Skip to main content

History and Overview

The Holland Codes (RIASEC) is a personality system based around vocational and career choices meant to assist in the search for a career or identify a set of characteristics within someone based on underlying patterns within certain career preferences and choices, essentially using external occupational constructs as archetypes for identifying people. Its origins "can be traced to an article in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1958 and a subsequent article in 1959 that set out his theory of vocational choices. ... The basic premise was that one's occupational preferences were in a sense a veiled expression of underlying character."[1]

The RIASEC types went through a series of minor developments and name changes over time. In the beginning, there was motoric, intellectual, esthetic, supportive, persuasive, and conforming, which were later called Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders), and Conventional (Organizers). These six types are also what gives the model a hexagonal look and are what allow the system to be comprised of 720 different personality combinations, which is based on an ordering of how relatable each scheme is.

The current and most popular version of the RIASEC model is a combination of Holland's original work and Prediger's re-conceptualization of it. Before Prediger, each point on the hexagonal model completely defined it's respective factor, but Prediger proposed an added layer of depth. He saw that there was a disconnect between occupational prospects and simple labels, so he proposed 3 extra factors, 2 of them being bipolar dimensions (people-things and ideas-data), and the other being a general response bias, which is shown by laying a cross on the original model and labeling the points. This helped to redefine and clarify the apparent link between interest and vocational choice.

RIASEC Compared to Big Five




[1] Athanasou, James. "Obituary: John L. Holland 1919–2008Australian Journal of Career Development, September 22, 2009.

Written and maintained by PDB users for PDB users.