An exploration of Holland's personality types and associated religious orientations



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Texas Tech University


John L. Holland has developed a comprehensive theory of personality types with broad empirical support. The primary application of the theory has been in the vocational realm, but the theory has implications for a variety of other domains including avocational interests, values, self-concept and religious orientation.

The present investigation examines relationships between Holland's personality styles and religious orientation. Religious orientation was operationalized by an integration of Gordon Allport's extrinsic and intrinsic religious orientations with Batson and Ventis' means, end, and quest orientations. Kreml's two-dimensional model of ideological style and cognitive style was utilized to account for associations between religious orientation and personality style. The ideological style dimension was measured by the Conservatism Scale (CS). The cognitive style dimension was assessed by the Dogmatism Scale (DS).

A 2x3 factorial MANOVA with religious orientation and gender as classification variables and Holland's personality styles as dependent variables demonstrated statistically significant main effects for religious orientation and gender. ANOVAs with comparison of means revealed that students with a quest orientation display more Artistic characteristics than students with an end orientation. Additionally, means oriented individuals display more Conventional attributes than quest oriented individuals.

CS was negatively correlated with Artistic personality style and positively correlated with the end orientation, suggesting that the Artistic style is manifested in the quest orientation by a rejection of traditional beliefs with a preference for an independent, creative search for answers. The association of the Conventional style with the means orientation appears to be based on an acceptance of traditional beliefs in conjunction with a preference for authority and structure. A positive correlation of DS with the means and end orientations links both of these approaches with a dogmatic cognitive style. The end orientation was associated with high religious interest, church attendance and a conservative outlook on life, in contrast to the quest orientation which reflected relatively less formal religious involvement and a more liberal outlook.

The majority of the sample reported that religious beliefs influenced educational/vocational decisions. The relevance of these findings for counseling and research was explored.