Cross-cultural validity of Holland's theory: Does how we measure interests matter?



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Holland’s Person-Environment Fit Theory (Holland, 1966, 1997) posits that an individual’s interests predict career choice. Researchers, however, have not found support for this with individuals from cultural groups associated with interdependence (Flores & O’Brien, 1996; Luzzo, 1992). Interdependent individuals experience the self as interconnected with others and flexible across social roles (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Researchers have found, however, that self-descriptions and self-endorsed traits of interdependent people vary across measurement contexts (Kanagawa, Cross & Markus, 2001; Suh, 2002). The current study tested whether the same phenomenon occurs for measured interests because this may explain the lack of relationship between interests and career choice for individuals that tend to be interdependent. The present study did not replicate the effects found in previous research, in that the self-reported interests of participants primed with interdependence were not affected by the measurement context. This may be an artifact of the apparent inefficacy of the procedure used to prime interdependence in participants, which significantly limits the data’s suitability to address the research question. Post hoc analysis, however, similarly failed to find an effect of context on the interests of participants who reported being interdependent (regardless of priming). Implications of this for Holland’s theory are discussed.



Holland, Vocational psychology, Assessment, Culture, Self-construal, Independence, Interdependence, Priming