Holland’s RIASEC Hexagon: A Paradigm for Life and Work Decisions

by Emily Bullock-Yowell, Robert C. Reardon

This book examines John Holland’s theory of vocational personalities and work environments and extends it to other life decisions that involve effectively matching individuals with their life and work options. It intends to refresh the thinking of career counselors, advisors, managers, coaches, and others working in the area of life and career decision-making. Many persons in education, psychology, and business are familiar with Holland’s RIASEC theory, and this book explores the theory beyond usual boundaries. It focuses on the RIASEC hexagon and theory alone as tools to improve career and life planning. The authors believe that the theory and hexagon can be used in primary prevention, an intervention focused on preventing life/career decision difficulties for many people before they experience such problems. Primary prevention aims to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors in such decision-making.

The authors, Dr. Emily Bullock-Yowell and Dr. Robert C. Reardon, view this book as a combination of things. First, it can be a refresher for some professionals and students who learned about Holland’s RIASEC theory as part of their training and career preparation. It may extend earlier learning about vocational interests to other areas like educational, leisure, and relationship choices. Second, it may help parents, teachers, advisors, retirees, clergy, and students assist others in making good choices about options that match their interests and goals. Individuals who assist others in the tasks of career and life planning (e.g., human resource professionals, career counselors) can use this book to better assist clients and employees. In a nutshell, this book is both a lite tutorial for vocational counselors and organizational consultants, and a self-help resource for anyone making career/life decisions.

Many life decisions involve the pursuit of good matches for ourselves, e.g., spouse/partner, job, college, friendships, organizations, teams, charities, political parties, etc. Holland’s RIASEC paradigm provides a language, vocabulary, or lexicon that takes much of the guesswork out of this process. This book helps one understand and enhance such matches using RIASEC theory. The authors use the word paradigm in the title of their book rather than the word theory but use these terms interchangeably throughout the book.

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