Person environment fit and vocational outcomes

Kerrie G. Wilkins, Terence Tracey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


Person—Environment fit (P-E fit) is a salient construct within vocational psychology (Parsons, Choosing a vocation, 1909). People are believed to do better and are more satisfied when there is a fit between the person and the characteristics of their occupational environment. There are many dimensions on which this matching can be done (e.g., abilities, needs, and values), but the most common is the congruence of interests with occupational environments (i.e., interest—occupation congruence). It is theorized that the greater the interest-occupational environment congruence, the greater the career outcomes such as satisfaction and productivity (Dawis and Lofquist, A psychological theory of work adjustment, 1984; Holland, Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments, 1997; Tracey and Robbins, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69:64—89, 2006). However, the literature on this relation has yielded equivocal results (Assouline and Meir, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 31:319—332, 1987; Spokane, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 26:306—343, 1985; Spokane et al., Journal of Vocational Behavior, 57:137—187, 2000; Tsabari et al., Journal of Career Assessment, 13:216—232, 2005). This has caused some to question the significance of the interest-occupational environment congruence (e.g., Arnold, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77:95—113, 2005; Tinsley, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 56:405’423, 2000) while others view the small to moderate relation as comparable to trait—behavior relations in the personality domain (Rounds and Tracey, Career counseling: Contemporary topics in vocational psychology, pp. 1—44, 1990; Spokane, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 26:306—343, 1985). The focus of this chapter is on reviewing the basic and most recent research on interest-occupational congruence, suggesting reasons for the discrepancy in this relation and examining empirically validated moderators of the congruence-career outcomes relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPsycho-Social Career Meta-Capacities
Subtitle of host publicationDynamics of Contemporary Career Development
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319006451
ISBN (Print)9783319006444
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Congruence-career outcome relation
  • Holland's theory
  • Interest-occupation congruence
  • Occupational choice
  • Occupational environment
  • Person-environment fit
  • RIASEC model
  • Vocational interests
  • Vocational types

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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