vocational interests have a long history in psychology. Our bibliometric analysis shows a steep rise in publication numbers focused on vocational interests immediately after John Holland's (1959) seminal work and a newly awakened impetus especially in German-speaking countries since the 1990's. Contemporary research focuses on new structural models of vocational interests and attempts to further consolidate the construct validity of interests by delving deeper into the associations with personality and cognitive abilities. The enormous research activity of the past couple of decades culminated in two meta-analyses on the criterion-related validity of vocational interests, which reveal moderate validities with respect to occupational criteria, yet sophisticated matching algorithms and more detailed interest models raise expectations for a more precise prediction. The studies included in this special issue contribute to this vivid field of research by (1) rethinking the relationship between creative and investigative interests in particular and the Big Five personality traits, (2) analyzing the interlink between secondary vocational interest constructs and several indicators of career preparedness, (3) testing Gottfredson's developmental theory of occupational aspirations, and (4) investigating the perceived benefits of online selfassessments in an experimental pretest-posttest control group design.

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The past years have been witness to a renewed attention for vocational interests in both theory and practice. In this context the present research aims to illustrate the relevance of finer-grained interest information next to more general information at the domain level. A recently developed and Holland-based interest instrument is presented and validated; it measures 15 interest components in addition to the more familiar Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (RIASEC) domains. We provide evidence for (a) the hierarchical structure of specific interest components under broader interest domains and (b) the convergent validity of this instrument. Moreover, (c) the relevance of considering diversity within Holland types is illustrated by showing divergent associations with Big Five personality traits.
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The purpose of this article is to examine the nature and magnitude of the relationship between cognitive abilities and vocational interests — two important measures of individual differences. Our meta-analysis of 27 studies with 29 independent samples and an overall sample size of 55,297 participants demonstrated meaningful relations between cognitive abilities and vocational interests. Meta-analytic coefficients ranged from −0.29 to 0.47; their strength and direction were comparable for females and males. Furthermore, we established both age and birth cohort as moderators of the relation between interests and cognitive abilities. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
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Following the suggestions of National Institute of Education and American Psychological Association Standards, this article addresses the issue of differential validity and differential prediction in the vocational interest domain as one major concern of test fairness. In order to investigate potential prediction bias in vocational interest measures, we first compare gender-specific validity coefficients for the prediction of person–environment fit and satisfaction to test for differential validity, and second, we examine gender differences in the slopes and intercepts of the regression model predicting person–environment fit to test for differential prediction. Results show evidence of differential validity and some indications of differential prediction in a standard Holland Interest Inventory. However, removing items showing large gender-specific differential item functioning, that is, controlling for measurement bias, slightly reduced prediction bias. Practical implications are discussed and further research objectives are suggested.
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Despite early claims that vocational interests could be used to distinguish successful workers and superior students from their peers, interest measures are generally ignored in the employee selection literature. Nevertheless, theoretical descriptions of vocational interests from vocational and educational psychology have proposed that interest constructs should be related to performance and persistence in work and academic settings. Moreover, on the basis of Holland's (1959, 1997) theoretical predictions, congruence indices, which quantify the degree of similarity or person-environment fit between individuals and their occupations, should be more strongly related to performance than interest scores alone. Using a comprehensive review of the interest literature that spans more than 60 years of research, a meta-analysis was conducted to examine the veracity of these claims. A literature search identified 60 studies and approximately 568 correlations that addressed the relationship between interests and performance. Results showed that interests are indeed related to performance and persistence in work and academic contexts. In addition, the correlations between congruence indices and performance were stronger than for interest scores alone. Thus, consistent with interest theory, the fit between individuals and their environment was more predictive of performance than interest alone. © The Author(s) 2012.
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Using data from published sources, the authors investigated J. L. Holland's (1959, 1997) theory of interest types as an integrative framework for organizing individual differences variables that are used in counseling psychology. Holland's interest types were used to specify 2- and 3-dimensional interest structures. In Study 1, measures of individual characteristics and, in Study 2, measures of environmental demands were successfully integrated into a 2-dimensional circumplex interest structure using the technique of property vector fitting. In Study 3, cognitive abilities were successfully integrated into a 3-dimensional interest structure. Obtained results illustrate the potential utility of interest-based structures for integrating a wide range of information. This represents a 1st step toward the development of an Atlas of Individual Differences, mapping the interrelations among individual-differences measures to facilitate their integrative use in career counseling and other applied settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The purpose of this study was to identify higher-order dimensions that explain the relationships among the Big 6 interest types and the Big 5 personality traits. Meta-analyses were conducted to identify an 11 × 11 true score correlation matrix of interest and personality attributes. Cluster analysis and nonmetric multidimensional scaling were used to identify 3 dimensions that explained relations among the 11 attributes: (a) Interests versus Personality Traits; (b) Striving for Accomplishment Versus Striving for Personal Growth, and (c) Interacting with People Versus Interacting with Things. Overall, results clarified the relationships among interests and personality traits by showing that 3 rather than 2 dimensions best explain the relationships among interests and personality traits.
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Goldberg (Goldberg, L. R. (1999). A broad-bandwidth, public-domain, personality inventory measuring the lower-level facets of several five-factor models. In: I. Mervielde, I. Deary, F. De Fruyt, & F. Ostendorf (Eds.), Personality psychology in Europe (Vol. 7, pp. 7–28). Tilburg, The Netherlands: Tilburg University Press) has argued that the commercialization of personality measures limits the range of questions investigated in empirical research. We propose that the commercialization of interest measures has had a similar effect on research in vocational psychology. Following Goldberg’s example of developing public-domain personality markers, we also propose that the development of public-domain interest markers would facilitate new directions in career-related research. The present study outlines the development and validation of a set of public-domain Basic Interest Markers (BIMs) that are freely available on a website. Using Day and Rounds’ (Day, Susan. X, & Rounds, J. (1997). A little more than kin, and less than kind: Basic interests in vocational research and career counseling. Career Development Quarterly, 45, 207–220) basic interest taxonomy, 343 items and 31 BIM scales were generated. Validity evidence is presented from correlations with the General Occupational Themes and Basic Interest Scales of the Strong Interest Inventory (Harmon, L. W., Hansen, J. C., Borgen, F. H., & Hammer, A. L. (1994). Strong Interest Inventory applications and technical guide. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press). Discriminant validity is demonstrated by the capacity for the BIMs to differentiate major field of education or training. Implications for research and use in applied settings are discussed.
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Holland's RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional) career theory is generally recognized as one of the most important and influential in the field of career development and vocational psychology. We examined data that might verify such an observation, and we used bibliographic research tools to identify all of the publications from 1953 to 2011 on this theory. We categorized the number of citations into five areas: (a) application of the theory in practice, (b) research and practice directed to specific populations (e.g., K-12, age, occupation), (c) tools or instruments operationalizing the theory, (d) validity and efficacy of RIASEC theory, and (e) diverse populations studied in terms of ethnicity, disability, and status. We located a total of 1,970 reference citations to Holland's theory and applications during the 58-year period, and this article describes the methods, findings, and implications of this research.
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Zusammenfassung. Berufliche Interessenverfahren werden hauptsachlich im Rahmen von berufslaufbahnbezogenen Orientierungsmasnahmen eingesetzt. In diesem Zusammenhang kann es von entscheidender Bedeutung sein, ob bei der Ermittlung der individuellen Interessenschwerpunkte bzw. des Interessenprofils eines Ratsuchenden geschlechtsunabhangige (gemeinsame) oder geschlechtsspezifische Normen verwendet werden. Im vorliegenden Beitrag wird der Frage nachgegangen, welche Effekte mit der Anwendung von Geschlechtsnormen verbunden sind. Dazu werden theoretische Uberlegungen zur Normierungslogik angestellt, die Standards bei prominenten deutschsprachigen Interessenverfahren analysiert und in drei Studien die Auswirkungen der unterschiedlichen Normierungsmoglichkeiten auf die Validitat von Interessentests empirisch uberpruft. Sowohl theoretische wie auch empirisch gestutzte Argumente sprechen gegen die in der deutschsprachigen Interessendiagnostik uberwiegend praktizierte Normierung nach Geschlechtern: Offensichtlich vo...
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Performed a meta-analysis of 27 studies reporting a relation between interest congruence and job or academic satisfaction. The overall mean congruence-satisfaction correlation was not significant. An examination of type of congruence measure, gender, Holland type, and academic vs job setting showed no significant moderating effects. Surprisingly, a breakdown by quality of the measurements used in the study indicate that the methodologically weaker studies yielded the strongest satisfaction-congruence relations. Results reinforce the importance of considering occupational fit as more than the match between interests and the occupational environment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Presents a developmental theory of occupational aspirations by providing definitions of key constructs, by reviewing evidence showing that all social groups share the same images of occupations, and by formulating a hypothetical cognitive map of occupations that summarizes those images and the dimensions of people's occupational preferences. Also described is the progressive and usually permanent circumscription of occupational preferences according to one's developing self-concepts. Four stages of development of self-concept and preferences are proposed: orientation to size and power (ages 3–5 yrs), orientation to sex roles (ages 6–8 yrs), orientation to social valuation (ages 9–23 yrs), and orientation to the internal, unique self (age 14 yrs). This development is considered to be highly conditioned by both cognitive development and one's social environment (e.g., social class). People's perceptions of their opportunities for implementing their choices and the priorities they use in reaching a compromise among conflicting goals are examined. (90 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Meta-analysis of the cumulative research on various predictors of job performance showed that for entry-level jobs there was no predictor with validity equal to that of ability, which had a mean validity of .53. For selection on the basis of current job performance, the work sample test, with mean validity of .54, was slightly better. For federal entry-level jobs, substitution of an alternative predictor would cost from $3.12 (job tryout) to $15.89 billion/year (age). Hiring on ability had a utility of $15.61 billion/year but affected minority groups adversely. Hiring on ability by quotas would decrease utility by 5%. A 3rd strategy—using a low cutoff score—would decrease utility by 83%. Using other predictors in conjunction with ability tests might improve validity and reduce adverse impact, but there is as yet no database for studying this possibility. (89 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A theory of vocational choice is presented "in terms of the occupational environments, the person and his development, and the interactions of the person and the vocational environment." Research problems stemming from this theory are suggested and discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
College students were instructed to attempt to fake high scores on four scales of the Strong Interest Blank. All were able to effect increases in mean scores on the scales with reliabilities of .56 to .89. Intercorrelations of faking scores ranged from .05 to .35, and were not significantly correlated with intelligence, sex, or information about the occupation. Item analysis showed that successful faking depends on predicting the more subtle differences in interests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study investigated whether interest inventories that purport to measure the same constructs actually yield scores that correspond. The study examined the empirical relation of scores for similarly and same-named scales on five widely used interest inventories: the Campbell Interest and Skills Survey, the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey–Form DD, the Self-Directed Search, the Strong Interest Inventory–Skills Confidence Edition, and the Revised Unisex Edition of the ACT Interest Inventory. Comparisons were made among scores for (a) vocational interests measured by homogeneous, rationally based scales; (b) occupational interests measured by heterogeneous, criterion-based scales; and (c) self-efficacy for RIASEC tasks. The participants consisted of 80 women and 38 men employed as career counseling practitioners and professors. Results from analyses of multitrait–multimethod matrices indicated that similarly and same-named scales correlated moderately and that, with few exceptions, these matched scales demonstrated convergent and discriminant validity. These conclusions were interpreted by distinguishing between the linguistic explication and operational definition of constructs in theories of vocational and occupational interests. The implications of these interpretations were considered for both the science of vocational psychology and the practice of career counseling. Future research should investigate both the profile validity and the interpretive validity of interest inventories that yield scale scores derived from different scaling strategies.
Article
The Personal Globe Inventory (PGI) evolved from the exploratory work on the spherical structure of interests (Tracey, 1997a; Tracey & Rounds, 1996a,b) and measures activity preferences, activity competence beliefs, and occupational preferences. The PGI is a viable instrument that mirrors information provided by many instruments but also includes greater complexity and flexibility. This monograph describes the inventory, examines its reliability and construct validity, discusses options for profiling inventory results, interprets five illustrative profiles, and suggests directions for future research.
Article
a b s t r a c t Investigations addressing the match between vocational interests and satisfaction have emphasized higher-order dimensions (e.g., Holland themes) and specific occupational scales. Although support exists at these levels of analysis for the hypothesis that congru-ence between interests and work environments yields satisfaction, limitations of these per-spectives frequently result in small effect sizes or inconclusive results. This study examined the capacity of content scales of the 2005 Strong Interest Inventory, including the General Occupational Themes (GOTs) and Basic Interest Scales (BISs), in predicting job satisfaction across 22 samples comprising 9647 working adults. Hypothesized multivariate sets of con-tent scales, and predicted individual GOTs and BISs demonstrated significant group differ-ences. Sequential discriminant function analyses demonstrated that sets of hypothesized BISs significantly distinguished between satisfied and dissatisfied workers beyond the six Holland themes in 17 of the 22 occupational samples. The authors discuss practical impli-cations of interpreting BISs to augment Holland themes related to job satisfaction.
Article
This paper presents a discussion of the bandwidth–fidelity dilemma in personality measurement for personnel selection purposes. Should job applicants be assessed on fine-grained personality variables or on broader personality variables, such as the Big Five dimensions of personality? Most human resources practitioners and researchers appear to assume that more specific and narrow measures of personality traits result in better and more fine-grained understanding of the person, and therefore ought to be preferred over global measures. We review evidence that when the criterion of interest is job performance, broader personality measures may be preferable over narrowly focused ones. It appears that the alleged advantages of narrowly defined traits and narrowly constructed measures are mainly due to erroneous conventional beliefs predicated upon statistical artifacts. In personnel selection research and practice, we advocate the use of broader personality traits for both better prediction and explanation.
Article
The purpose of this study is to examine the nature and magnitude of the relationship between 2 widely accepted models for classifying individual differences–the 5-factor model of personality and Holland's RI-ASEC occupational types. Based on extensive meta-analyses, our results illustrate that there are meaningful relations between some FFM personality dimensions and some RIASEC types. The strongest relationships were obtained between the RIASEC types of enterprising and artistic with the FFM personality dimensions of Extraversion and Openness to Experience, p= .41 and .39, respectively. Three other RIASEC types had moderate correlations with at least 1 FFM personality trait. In contrast, the realistic type was not related to any FFM personality traits. Multiple regression analyses in which each RIASEC type is regressed on the FFM scores (based on meta-analytic estimates), revealed a multiple R of .11 for realistic, .26 for investigative, .42 for artistic, .31 for social, .47 for enterprising, and .27 for conventional types. The overall conclusion from the study is that although FFM personality traits and RIASEC types are related, they are not merely substitutes for each other.
Article
This article presents a series of meta-analyses examining the 24 samples to date that have revealed the overlap of the three most widely used measures of Holland's Big Six domains of vocational interest, namely the Self-Directed Search (Holland, 1985a), the Strong Interest Inventory (Hansen & Campbell, 1985; Harmon, Hansen, Borgen, & Hammer, 1994), and the Vocational Preference Inventory (Holland, 1985b), with the most widely accepted measure of the Big Five personality factors, namely the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The meta-analyses showed the mean effect sizes for each of the 30 correlations between the six interest dimensions and the five personality dimensions. Of the 30 correlations, 5 appeared to be substantial for both women and men and across the interest measures. They are Artistic–Openness (r=.48), Enterprising–Extraversion (r=.41), Social–Extraversion (r=.31), Investigative–Openness (r=.28), and Social–Agreeableness (r=.19).
Article
Holland uses a hexagon to model relationships among his six types of vocational interests. This paper provides empirical evidence regarding the nature of the interest dimensions underlying the hexagon. Two studies are reported. Study 1 examines the extent to which two theory-based dimensions—data/ideas and things/people—fit 27 sets of intercorrelations for Holland's types. Three of the data sets involve the mean scores of career groups (total of 228 groups and 35,060 individuals); 24 involve the scores for individuals (total of 11,275). Study 2 explores the heuristic value of the data/ideas and things/people dimensions by determining whether they contribute to the understanding of why interest inventories work. Two data sets covering a total of 563 occupations are used to calculate correlations between the vocational interests of persons and the tasks which characterize the persons' occupations. Each occupation's principal work tasks are determined from job analysis data obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor. Study 1 results provide substantial support for the theory-based dimensions. Study 2 results suggest that interest inventories “work” primarily because they tap activity preferences which parallel work tasks. Counseling and research applications of the data/ideas and things/people dimensions are suggested and implications for interest assessment are noted.
Article
This paper illustrates a procedure for using the interest scores of occupational group members to locate occupations on Holland's hexagon. The procedure locates occupations throughout the hexagon—not just at six points (R, I, A, S, E, C). Score profiles for Holland's six types were obtained approximately 8 years prior to determining the occupations of 3612 4-year college alumni. The hexagon locations of 51 occupations pursued by these alumni were determined through the application of hexagon-based weights to their score profiles. The weights convert the profiles to scores on the Data/Ideas and Things/People work task dimensions that underlie the hexagon. Several applications of hexagon locations are described, including a Hexagon Congruence Index that reports person-occupation congruence on a scale anchored to the hexagon. The Hexagon Congruence Index can be used with 6-score profiles of Holland's types, 3-letter codes, 2-letter codes, high-point codes, or any combination of these reporting procedures.
Article
In this study a hierarchical model for the structure of vocational interests is proposed. Theoretical and methodological considerations, reanalysis of the C. E. Lunneborg and P. E. Lunneborg (Journal of Vocational Behavior, 1975, 7, 313–326) data, and an alternative interpretation of existing findings suggest that this model accounts for the interrelations among the vocational interest fields better than the hexagonal-circular models, or the four-factorial structure proposed by Lunneborg and Lunneborg (1975). The implications of this hierarchical model for vocational theory and some applications in vocational guidance are discussed.
Article
The cross-cultural generalizability of vocational interest structures has received significant attention in recent years. This article adds to this research in four respects. First, data from a context that has not previously been investigated (Germany) was analyzed. Second, students at different stages of their educational career were examined. Third, the interest structure in male and females was compared. Fourth, two methods—the randomization test of hypothesized order relations (RTOR) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)—were applied to three competing structural conceptions: Holland’s circular representation, Gati’s hierarchical model, and Rounds and Tracey’s alternative hierarchical model. RTOR supported all three representations, whereas CFA supported only Holland’s model. CFAs indicated that the interest structure is reasonably invariant between high school and university students, but that the configurations for high school females and males differ. Substantive and methodological implications are discussed.
Article
Explanations for women's underrepresentation in math-intensive fields of science often focus on sex discrimination in grant and manuscript reviewing, interviewing, and hiring. Claims that women scientists suffer discrimination in these arenas rest on a set of studies undergirding policies and programs aimed at remediation. More recent and robust empiricism, however, fails to support assertions of discrimination in these domains. To better understand women's underrepresentation in math-intensive fields and its causes, we reprise claims of discrimination and their evidentiary bases. Based on a review of the past 20 y of data, we suggest that some of these claims are no longer valid and, if uncritically accepted as current causes of women's lack of progress, can delay or prevent understanding of contemporary determinants of women's underrepresentation. We conclude that differential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women's participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today. Addressing today's causes of underrepresentation requires focusing on education and policy changes that will make institutions responsive to differing biological realities of the sexes. Finally, we suggest potential avenues of intervention to increase gender fairness that accord with current, as opposed to historical, findings.
Article
This article celebrates the 50th anniversary of the introduction of John L. Holland's (1959) theory of vocational personalities and work environments by describing the theory's development and evolution, its instrumentation, and its current status. Hallmarks of Holland's theory are its empirical testability and its user-friendliness. By constructing measures for operationalizing the theory's constructs, Holland and his colleagues helped ensure that the theory could be implemented in practice on a widespread basis. Empirical data offer considerable support for the existence of Holland's RIASEC types and their ordering among persons and environments. Although Holland's congruence hypotheses have received empirical support, congruence appears to have modest predictive power. Mixed support exists for Holland's hypotheses involving the secondary constructs of differentiation, consistency, and vocational identity. Evidence of the continued impact of Holland's theory on the field of counseling psychology, particularly in the area of interest assessment, can be seen from its frequent implementation in practice and its use by scholars. Ideas for future research and practice using Holland's theory are suggested.
Article
Although vocational interests have a long history in vocational psychology, they have received extremely limited attention within the recent personnel selection literature. We reconsider some widely held beliefs concerning the (low) validity of interests for predicting criteria important to selection researchers, and we review theory and empirical evidence that challenge such beliefs. We then describe the development and validation of an interests-based selection measure. Results of a large validation study (N = 418) reveal that interests predicted a diverse set of criteria—including measures of job knowledge, job performance, and continuance intentions—with corrected, cross-validated Rs that ranged from .25 to .46 across the criteria (mean R = .31). Interests also provided incremental validity beyond measures of general cognitive aptitude and facets of the Big Five personality dimensions in relation to each criterion. Furthermore, with a couple exceptions, the interest scales were associated with small to medium subgroup differences, which in most cases favored women and racial minorities. Taken as a whole, these results appear to call into question the prevailing thought that vocational interests have limited usefulness for selection.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--School of Education, Stanford University, 1951. Bibliography: numb. leaf 56-57.
Article
There are discrepant findings in the literature regarding the effects of applicant faking on the validity of noncognitive measures. One explanation for these mixed results may be the failure of some studies to consider individual differences in faking. This study demonstrates that there is considerable variance across individuals in the extent of faking 3 types of noncognitive measures (i.e., personality test, biodata inventory, and integrity test). Participants completed measures honestly and with instructions to fake. Results indicated some measures were more difficult to fake than others. The authors found that integrity, conscientiousness, and neuroticism were related to faking. In addition, individuals faked fairly consistently across the measures. Implications of these results and a model of faking that includes factors that may influence faking behavior are provided.
(FHNW) School of Applied Psychology Institute Humans in Complex Systems (MikS) Riggenbachstrasse 16 4600 Olten Switzerland benedikt.hell@fhnw.ch Dr
  • Prof
  • Dr
Prof. Dr. Benedikt Hell University of Applied Sciences (FHNW) School of Applied Psychology Institute Humans in Complex Systems (MikS) Riggenbachstrasse 16 4600 Olten Switzerland benedikt.hell@fhnw.ch Dr. Bart Wille Ghent University Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology Henri Dunantlaan 2 9000 Gent Belgium bart.wille@ugent.be Prof. Dr. Stefan Höft University of Applied Labour Studies of the German Federal Employment Agency (HdBA) Seckenheimer Landstraße 16 68163 Mannheim Germany stefan.hoeft@hdba.de
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Beyond RIASEC: Entwicklung und Evaluation eines hierarchischen Interessenstrukturmodells [Beyond RIASEC: Construction and evaluation of a hierarchical structure model for interests
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Gatzka, T., & Hell, B. (2014, September). Beyond RIASEC: Entwicklung und Evaluation eines hierarchischen Interessenstrukturmodells [Beyond RIASEC: Construction and evaluation of a hierarchical structure model for interests]. Paper presented at the 49 th Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie, Bochum, Germany.
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