John L. Holland's RIASEC hexagon of The Holland Codes, graphed as a hexagon, shows that it is a circumplex that can be mapped onto two underlying dimensions.
John L. Holland's RIASEC hexagon of The Holland Codes, graphed as a hexagon, shows that it is a circumplex that can be mapped onto two underlying dimensions.

The Holland Codes or the Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC) refers to a taxonomy of interests[1] based on a theory of careers and vocational choice that was initially developed by American psychologist John L. Holland.[2][3]

The Holland Codes serve as a component of the interests assessment, the Strong Interest Inventory. In addition, the US Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has been using an updated and expanded version of the RIASEC model in the "Interests" section of its free online database O*NET (Occupational Information Network)[4] since its inception during the late 1990s.[5][6]


Holland's theories of vocational choice, The Holland Occupational Themes, "now pervades career counseling research and practice".[3] Its origins "can be traced to an article in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1958 and a subsequent article in 1959 that set out his theory of vocational choices. ... The basic premise was that one's occupational preferences were in a sense a veiled expression of underlying character."[7] The 1959 article in particular ("A Theory of Vocational Choice," published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology) is considered the first major introduction of Holland's "theory of vocational personalities and work environments".[3]

Holland originally labeled his six types as "motoric, intellectual, esthetic, supportive, persuasive, and conforming".[3] He later developed and changed them to: "Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders), and Conventional (Organizers)".[8] Holland's six categories show some correlation with each other.[9] It is called the RIASEC model or the hexagonal model because the initial letter of the region is equal to R-I-A-S-E-C when it is expressed as a circle connecting the regions of high correlation. Professor John Johnson of Penn State suggested that an alternative way of categorizing the six types would be through ancient social roles: "hunters (Realistic), shamans (Investigative), artisans (Artistic), healers (Social), leaders (Enterprising), and lorekeepers (Conventional)".[10]

According to the Committee on Scientific Awards, Holland's "research shows that personalities seek out and flourish in career environments they fit and that jobs and career environments are classifiable by the personalities that flourish in them".[11] Holland also wrote of his theory that "the choice of a vocation is an expression of personality".[12]: 6  Furthermore, while Holland suggested that people can be "categorized as one of six types",[12]: 2  he also argued that "a six-category scheme built on the assumption that there are only six kinds of people in the world is unacceptable on the strength of common sense alone. But a six category scheme that allows a simple ordering of a person's resemblance to each of the six models provides the possibility of 720 different personality patterns."[12]: 3 

Related model

Prediger's two-dimensional model

Prediger constructed the scale of "work task" and "work relevant abilities" based on Holland's model, and carried out factor analysis and multidimensional scale analysis to clarify the basic structure.[13][14][15] As a result, two axes of Data/Ideas and Things/People were extracted. Although Prediger's inquiry did not start from interest per se, it eventually led to the birth of models other than RIASEC, suggesting that the structure of occupational interest may provide a basic dimension.

Tracey and Rounds's octagonal model

In the United States, the energetic trial is being made with the aim of the new model which surpasses Holland hexagon model in 1990's. Tracey & Rounds's octagonal model is one such example.[16] Based on the empirical data, they argue that occupational interests can be placed circularly in a two-dimensional plane consisting of People/Things and Data/ldeas axes, and the number of regions can be arbitrarily determined. According to their model, only Holland's hexagonal model does not adequately represent the structure of occupational interest, and it is possible to retain validity as an octagonal or 16 square model if necessary.

Tracey, Watanabe, & Schneider conducted an international comparative study of job interests among Japanese and U.S. university students, and the results suggest that the Tracey & Rounds's octagonal model is more fitted to Japanese students than Holland's hexagonal model.[17]

Tracey and Rounds's spherical model

Tracey & Rounds criticizes that the conventional models of occupational interest structure do not correctly depict the positional relationship of occupations because they neglect occupational prestige, i.e., "social prestige" or "high socioeconomic status" and proposes a spherical model that assigns occupations to a 3-dimensional space incorporating occupational prestige.[18] In this model, 18 regions of interest are displayed on a spherical space. The left hemisphere has a high status area, with Health Sciences at the top. The right hemisphere has a low status area, with Service Provision as the lowest ground.

Though this model is excellent in the point of more accurately describing the relation between various occupations, it makes the occupation interest structure more complicated, and there is a weak point that it is difficult to be adapted to the data except for U.S.A.[17]

List of types

Holland made a career out of studying the world of work, pioneering the theory that if people were aware of their personality type or combination of types—realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising or conventional—then they would be happier workers.

—Amy Lunday[2]

R: Realistic (Doers)

People who like to work with "things". They tend to be "assertive and competitive, and are interested in activities requiring motor coordination, skill and strength". They approach problem solving "by doing something, rather than talking about it, or sitting and thinking about it". They also prefer "concrete approaches to problem solving, rather than abstract theory". Finally, their interests tend to focus on "scientific or mechanical rather than cultural and aesthetic areas".[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:

I: Investigative (Thinkers)

People who prefer to work with "ideas" They like to "think and observe rather than act, to organize and understand information rather than to persuade". They also prefer "individual rather than people oriented activities".[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:

A: Artistic (Creators)

People who like to work with "ideas and things". They tend to be "creative, open, inventive, original, perceptive, sensitive, independent and emotional". They rebel against "structure and rules", but enjoy "tasks involving people or physical skills". They tend to be more emotional than the other types.[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:

S: Social (Helpers)

People who like to work with "people" and who "seem to satisfy their needs in teaching or helping situations". They tend to be "drawn more to seek close relationships with other people and are less apt to want to be really intellectual or physical".[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:

E: Enterprising (Persuaders)

People who like to work with "people and data". They tend to be "good talkers, and use this skill to lead or persuade others". They "also value reputation, power, money and status".[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:

C: Conventional (Organizers)

People who prefer to work with "data" and who "like rules and regulations and emphasize self-control ... they like structure and order, and dislike unstructured or unclear work and interpersonal situations". They also "place value on reputation, power, or status".[19][20] Sample majors and careers include:


  1. ^ Campbell, David P.; Borgen, Fred H. (August 1, 1999). "Holland's Theory and the Development of Interest Inventories". Journal of Vocational Behavior. 55 (1): 86–101. doi:10.1006/jvbe.1999.1699. ISSN 0001-8791.
  2. ^ a b "John L. Holland, 1919–2008: A Select Bibliography added to the Tribute & Obituary". NCDA. November 2, 2008. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Development, Evolution, and Status of Holland's Theory of Vocational Personalities: Reflections and Future Directions for Counseling Psychology." Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 57(1), 2010, 11–22.
  4. ^ "O*NET OnLine: Interests". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  5. ^ Matthew, Mariana (1999). "Replace with a database: O*NET replaces the Dictionary of Occupational Titles" (PDF). Occupational Outlook Quarterly Online, Spring 1999 Vol. 43, Number 1. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  6. ^ Rounds, James Patrick (2008). "Second Generation Occupational Interest Profiles for the O*NET System: Summary" (PDF). The National Center for O*NET Development, June 2008. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  7. ^ Athanasou, James. "Obituary: John L. Holland 1919–2008" Australian Journal of Career Development, September 22, 2009.
  8. ^ "Holland Codes" (PDF). New Hampshire Employment Security, Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  9. ^ L., Holland, John (1997). Making vocational choices: a theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, Fla.: Psychological Assessment Resources. ISBN 0911907270. OCLC 36648506.
  10. ^ Johnson, John (June 1, 2013). "Selfless Service, Part II: Different Types of Seva". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  11. ^ "Award for distinguished scientific applications of psychology: John L. Holland". American Psychologist, Vol 63(8), Nov 2008, 672–674.
  12. ^ a b c Holland, John. Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Careers. (Prentice-Hall, 1973).
  13. ^ Prediger, Dale J (December 1982). "Dimensions underlying Holland's hexagon: Missing link between interests and occupations?". Journal of Vocational Behavior. 21 (3): 259–287. doi:10.1016/0001-8791(82)90036-7.
  14. ^ Prediger, Dale (February 1996). "Alternative Dimensions for the Tracey–Rounds Interest Sphere". Journal of Vocational Behavior. 48 (1): 59–67. doi:10.1006/jvbe.1996.0005.
  15. ^ Prediger, Dale J. (1999). "Basic structure of work-relevant abilities". Journal of Counseling Psychology. 46 (2): 173–184. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.46.2.173. ISSN 0022-0167.
  16. ^ Tracey, Terence J. G.; Rounds, James (1995). "The arbitrary nature of Holland's RIASEC types: A concentric-circles structure". Journal of Counseling Psychology. 42 (4): 431–439. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.42.4.431. ISSN 0022-0167.
  17. ^ a b Tracey, Terence J. G.; Watanabe, Naotaka; Schneider, Paul L. (October 1997). "Structural invariance of vocational interests across Japanese and American cultures". Journal of Counseling Psychology. 44 (4): 346–354. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.44.4.346. ISSN 1939-2168.
  18. ^ Tracey, Terence J.G.; Rounds, James (February 1996). "The Spherical Representation of Vocational Interests". Journal of Vocational Behavior. 48 (1): 3–41. doi:10.1006/jvbe.1996.0002.
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  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz "Delaware Department of Labor@Delaware Career Compass". State of Delaware. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
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  29. ^ a b "Summary Report for: 25-3099.02 – Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
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  33. ^ a b c "Summary Report for:27-3042.00 – Technical Writers". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  34. ^ a b c "Summary Report for:43-9081.00 – Proofreaders and Copy Markers". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Summary Report for: 25-3099.02 – Tutors". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  36. ^ a b Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
  37. ^ a b "Job Environment: Social". Rogue Community College. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  38. ^ a b c d e "Summary Report for:13-2052.00 – Personal Financial Advisors". ONET. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
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  41. ^ a b "Summary Report for - Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers". Occupational Information Network. Retrieved December 17, 2020.

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