Structure of Interests and Competence Perceptions

Authored by: Terence J. G. Tracey , Sandro M. Sodano

Handbook of Vocational Psychology

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415808170
eBook ISBN: 9780203143209
Adobe ISBN: 9781136500008


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The structure of vocational interests has been and continues to be an important topic in the field of vocational psychology. This topic deals specifically with the theoretical as well as empirical aspects of representing the constructs of vocational interests and more recently competence perceptions as well. In this chapter, we present a summary of the literature on the structure of interests and related competence perceptions. Our review of the literature begins with defining vocational interests within the context of Person–Environment Fit and J. L. Holland’s (1985a, 1997) theory of work personality. We describe the general two-dimensional model of interests and its extension to the three-dimensional sphere model. Our focus is on interests first and then on interests and parallel competencies, with an emphasis on structural validity. Structural validity is a specific yet extremely important aspect of construct validity, particularly for interests and competencies. After summarizing advancements in the research on the structure of interests and competence perceptions, we also provide a summary of the generalization of the structure across groups based on gender, ethnicity, age, and nationality, along with the development of interests. We also briefly include within this chapter two areas where the research we present on the structure of interests and competencies has been applied: the assessment of Person–Environment Fit and the interpretation of assessment results.

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