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

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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 6 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 7 of the 9 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 2 relationship outcomes. Possible explanations for these effects are discussed.

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