Developmental antecedents, conceptual systems, and vocational choice

William Anthony Kirby, Fordham University


This study was conducted to add to and clarify the research concerning the vocational behavior of employed adults. The relationship between Conceptual Systems theory and Holland's theory of vocational choice, and developmental antecedents of conceptual system stages and Holland's theory of vocational choice were examined. Holland's Vocational Personality Inventory, O. J. Harvey's This I Believe test, and O. J. Harvey's Parent Child Relationship Questionnaire (PCRQ) were administered to 180 adults in a stratified sampling design that included 30 adults in each of the following occupations: lab technician, dentist, musician, social worker, lawyer, or accountant. Of these 180 participants, approximately 66% were functioning in conceptual system stage I, 19% in stage II, 8% in stage III, and 7% in stage IV. A chi-square analysis revealed a significant relationship ($p <$.001) between primary conceptual system stage and current occupation. Further, a chi-square test of goodness-of-fit revealed that the sample differed significantly ($p <$.000) from the general population in conceptual system stage distribution. A cluster analysis of the PCRQ and subsequent discriminant procedure did not yield a significant discriminant function in an attempt to predict occupation from the PCRQ. A congruence score between vocational personality type and current occupation was constructed on a seven point scale to assess their degree of agreement. A chi-square analysis revealed a significant relationship ($p <$.003) between congruence and purity of conceptual system functioning. Those respondents characterized by a single conceptual system stage were found to be more congruent in regards to their vocational personality score and the occupational code of their current occupation. Those respondents representing admixtures of conceptual systems stages were found to be less congruent. Recommendations for future research included replication of the study on a larger scale to determine training conditions that characterize various occupations and suboccupations.

Subject Area

Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Kirby, William Anthony, "Developmental antecedents, conceptual systems, and vocational choice" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8821955.