Quality & Quantity 34: 103–110, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Measuring the Success of the Holland Hexagon
T. P. HUTCHINSON
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, N.S.W. 2109, Australia
Abstract. J. L. Holland’s approach to personality (and careers that are suitable for different per-
sonality types) involves scoring people on six personality measures and intercorrelating the six
scores; there is a hypothesis about the relative sizes of the ﬁfteen correlations. In the present pa-
per, some statistics are proposed for describing how well this hypothesis (and three variants of
it) matches an observed correlation matrix. These statistics are analogous to a correlation coefﬁ-
cient. A variables-in-common model is given that justiﬁes the most parsimonious of the hypotheses
Key words: personality structure, RIASEC hexagon, variables-in-common model, vocational
In the study of careers and of the personalities of people pursuing different careers,
one of the most important ideas in recent decades has been the Holland hexagon.
J. L. Holland (for example, 1992) has proposed a theory of six broad personal-
ity types. By means of a personality inventory, subjects may be scored on six
measures: R, I, A, S, E, and C (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising,
and conventional). Occupations may also be classiﬁed in this way, and some are
considered to be more appropriate for people scoring highly on A, others are more
appropriate for people scoring highly on C, and so on.
From the personality inventory scores, correlations (usually positive in sign)
between the six measures may be obtained. An example is the ﬁrst part of Table I,
to be discussed below. The “Holland hexagon” refers to the pattern of magnitudes
of these – the 15 correlations fall into three sets: RI = IA = AS = SE = EC = CR (=
, say), and RS = IE = AC (call this
is the biggest and r
the smallest. (For brevity, RI has been written for the
, and so on.) Thus we can imagine R, I, A, S, E, and C (in that order)
being the six corners of a regular hexagon – the ﬁrst set of correlations is large
because each pair of personality types is adjacent on the hexagon (the two types
are relatively similar), the second set of correlations is smaller because each pair of