Definitions of the Different Personality Types

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The Realistic Type (R)

This personality type shows a definite preference for working with objects, tools and machinery. This leads to the mastering of manual skills, i.e. skills of a mechanical, agricultural, electrical and technical nature. As this personality type usually shows a clear aversion to educational, intellectual, social and creative activities, a lack of social, educational and verbal skills may be experienced. This type prefers occupations such as those of electricians, aircraft mechanics, plumbers, toolmakers, farmers and draughtsmen.

The Investigative Type (I)

The investigative type is characterised by a preference for the systematic investigation of the physical, biological and cultural phenomena. Consequently this leads to the mastery of scientific and mathematical skills. Careers preferred by the investigative type inter alia include those of physicist, biologist, mathematician, anthropologist and chemist.

The Artistic Type (A)

This type shows a preference for achieving his or her creativity in a free environment. This usually leads to mastery of artistic skills, irrespective of whether they relate to language, art, music or drama. Occupations relating to this type include those of actor/actress, interior decorator, musician and journal.

The Social Type (S)

The social type shows a definite preference for working with people, by forming and training them or by caring for them. Consequently this behavioural orientation leads to mastery of interpersonal and educational skills. Occupations that interest this type include nursing, education and social work.

The Enterprising Type (E)

This personality type shows a preference for manipulating people, for taking the lead and for acting in an enterprising manner in the business world or in public life. Such a behavioural orientation gives rise to the development of leadership skills, good interpersonal and persuasive abilities. Occupations generally chosen by the enterprising type include law, politics, sales and business.

The Conventional Type (C)

The conventional type shows a preference for ordered activity that includes the manipulation of data (for example, filing). This behavioural orientation results in the individual’s becoming adept in clerical, computational and routine tasks. This type prefers occupations such as accountancy, business, administrative and clerical work, and data punching.

Definitions of the Work Environments

Individuals seek work environments that offer them the opportunity to satisfy their unique interests, attitudes and values. An individual’s behaviour, occupational success, stability and satisfaction can be explained by the interaction between their personality traits and the environment. Using the same constructs, which he used to define the six personality types, Holland described six environment types, namely Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.

The Realistic environment

This environment is dominated by realistic personality types. Demands and opportunities are created within this environment for the orderly and systematic use of, for example, tools and machinery. This environment therefore promotes technical skills.

The Investigative environment

The predominant characteristic of this environment is the symbolic, systematic and creative investigation of physical, biological and cultural phenomena. Investigative personality types who primarily have scientific skills dominate this environment.

The Artistic environment

This environment is dominated by artistic personality types and demands free and unsystematic activities and skills (for example the creation of forms of art). Artistic skills are promoted in this environment.

The Social environment

The social personality type, who wishes to help, inform, train and develop other people, dominates this environment. Consequently social skills are generated, yielding a genial atmosphere.

The Enterprising environment

This environment sets demands and creates opportunities for the manipulation of other persons to achieve certain objectives. To achieve this, leadership skills are required. This means that the predominantly enterprising personality types prevail over this environment. A competitive atmosphere and high levels of tension are not uncommon in this environment.

The Conventional environment

The conventional environment demands the ordered and systematic manipulation of data (for example filing and record keeping) and is therefore dominated by the conventional personality type. Here conventional (computational, administrative, etc) skills are promoted. Individuals are expected to conform to set demands in this environment.

Understanding the following concepts:

Life Cycles

Many of the researchers working in the area of the stages and tasks of the biosocial life cycle have found that the major tasks are roughly correlated with age, probably because of biological changes and the powerful cultural norms about which is expected of people at different ages (Neugarten 1968). There is no easy way to summarise the vast series of events, which make up the total life cycle.

The first major stage – from adolescence to early thirties – is a period of getting away from home and establishing oneself in the adult world. One is building both a career and a family, and though one tends to very sure of oneself in those years, the commitments made are in fact somewhat provisional and will be reviewed by the person in the next two decades. There are many difficult tasks to be accomplished in this period, but it is also a period of high energy, enthusiasm and idealism, which make it easier for the person to cope. Read about Factors you should consider to understand the threat in your environment

The transition into the thirties is the first major time of reappraisal for most people. Ideals are reexamined and reestablished, provisional commitments are tested, and the person enters a period of either stabilisation or major redirection. The realities of the world of work, marriage, child rearing, and coping with financial and other responsibilities displace the ideals of the twenties, forcing a whole series of choices. As these choices are made, the person enters a period of more permanent lasting commitments, usually described as “settling down.”

In their late thirties or early forties most people face some kind of “midlife crisis.” Permanent commitments have now been made, and their consequences have to be assessed against the dreams, hopes, and ambitions of earlier times. What forces this self-confrontation is the recognition at some level of awareness of one’s own mortality, of the fact that one has already lived at least half of one’s life (Jacques, 1965; Rogers, 1974). The person now must not only continue to make choices, but also learn to live with the consequences of the choices made previously. As one accepts more responsibility for one’s own unique life, one again becomes more open to the outside world and to new inputs. People at this stage get to know their children as adolescents and adults, bringing first a revival of their own children as adolescents and adults, bringing first a revival of their own adolescent conflicts, but ultimately a newly worked -through balance based on more self-acceptance.

It is during the forties and early fifties that people have to cope with the consequences of the growth and departure of their own children. The change in role for the non-employed mother to potentially idle adult, the need to establish new patterns of intimacy between husband and wife as they discover that each other is all they have now that the children are departed.

As these problems are worked through, as self-acceptance and contentment grow, as people learn that their lives are really their own responsibility, there ensues a period of relative stability and contentment, usually associated with the fifties. The person mellows, warms up, values his or her old associations more than ever, but at the same time grows more troubled with the recognition of declining abilities, the intrusion of health problems, competition from younger people, and other symptoms of aging. There may come a feeling that time is running out and that whatever one is going to contribute must be contributed now. As the person levels off, he or she must also begin to prepare for retirement and the potential change in life-style that may result from changes in financial, social or health status.

The period of the sixties until death involves some major transitions. The most obvious one is retirement and the changes that may bring. For those who are well prepared financially, this transition appears to be manageable. It is more difficult for those, whose declining competence forces them into retirement, and/or those who must reduce their standard of living markedly during retirement. Health problems can become more acute, and the person is faced with the major traumas of the death of close friends or spouse. Whereas one has spent one’s life becoming independent, one now suddenly faces the possibility of once again becoming dependent. Death becomes a reality, the daily routine of life revolves increasingly around managing one’s physical health, and withdrawal into self -preoccupation becomes a major threat to the person because his or her needs for others may continue to be high.

If the person can work through the various tasks of old age, take stock of accomplishments, learn to value wisdom and experience more as actual skills and competencies decline, he or she can prepare for death with a feeling of integration and contentment. But the implication is clear – there are tasks to be accomplished right to the moment of death. There is never a time in the adult life cycle when the person can simply stop and coast. Instead, persons must learn throughout life to assess the tasks facing them and to cope with those tasks.

Career Cycles and Phases

The stages and tasks of the career cycle are closely related to those of the biosocial life cycle, because both are linked to age and cultural norms. One of the most important differences between the career cycle and the biosocial cycle is that everyone has a life, but not everyone has an occupational career. Furthermore, one generally has more influence over one’s career, and the career is more subject to external influences. Occupational careers can be aborted, truncated, changed, leveled off, and in other ways manipulated by the individual within the career and by the incentives, settings, and opportunities for the performance of that individual’s career. People can remain unemployed, change jobs, or level off in a fairly low-ranking position; or they may make mid-career shifts, abandoning one career at one stage in order to pick up another one at a much lower stage. Organisations can eliminate careers, as when technological changes make certain occupations obsolete or unnecessary; they can fail to promote someone, lay people off, or in other ways intervene unilaterally in the career of the employee.

To best summarise the career cycle one must take note that there is a period of time prior to entry into a career during which the child or adolescent gains self-insight and learns about the occupational options available. The key process during the pre-entry period of growth and exploration is the obtaining of valid information about oneself and occupations and the making of valid choices, which optimise one’s chances of both using one’s talents and achieving success and satisfaction.

Entry into the occupation or organisation is like growing up. On the one hand, the individual must be assertive, show initiative, and be willing to develop some area of skill, which will make a contribution. On the other hand, the individual must learn how to be subordinate, learn the ropes, and be willing to be the junior member who often must do the dirty work of the organisation. The ability to be both dependent and independent and to learn how to specialise in some area of contribution is the key to this early career stage.

As one obtains more permanent membership in the organisation and leaves the learner role, one begins the long period of making one’s contribution in some special area. The person must be prepared at this point in the career to become an expert in some area and to function effectively in that area without close supervision. Promotions and lateral moves across functional boundaries or parts of the organisation may occur, but the major issue is some kind of ultimate testing between the individual and the organisation of whether or not they can meet each other’s needs in the long run. In this stage, one must acquire self-confidence and the ability to judge one’s own performance and act independently and reliably. If the area of work remains challenging the person may well spend the rest of the career in that area in a craftsman, technical staff or independent contributor role. This stage ends symbolically with the granting of permanent membership, the crossing of the organisation’s major inclusion boundary.

As one ages and/or gains experience, one moves into mid-career, which is characterised by two major new issues, namely, how to utilise one’s experience and wisdom above and beyond one’s technical, specialist skills, and how to fulfill one’s own growing need to be a mentor to others.

Most people find that in the early career they have benefited in one way or another from the help, guidance, and support of more senior people in the organisation or occupation. As they move into mid-career, they find not only that they have emotional needs to become helpful and nurturing to others, but also that their acquired experience and wisdom draw some attention from younger members. Becoming a mentor is, therefore, a very natural mid-career outcome.

For many people there is a period of crisis during which a major reassessment must be made of how one is doing relative to one’s ambitions and how important work and/or their career is going to be in one’s total life space. As one recognises where one’s area of contribution is going to be, and as one recognises what one’s likely future in the organisation or occupation is likely to be, one has the basic information to rethink and reassess one’s total work situation in relation to more personal and family needs and requirements. This can be a traumatic period if the need of the family and those of the career conflict. Stress can result from the recognition that needs for money and security generated in the family can, in fact, not be met by the career. This forces the person to cut back in one area, or the other, or forcing all kinds of extra effort in the work area to meet family needs.

One other aspect of the mid-career crisis is the problem of how to remain up to date in one’s area of specialty or even whether to attempt to remain up to date in the face of rapidly changing knowledge, competition from better-trained younger people, and declining energy levels in oneself. For those people who can make their experience and more generalised knowledge pay off, or for those who move into administrative or managerial positions, this is less of a problem.

The later stages of the career are harder to summarise because so much depends on the kind of career being pursued, or the degree to which the person has moved toward managerial or leadership roles, and the interaction of all of these factors with personal and family issues. Working out one’s mentoring responsibilities and learning how to disengage when it is time to prepare for retirement are two common issues, which have to be confronted by everyone. How those issues are worked through will determine to a large extent the person’s ultimate degree of satisfaction with the career.

The age ranges for each stage are very broad, because people in different occupations move at different rates through the stages, and personal factors strongly influence the rate of movement as well. When and how people move through the various inclusion, hierarchical, and functional boundaries of an organisation will depend on that organisation’s career development processes, the degree of talent and motivation of the individual, situational factors of who is needed where at what time, and other even less predictable circumstances. In analysing career stages it is better to view them as broad sets of common issues and tasks that everyone faces in some form or another, rather than to attempt to link them systematically to particular ages or other life stages. It also follows that the actual interaction of career concerns with personal and family concerns is not easy to predict across a broad population. One will find patterns only within given occupations, socioeconomic levels and organisational settings.

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