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J Couns Psychol. 2016 Oct;63(5):604-615. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Vocational interests in the United States: Sex, age, ethnicity, and year effects.

Abstract

Vocational interests predict educational and career choices, job performance, and career success (Rounds & Su, 2014). Although sex differences in vocational interests have long been observed (Thorndike, 1911), an appropriate overall measure has been lacking from the literature. Using a cross-sectional sample of United States residents aged 14 to 63 who completed the Strong Interest Inventory assessment between 2005 and 2014 (N = 1,283,110), I examined sex, age, ethnicity, and year effects on work related interest levels using both multivariate and univariate effect size estimates of individual dimensions (Holland's Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional). Men scored higher on Realistic (d = -1.14), Investigative (d = -.32), Enterprising (d = -.22), and Conventional (d = -.23), while women scored higher on Artistic (d = .19) and Social (d = .38), mostly replicating previous univariate findings. Multivariate, overall sex differences were very large (disattenuated Mahalanobis' D = 1.61; 27% overlap). Interest levels were slightly lower and overall sex differences larger in younger samples. Overall sex differences have narrowed slightly for 18-22 year-olds in more recent samples. Generally very small ethnicity effects included relatively higher Investigative and Enterprising scores for Asians, Indians, and Middle Easterners, lower Realistic scores for Blacks and Native Americans, higher Realistic, Artistic, and Social scores for Pacific Islanders, and lower Conventional scores for Whites. Using Prediger's (1982) model, women were more interested in people (d = 1.01) and ideas (d = .18), while men were more interested in things and data. These results, consistent with previous reviews showing large sex differences and small year effects, suggest that large sex differences in work related interests will continue to be observed for decades. (PsycINFO Database Record.

PMID:
27505283
DOI:
10.1037/cou0000164
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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