2013. Vol.4, No.12, 985-993
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 985
The Relationship between Vocational Personalities
and Character Strengths in Adults
Hadassah Littman-Ovadia1, Yotam Potok1, Willibald Ruch2
1Department of Behavioral Sciences and Psychology, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel
2University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Received August 18th, 2013; revised September 17th, 2013; accepted October 15th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Hadassah Littman-Ovadia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
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provided the original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all
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The relationship between vocational personalities and character strengths, and the contribution of both to
life satisfaction were tested in an online sample of 302 Israeli adults. Hierarchical regressions indicated
that love of learning explained 9.8% of the investigative personality, creativity and appreciation of beauty
explained 19.6% of the artistic personality, zest and spirituality explained 14% of the social personality,
and creativity explained 7.9% of enterprising personality. A bootstrapping procedure revealed that hope
and gratitude fully mediated the association of social personality with life satisfaction. The theoretical and
practical implications of the study findings for career counseling and development are discussed.
Keywords: Vocational Personalities; Character Strengths; Life Satisfaction; Hope; Gratitude
The Relationship between Vocational
Personalities and Character Strengths in Adults
Holland’s (1997) theory of vocational personalities is cer-
tainly one of the most prevalent theories in vocational psy-
chology. He suggested that people can be characterized in terms
of their similarity to each six personality types (Realistic,
Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional),
collected referred as the RIASEC types. The more similar an
individual is to each type, the more frequently that person will
exhibit the talents and traits of that type. Both individuals and
their environments vary in their relation to the six types, and
can be characterized by resemblance to each of the six types or
by their three most dominant types (3-letter Holland code).
Peterson and Seligman’s (2004) theory of character streng-
ths suggested that daily deployment of character strengths pro-
mote optimal human functioning in the full array of life do-
mains. Strengths are durable positive individual characteristics;
represent what a person can do and is able to be; strengths have
moral value and are acquired and developed dynamically; and
most people are characterized by specific strengths (Peterson &
Seligman, 2004). Character strengths might also have relevance
to work—a substantial area of human life which provides
relatively vast opportunities for fulfilling individuals’ potential
and for achieving a sense of purpose and meaning in life (Ryan
& Deci, 2001). For this reason it is interesting to study the
relationship between vocational personalities and character
Vocational Personalities
According to Holland’s theory, people are attracted to work
environments whose features fit their vocational personalities.
Agreement between a person’s vocational personality and his or
her work environment is described as congruence. Holland also
represented degrees of consistency by displaying each of the six
types in a two-dimensional hexagonal structure. Individuals
whose first two letters of their Holland code are proximal to
each other on the hexagon are expected to be more consistent
than individuals described by types that are further apart.
Holland’s (1997) concept of differentiation states that people
who resemble a single type will have a distinct profile and have
an easier time making career choices.
The realistic type is described as an asocial, conforming,
frank, genuine, hardheaded, inflexible, materialistic, natural,
normal, persistent, practical, self-effacing, thrifty, uninsightful
and uninvolved. The investigative type is described as ana-
lytical, cautious, complex, critical, curious, independent, inte-
llectual, introspective, pessimistic, rational, reserved, retiring,
unassuming, unpopular and precise. The artistic type is descri-
bed as complicated, disorderly, emotional, expressive, idealistic,
impractical, impulsive, independent, introspective, intuitive,
nonconforming, open, original and sensitive. The social type is
described as ascendant, cooperative, empathic, friendly, ge-
nerous, helpful, idealistic, kind, patient, persuasive, responsible,
sociable, tactful, understanding and warm. The enterprising
type is described as acquisitive, adventurous, agreeable, am-
bitious, domineering, energetic, excitement seeking, exhibi-
tionistic, extroverted, flirtatious, optimistic, self-confident, so-
ciable and talkative. Finally, the conventional type is described
as careful, conforming, conscientious, defensive, efficient,
inflexible, inhibited, methodical, obedient, orderly, persistent,
practical, prudish, thrifty, unimaginative (Holland, Fritzsche, &
Powell, 1994). To assess individual differences in the RIASEC,
Holland developed the Self-Directed Search inventory (SDS;
Holland et al., 1994).
Holland’s RIASEC has been found to be related to theo-
retically predictable ways to the Big Five personality dimen-
sions. Gottfredson, Jones, and Holland (1993) found that social
and enterprising vocational personality was positively co-
rrelated with extraversion; investigative and artistic persona-
lity was positively correlated with openness; and conventional
personality was correlated with conscientiousness. A more re-
cent meta-analysis of RIASEC/Big Five relations supported
positive associations between pairs of personalities and Big
Five factors (social/extraversion and agreeableness, enter-
prising/extraversion, investigative/openness and artistic/open-
ness), although this analysis did not support the conven-
tional/conscientiousness association (Larson, Rottinghaus, &
Borgen, 2002).
Character S trengths
Character strengths are “… positive traits reflected in
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They exist in degrees and can
be measured as individual differences” (Park, Peterson, &
Seligman, 2004, p. 603). Based on a comprehensive literature
review and professional consensus, Peterson and Seligman
(2004) developed a classification of character strengths. Their
classification, called Values In Action (VIA), includes 24
character strengths and each related to one of the following six
broader virtues: a) the virtue of wisdom and knowledge
includes the strengths of creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness,
love of learning, perspective; b) the virtue of courage includes
the strengths of bravery, integrity, persistence, zest; c) the
virtue of humanity includes the strengths of kindness, love,
social intelligence; d) the virtue of justice includes the strengths
of fairness, leadership, teamwork); e) the virtue of temperance
includes the strengths of forgiveness, modesty, prudence,
self-regulation; and f) the virtue of transcendence includes the
strengths of appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor,
spirituality. To assess individual differences in the 24 VIA
strengths in adults, Peterson, Park, and Seligman (2005)
developed the Values in Action-Inventory of Strengths (VIA-
Peterson and Seligman (2004) acknowledged that there are
some clear theoretical correspondences between strengths and
personality traits, as reflected in the Big Five personality
dimensions. Recently, character strengths have been found to
be related in theoretically predictable ways to the Big Five
personality dimensions. Specifically, appreciation of beauty,
love of learning, creativity and curiosity were highly asso-
ciated with openness; teamwork and kindness were highly
associated with agreeableness; and persistence, self-re-gulation,
honesty, fairness and forgiveness were highly associated with
conscientiousness (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2012).
Aims of the Study
Expected relationships between vocational personalities and
character strengths stem both from similarities in their theo-
retical descriptions and from previous studies, mentioned above,
which have found relationships between vocational per-
sonalities and personality dimensions on the one hand, and
between character strengths and personality dimensions on the
other. However, only one study to date (Proyer, Sidler, Weber,
& Ruch, 2012) examined, among adolescents, the relationships
between Holland’s vocational personalities and Values In
Action (VIA) strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004); An
examination of these relations among adults is lacking.
A better understanding of the relationships between voca-
tional personalities and character strengths is needed for both
theoretical and practical reasons. Recently, Harzer and Ruch
(2012, in press) provided initial evidence that congruence be-
tween job demands and personal strengths might play a role in
a variety of positive experiences at work (job satisfaction,
pleasure, engagement, and meaning). Thus, “strength-related
congruence” is important, similar to Holland’s “personalities-
related congruence” and strengths might be added to the list of
characteristics that needs consideration when understanding and
counseling for greater job satisfaction. This raises a question on
the overlap between vocational personalities and character
strengths. A better understanding of the relationships between
vocational personalities and strengths may also have several
practical implications, as suggested by Proyer et al. (2012).
First, it may be useful to understand these relationships when
working with clients on their strengths or for facilitating career
decision-making processes. Second, it may be beneficial to
clients to consider the fit between strengths derived from a
well-established classification scheme and preferences for
vocations in the counseling process (e.g., social intelligence or
kindness and social vocational personality). Third, vocational
personalities strengths congruence is relevant for placement
decisions and consequences, and a focus on employees’ streng-
ths may facilitate work engagement and elicit positive emo-
The present study was designed to explore the relationships
between vocational personalities and character strengths. More
specifically, we hypothesized the following associations: rea-
listic/persistence, investigative/love of learning, curiosity and
prudence, artistic/creativity and beauty, social/social intelli-
gence, kindness, love, teamwork, gratitude, hope and zest,
enterprising/bravery, leadership, hope and zest.
The present study was designed also to test the combined
contribution of vocational personalities and character streng-
ths to life satisfaction, a central component of subjective well-
being (SWB), which has been a fundamental human concern
since as early as the sixth century B.C., when Greek thinkers
studied human flourishing or living well (“eudemonia”).
Interest in life satisfaction has continued to the present day,
under a variety of terms and methodologies (e.g., Diener,
Eunkook, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, &
Schkade, 2005). More recently, the study of life satisfaction has
focused on its relationship to personality, which was found to
be one of its foremost predictors (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998;
Steel, Schmidt, & Shultz, 2008). In an attempt to explain why
personality is important for understanding life satisfaction,
Steel et al (2008) suggested that personality helps explain the
happiness-income paradox, or why life satisfaction remains sta-
ble or even declines in countries or people who become very
Research in the field of personality indicates that certain
dimensions of personality are related to life satisfaction.
Specifically, higher levels of extraversion and agreeableness
have been linked to greater life satisfaction (DeNeve & Cooper,
1998; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2003). While a relationship has
been found between life satisfaction and most character
strengths (e.g., Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2012; Peterson &
Seligman, 2004; Ruch, Proyer, Harzer, Park, Peterson, &
Seligman, 2010), life satisfaction has been rarely linked to
Open Access
vocational personalities, although there is a large body of
literature linking extraversion and agreeableness to social per-
sonality (Barrick, Mount, & Gupta, 2003; Gottfredson et al.,
1993; Larson et al., 2002), and although there is also evidence
from the studies of the meaning in life and from studies of
positive interventions that love is strongly related to life
satisfaction (e.g., Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, 2011) and that doing
something for others or for a higher good is gratifying and
fosters life satisfaction (Peterson, 2006). Social personality
entails love and doing good for others; due to this small overlap
a small positive association between social personality and life
satisfaction can be expected. However, in the only research that
tested direct associations between Holland’s vocational per-
sonalities and life satisfaction, regardless of the level of con-
gruence between vocational personalities and environment
type (Cotter & Fouad, 2011), no significant correlations were
Considering the large body of literature linking extraversion
and agreeableness to social personality, which includes love
and doing good for others (Larson et al., 2002) on one hand,
and to life satisfaction (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998; Diener et al.,
2003) on the other hand, we aimed to reexamine the hypothesis
concerning a direct link between social personality and life
satisfaction. Furthermore, we also aimed to explore, for the first
time, if certain character strengths mediated the social per-
sonality-life satisfaction association.
Although positive psychology assumes that the enactment of
any character strength is fulfilling (Peterson & Seligman, 2004),
past research shows that certain character strengths are more
robustly correlated with life satisfaction than others. Spe-
cifically, studies have shown that the five character strengths
most strongly related to life satisfaction are love, hope, gra-
titude, curiosity, and zest (e.g., Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2012;
Park et al., 2004; Park & Peterson, 2008). Moreover, these
strengths foreshadowed life satisfaction measured months later,
even when controlling for initial levels of strengths (Park &
Peterson, 2008). We hypothesized that the association between
social personality and life satisfaction is mediated by four of
these character strengths (love, hope, gratitude, and zest).
Curiosity was not included in our mediation hypothesis because
curiosity was not hypothesized to be associated with the social
personality (Holland et al., 1994).
The study surveyed 302 Jewish Israeli individuals (99 men,
203 women), whose ages ranged from 18 to 67 years (Mean =
33.16, SD = 11.57). Of the participants, 137 (45.4%) were
married, 127 (42.1%) were single, 27 (8.9%) were divorced,
and 11 (3.6%) were widowed.
The VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS; Peterson &
Selig- man, 2004). The Hebrew version of the VIA-IS was used
in this study (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2012). This instrument
assesses 24 character strengths. Each strength is evaluated by
10 items, creating a total of 240 items (e.g., “Being able to
come up with new and different ideas is one of my strong
points” for creativity; “I never quit a task before it is done” for
persistence). Participants rate the extent to which each item
describes them on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at
all) to 5 (very much). Scale scores were averaged across items,
yielding 24 scores for each participant, representing partici-
pants’ ratings of each of the 24 strengths. In the current study,
scale reliabilities were satisfactory for all 24 subscales (Cron-
bach’s alphas ranged from 0.70 to 0.87).
The Self-Directed Search inventory (SDS; Holland et al.,
1994). The Hebrew version of the SDS was used in this study
(Meir & Hasson, 1982). This instrument assesses vocational
personalities by activities, competencies and occupations repre-
sent RIASEC personality types. The total score for each type
(ranging from 0 to 36) reflects the degree to which a respondent
resembles the respective prototype personality. In the current
study, scale reliabilities ranged from 0.85 to 0.92.
The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons,
Larsen, & Griffen, 1985). The Hebrew version of the SWLS
was used in this study (Anaby, Jarus, & Zumbo, 2009). This
instrument assesses respondent’s global level of satisfaction.
Participants rate their agreement with five statements (e.g., “So
far, I have gotten the important things I want in life”) on a scale
from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Overall scores
range from 5 (extremely dissatisfied) to 35 (extremely satisfied).
The coefficient alpha for the current study was 0.90.
Procedure and Data Collection
We obtained our data from randomly selected community-
based participants through online electronic mail and social
networks. The electronic message included a cover letter and a
link to an electronic survey. Participants completed the ques-
tionnaires voluntarily, after they completed the informed con-
sent form and noted their interest to receive optional indi-
vidual feedback on their profile of personalities and character
strengths. All data were collected online.
Contact information (e-mail) was given in case of any ques-
stions. The average time to complete the questionnaires was 60
In order to assess gender differences on personalities, char-
acter strengths, and life satisfaction we used effect size as sug-
gested by Cohen (1992). To assess the impact of age, correla-
tions were computed (see Table 1). Results from effect size
calculations revealed non negligible mean differences in several
variables. Women scored higher than men on persistence, hon-
esty, kindness, love, teamwork, prudence, appreciation of beau-
ty, gratitude, spirituality, modesty, forgiveness, and subjective
well-being. Men scored higher than women on realistic, invest-
tigative and conventional vocational personalities. Furthermore,
negative associations with age were found for spirituality and
social vocational personality. Consequently, we controlled for
age and gender in our regression analyses.
Associations of Vocational Personalities with
Character Strengths an d Life Sati sfaction
We computed Pearson correlations of the six personalities
with the 24 character strengths (see Table 2). Most, but not all,
of these correlations are negligible (r < 0.10) or small (r <
esults show that Realistic personality was associated with
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Open Access
Table 1.
Means, standard deviations, Pearson correlations with age and gender differences of character strengths, vocational interests and SWLS.
Total Man Women Difference
Scale M SD Age M SD M SD d
Love of Learning 3.82 0.60 0.16** 3.86 0.54 3.79 0.63 -
Curiosity 4.00 0.56 0.13* 4.02 0.54 3.99 0.57 -
Open Mindedness 3.93 0.50 0.00 3.88 0.53 3.95 0.49 -
Creativity 3.76 0.69 0.08 3.83 0.66 3.72 0.70 -
Social Intelligence 3.90 0.51 0.07 3.83 0.55 3.93 0.48 -
Perspective 4.02 0.48 0.08 3.99 0.46 4.03 0.49 -
Bravery 3.67 0.51 0.07 3.70 0.55 3.65 0.48 -
Persistence 3.60 0.66 0.01 3.47 0.74 3.67 0.62 0.29
Honesty 3.94 0.50 0.02 3.85 0.49 3.99 0.51 0.27
Kindness 3.95 0.60 0.05 3.82 0.74 4.01 0.51 0.27
Love 3.96 0.57 -0.08 3.81 0.62 4.03 0.53 0.38
Teamwork 3.73 0.57 0.04 3.63 0.53 3.78 0.53 0.28
Fairness 3.94 0.59 0.10 3.88 0.67 3.97 0.56 -
Leadership 3.67 0.53 0.02 3.59 0.54 3.71 0.51 -
Self-Regulation 3.37 0.58 0.01 3.28 0.57 3.42 0.58 -
Prudence 3.50 0.59 0.02 3.36 0.51 3.56 0.57 0.36
Appreciation of Beauty 3.67 0.68 0.02 3.49 0.67 3.75 0.68 0.38
Gratitude 3.90 0.62 0.11* 3.66 0.69 4.02 0.55 0.57
Hope 3.75 0.61 0.05 3.66 0.64 3.80 0.59 -
Spirituality 3.69 0.83 0.28*** 3.37 0.86 3.85 0.76 0.59
Modesty 3.38 0.71 0.02 3.22 0.75 3.46 0.67 0.34
Humor 3.74 0.61 0.02 3.72 0.60 3.75 0.62 -
Zest 3.84 0.56 0.01 3.77 0.58 3.87 0.55 -
Forgiveness 3.63 0.63 0.05 3.47 0.67 3.71 0.59 0.38
Realistic 13.28 7.2 0.05 16.85 7.4 11.54 6.5 0.76
Investigative 15.68 8.5 0.06 18.06 8.5 14.52 8.3 0.42
Artistic 20.07 8.8 0.10 18.96 8.4 20.62 8.6 -
Social 23.65 6.6 0.24*** 23.10 7.2 23.91 6.5 -
Enterprising 17.15 7.8 0.02 18.52 8.4 16.48 7.5 -
Conventional 13.76 6.1 0.02 15.07 6.4 13.13 5.8 0.31
SWLS 5.13 1.2 0.00 4.9 1.3 5.23 1.1 0.25
Note: N = 302 (man = 99; coded as 0, women = 203; coded as 1). M mean, SD standard deviation, d’ Cohen’s d. All negligible d’ values were omitted. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01.
***p < 0.001.
love of learning, curiosity, creativity, bravery, prudence, grati-
tude and modesty; investigative personality was associated with
love of learning and curiosity, open mindedness, creativity,
bravery, and modesty; Artistic personality was associated with
love of learning, curiosity, creativity, social intelligence, per-
spective, bravery, kindness, love, teamwork, fairness, leader-
ship, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, spirituality, humor,
zest and forgiveness; Social personality was associated with
love of learning, curiosity, creativity, social intelligence, per-
spective, bravery, kindness, love, teamwork, fairness, leader-
ship, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, spirituality, humor,
zest and forgiveness; Enterprising personality was associated
with love of learning, curiosity, creativity, social intelligence,
bravery, persistence, leadership, self regulation, modesty and
zest; Conventional personality was associated with social intel-
ligence and self regulation. Hypothesis 1 was supported.
Apart from Conventional personality, which had a very small
negative association with life satisfaction (see Table 2), Social
personality was the only personality associated with life satis-
faction. Therefore, Hypothesis 2 was fully supported.
Explainin g Vocation al Personaliti e s fr om Character
To explore the strongest contributors of those vocational per-
sonalities found to be correlated with strengths, four multiple
hierarchical regression analyses were conducted with in-
vestigative, artistic, social and enterprising personalities as
dependent variables (realistic and conventional personalities
were excluded due to small, r < 0.20, direct associations with
strengths). In each analysis, the dependant variable was
explained by entering age and gender in the first step of the
regression (method: enter), to control for potential effects of
demographics; in the second step, the strengths found to be
Table 2.
Pearson correlations between character strengths, vocational interests and SWLS.
Realistic Investigative Artistic Social Enterprising Conventional SWLS
Love of Learning 0.15** 0.30*** 0.30*** 0.20*** 0.21*** 0.10 0.20***
Curiosity 0.12* 0.24*** 0.33*** 0.20*** 0.13* 0.01 0.25***
Open Mindedness 0.03 0.14** 0.14* 0.10 0.08 0.07 0.15**
Creativity 0.18** 0.17** 0.34*** 0.15** 0.29*** 0.00 0.14**
Social Intelligence 0.10 0.08 0.23*** 0.19*** 0.13* 0.13* 0.25***
Perspective 0.10 0.09 0.19*** 0.13* 0.05 0.04 0.24***
Bravery 0.15** 0.12* 0.27*** 0.16** 0.16** 0.03 0.14**
Persistence 0.07 0.05 0.09 0.08 0.19*** 0.05 0.19***
Honesty 0.03 0.03 0.00 0.02 0.06 0.06 0.22***
Kindness 0.03 0.03 0.19*** 0.29*** 0.05 0.03 0.31***
Love 0.05 0.04 0.21*** 0.24*** 0.06 0.02 0.31***
Teamwork 0.10 0.04 0.11* 0.20*** 0.10 0.02 0.24***
Fairness 0.02 0.03 0.11* 0.17** 0.00 0.02 0.21***
Leadership 0.03 0.01 0.22*** 0.22*** 0.13* 0.02 0.25***
Self-Regulation 0.08 0.04 0.04 0.08 0.11* 0.11* 0.24***
Prudence 0.12* 0.01 0.10 0.02 0.08 0.06 0.21***
Appreciation of Beauty 0.03 0.03 0.37*** 0.27*** 0.04 0.06 0.20***
Gratitude 0.11* 0.07 0.29*** 0.28*** 0.01 0.10 0.41***
Hope 0.01 0.05 0.20*** 0.24*** 0.08 0.01 0.44***
Spirituality 0.11* 0.07 0.24*** 0.35*** 0.06 0.08 0.26***
Modesty 0.08 0.11* 0.10 -0.04 0.16** 0.04 0.17**
Humor 0.01 0.04 0.23*** 0.17** 0.09 0.01 0.24***
Zest 0.07 0.00 0.29*** 0.30*** 0.20*** 0.04 0.36***
Forgiveness 0.04 0.06 0.18** 0.16** 0.02 0.04 0.25***
SWLS 0.05 0.08 0.09 0.25*** 0.04 0.12* 1
Note: N = 302. SWLS satisfaction with life scale. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. ***p < 0.001.
correlated with the dependant variable were entered into the
equation (method: stepwise). As can be observed from Table 2,
some of the character strengths share their variance with several
personalities and were entered into more than one regression
analysis. Accordingly, we checked for problems associated
with multi-collinearity on all four analyses. Furthermore, re-
sults yielded significant contributions only after Bonferroni
correction. Table 3 shows that age, gender and love of learning
explained 15.4% of the variance of investigative personality;
Appreciation of beauty and creativity explained 20.9% of the
variance of the artistic personality; Age, zest and spirituality
explained 20.1% of the variance of the social personality; and
creativity explained 9.8% of the variance of enterprising.
Do Love, Gratitude, Hope and Zest Mediate the
Association between Social Personality and Life
A multiple mediation model procedure, following Preacher
and Hayes (2008), was performed to examine a mediation link
between social personality and life satisfaction (Hypothesis 3).
In this procedure, the progression from one step to the next is
contingent on obtaining significant results in the preceding step.
The first step requires that the independent variable associates
with the dependent variable. When entered into a regression
analysis, social personality significantly predicted life satis-
faction (β = 0.25). The second step requires the independent
variable to associate with the mediating variables. Results of
the regression analyses show that social personality predicts all
mediators: love, hope, gratitude and zest (β = 0.24, 0.24, 0.28
and 0.30, respectively). The third step requires the mediators to
associate with the outcome variable. Regression analyses
showed that gratitude and hope were significantly associated
with life satisfaction (β = 0.21 and 0.28, respectively). Love
and zest showed no significant association with life satisfaction
and were therefore excluded from further analyses. The fourth
step requires the mediation paths to be significant. For this step,
we used an accelerated-bias-corrected-bootstrap analysis proce-
dure (Preacher & Hayes, 2008). This procedure examines whe-
ther an indirect path is significantly different from 0, by pro-
ducing a confidence interval (CI) for the indirect effect, in this
case, with a confidence level of 95%. A mediation path is sig-
nificant when the CI does not include 0. The bootstrap analysis
revealed that the mediation paths from social personal- ity
through gratitude (0.01 - 0.21 CI) and hope (0.04 - 0.25 CI) to
life satisfaction were significant (see Figure 1). The final step
tests whether the direct association between the independ- ent
and the dependent variables remains significant (indicating
partial mediation) or loses significance entirely (indicating full
mediation). Analysis shows that hope and gratitude fully medi-
ate the association between social vocational personality and
life satisfaction. When we controlled for hope and gratitude,
there was no direct association between social personality and
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Table 3.
Regression coefficients predicting vocational personality types from character strengths.
B SE B β R R2 F R2 F
Investigative Interests
Step1 0.24 0.056*** 8.89
Age 0.11 0.04 0.14**
Gender 4.5 1.1 0.25***
Step 2 0.39 0.154*** 18.14 0.098*** 34.65
Age 0.14 0.04 0.19***
Gender 4.5 1.0 0.25***
Love of learning 4.5 0.76 0.32***
Artistic Interests
Step1 0.11 0.013 1.96
Age 0.06 0.05 0.08
Gender 1.1 1.1 0.06
Step 2 0.46 0.209*** 19.65 0.196*** 36.87
Age 0.08 0.04 0.11*
Gender 0.33 1.1 0.02
Beauty 3.8 0.71 0.29***
Creativity 3.4 0.70 0.27***
Social Interests
Step1 0.25 0.061*** 9.64
Age 0.15 0.03 0.26***
Gender 0.45 0.84 0.03
Step 2 0.45 0.201*** 18.69 0.14*** 26.11
Age 0.12 0.03 0.21***
Gender 1.5 0.80 0.10
Zest 2.8 0.64 0.24***
Spirituality 2.0 0.46 0.24***
Enterprising Interests
Step1 0.14 0.019 2.93
Age 0.05 0.04 0.07
Gender 2.4 1.0 0.15*
Step 2 0.31 0.098*** 10.79 0.089*** 26.0
Age 0.06 0.04 0.09
Gender 2.2 0.98 0.13*
Creativity 3.2 0.63 0.28***
Note: N = 302. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. ***p < 0.001.
life satisfaction (β = 0.12, p = ns). Overall, social personality
explained 23.8% of the life satisfaction variance through direct
and indirect paths (F (4, 297) = 23.22, p < 0.001). Therefore,
Hypothesis 3 was fully supported.
This is the first study on the relationship between Holland’s
(1997) vocational personalities and the Values In Action classi-
fication of character strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004)
using an adult sample. The single previous study that offers
empirical data on the relationship between Holland’s types and
VIA strengths was of adolescents (using the VIA-Youth Inven-
tory of Strengths) and the strengths were mainly tested at the
level of the five broader strength factors.
In the present study, associations were found between all six
vocational personalities and 23 of the 24 character strengths.
Most, but not all, of these correlations are negligible (r < 0.10)
or small (r < 0.30). Realistic personality was not associated
with persistence. In fact, associations between realistic and
conventional personalities to character strengths yielded only
negligible (r < 0.10) or small (r < 0.30) results, and these re-
sults were consistent with previous findings among adolescents
(Proyer et al., 2012). Proyer et al. (2012) explained that the
weakest relationships with strengths were expected for real-
istic and conventional personalities since interest in manual and
office-related occupations seems unrelated to a person’s streng-
ths expression. Investigative personality was associated with
love of learning and curiosity, as hypothesized, although not
with prudence. In a regression analysis, controlling for the ef-
fects of age and gender, 9.8% of the variance of the investiga-
tive personality was predicted by love of learning, very similar
Open Access
Figure 1.
A multiple mediation model of social personality and life satisfaction
through gratitude and hope. Note. Coefficients from bootstrap proce-
dure are provided along the paths. Coefficients when controlling for the
mediating variables are provided in parentheses. ***p < 0.001.
to the overlapping variance of investigative personality and
intellectual strengths found in Swiss adolescents (Proyer et al.,
2012). Artistic personality was associated with creativity and
beauty, as hypothesized, but also with 13 other strengths. Social
personality was associated with social intelligence, kindness,
love, teamwork, gratitude, hope and zest, as hypothesized, but
also with six other strengths. In regression analyses, controlling
for age and gender, artistic and social personalities were found
to be with the highest overlapping variances with strengths
(19.6% and 14%, respectively). Artistic personality was best
explained by creativity and appreciation of beauty, while sur-
prisingly, social personality was best explained by zest and spi-
rituality. Spirituality is included in the transcendence strengths
factor (e.g., hope, gratitude), which together with the other-
directed factor (e.g., kindness, teamwork) was found to explain
11% of social personality variance (Proyer et al., 2012). Enter-
prising personality was associated with zest, as hypothesized,
but not with bravery, leadership and hope. Unexpectedly, en-
terprising was associated also with creativity, love of learning
and persistence. In regression analysis, controlling for age and
gender, enterprising was best explained by creativity (7.9%
overlapping variance). Overall, there seems to be an overlap
between virtuousness and investigative, artistic, social and en-
terprising personalities. Neither conventional nor realistic per-
sonalities were explained by any of the strengths scales.
We also found, for the first time, a positive association of
Holland’s social personality with life satisfaction. Although
previous studies and meta-analyses have indicated that person-
ality traits are one of the best predictors of life satisfaction (e.g.,
Steel et al., 2008), only one study examined personality using
Holland’s (1997) RIASEC conceptualization (Cotter & Fouad,
2011). Steel et al. (2008) suggested examining the impact of
major personality dimensions rather than specific traits, when
examining the relationship with life satisfaction. Vocational
personalities, which include multiple traits, can be considered
major personality dimensions. In the current study, social per-
sonality was associated with 13 different strengths, all of which
were also associated with life satisfaction. The moderate posi-
tive association of Holland’s social personality with life satis-
faction, which we found, can be indirectly supported by re-
search findings suggesting associations between Holland’s
social personality to extraversion and agreeableness (Barrick et
al., 2003; Gottfredson et al., 1993). Higher levels of extraver-
sion and agreeableness have been linked to greater life satisfac-
tion (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998; Diener et al., 2003).
Notable is the difference between social and artistic person-
alities, which both had associations with strengths that are most
strongly related to life satisfaction, but only social personality
was found to have a direct relation with life satisfaction. While
social and artistic personalities apparently share their variance
with strengths associated with life satisfaction, an important
characteristic that potentially links artistic personality to life
satisfaction was not found. Social personality is associated with
extraversion (Barrick et al., 2003; Gottfredson et al., 1993).
Individuals high in extraversion as in social personality tend to
be highly sociable, friendly and optimistic. Individuals high in
artistic personality, tend to be complicated, disorderly, impul-
sive, independent, introspective, intuitive, nonconforming, open,
original and sensitive. These characteristics relate to openness
rather than to extraversion (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Spokane &
Cruza-Guet, 2005).
We also found that the association between social personality
and life satisfaction is fully mediated by the two most satisfied
strengths: hope and gratitude. Our results suggest that the vari-
ance shared by social personality and life satisfaction is medi-
ated by hope and gratitude. Therefore, we suggest that indi-
viduals high in social personality, who are described as being
sociable, friendly and optimistic, can achieve life satisfaction
by endorsing gratitude (being aware of and thankful for the
good things that occur in life, taking time to express thanks)
and hope (expecting the best in the future and working to
achieve it, believing that a good future is something that can be
brought about). In other words, the social person achieves life
satisfaction through a positive view of her past, present (grati-
tude), and future (hope).
Theoretical and Practical Contribution and
The main theoretical contribution of this study is in linking
Holland’s well-established vocational theory with the promis-
ing VIA strengths theory and positive psychology. This link
enhances both the field of vocational counseling and the field of
positive psychology by offering a wider perspective on voca-
tional personality and on “good character” in general. The
combination of the longstanding RIASEC model and the rela-
tively new VIA-IS model offers a more comprehensive founda-
tion for understanding and designing interventions in the field
of work and career. As postmodern vocational counseling em-
phasizes the importance of change and adaptation, on both the
individual and the environmental level (Savickas, 2011), adopt-
ing the character strengths model allows counselors to assume
that deployment of certain strengths in the workplace has the
potential to generate change and contribute to life satisfaction.
Additionally, adopting a more dynamic model such as the
model proposed in the current study expands vocational coun-
selors’ “tool box” beyond knowledge derived from traditional
P-E fit models.
The results shown in this study further support greater atten-
tion to character strengths in career guidance, career counseling
and career development. Although strengths are described as
personality traits, endorsement of strengths can be actively
enhanced through career guidance and counseling. A person’s
life satisfaction may increase by endorsing specific strengths, as
these research findings suggests. The consideration of strengths
may provide incremental validity in predicting work satisfac-
tion. A study of both personalities and strengths that can be
conducted in a workplace setting is needed to see whether
together they can better predict positive experiences in the
workplace as well as life satisfaction. The limited but plausible
Open Access 991
overlap between strengths and vocational personalities indicates
that both are not redundant domains of work personality.
The study findings should be interpreted in light of the
study’s limitations. First, all our variables were measured with
a cross-sectional design, which requires caution in interpreting
causality. Therefore, future studies should include longitudinal
designs to strengthen this potential causality chain. Second, we
used a snowball sampling method, which inhibits the generali-
zation of our findings. Our sample included a variety of occu-
pations. Although this should potentially increase generalizabil-
ity, it also statistically increases unexpected confounding vari-
ables that make interpretation of results difficult.
Future Research
This is the first study to link the Holland’s six vocational
types with the VIA’s 24 strengths in adults. Future research
should focus on replicating these findings in other countries and
cultures. To further inspect strengths’ power to predict voca-
tional personalities and life satisfaction, a longitudinal study
design should be implemented in future research. A longitude-
nal study design can also be of assistance when evaluating
changes in strengths endorsement through career guidance and
counseling, and measuring the effects of these changes on life
satisfaction and career development over time.
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