Study: Vocational Interests Assessed
at the End of High School Predict
Life Outcomes Assessed 10 Years
Later over and above IQ and Big
Five Personality Traits

Study: Vocational Interests Assessed at the End of High School Predict Life Outcomes Assessed 10 Years Later over and above IQ and Big Five Personality Traits

Keywords:

RIASEC; Big Five; work; relationships; health

Author(s):

Gundula Stoll, Sven Rieger, Oliver Lüdtke, Benjamin Nagengast, Ulrich Trautwein, Brent W. Roberts

Date:

2017

Abstract

Vocational interests are important aspects of personality that reflect individual differences in motives, goals, and personal strivings. It is therefore plausible that these characteristics have an impact on individuals’ lives not only in terms of vocational outcomes, but also beyond the vocational domain. Yet the effects of vocational interests on various life outcomes have rarely been investigated. Using Holland’s RIASEC taxonomy (Holland, 1997), which groups vocational interests into six broad domains, the present study examined whether vocational interests are significant predictors of life outcomes that show incremental validity over and above the Big Five personality traits. For this purpose, a cohort of German high school students (N = 3,023) was tracked over a period of 10 years after graduating from school. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the predictive validity of RIASEC interests and Big Five personality traits. Nine outcomes from the domains of work, relationships, and health were investigated. The results indicate that vocational interests are important predictors of life outcomes that show incremental validity over the Big Five personality traits. Vocational interests were significant predictors of seven of the nine investigated outcomes: full-time employment, gross income, unemployment, being married, having children, never having had a relationship, and perceived health status. For work and relationship outcomes, vocational interests were even stronger predictors than the Big Five personality traits. For health-related outcomes, the results favored the personality traits. Effects were similar across gender for all outcomes—except two relationship outcomes. Possible explanations for these effects are discussed.

Introduction

There is convincing evidence that noncognitive factors such as personality traits are at least as important for predicting certain life outcomes as cognitive ability and socioeconomic status (Roberts, Kuncel, Shiner, Caspi, & Goldberg, 2007).

Conclusion

Although it might be less surprising that vocational interests influenced work-related outcomes, the results presented here show that some of the vocational interest scales were directly associated with work-related outcomes. The pattern of results is plausible and corresponds with several of Holland’s (1997) postulates. Young people with higher Realistic and Enterprising interests worked more and earned more money, whereas young people with higher Artistic and Social interests worked less and earned less money. This would indicate that the role of interests goes beyond the notion of fit, as interests appear to influence secondary factors that have large effects on people’s well-being beyond being satisfied with their work.“