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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 30 (2011) 1801 1805

Procedia
Social and
Behavioral
Sciences
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WCPCG-2011

Experimental investigations on professional identity, vocational


personality type and stress level in adults
Cristian Vasilea, Gabriel Albua
a

Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Letters and Sciences, Petroleum-Gas University of Ploieti, Bd. Bucureti 39, Ploieti 100680,
Romania

Abstract
Within the Health Psychology field the problems regarding the relationship between personality structure and individual
professional area represent a major share. Lack of professional satisfaction (fulfilment) has strong extensions to personal life and
to the well-being state and, of course, influences the psychological balance.
The study tried to capture the dynamics of the relationship between Professional Identity and stress level (Stress Profile) in adults
and some specific characteristics of the vocational personality type (according to the vision of John Holland). The correlation
between Professional Identity and Stress Profile was also observed.
Keywords: professional identity, stress level, vocational personality, mental health, psychological counseling

1. Introduction
The work environment was and still is a major field of exploration and research in order to obtain a more
efficient person at the workplace. Many studies have been carried out on the workplace stress or occupational stress
factors and causes. Some characteristics of the work environment have been founded as stress agents and as being at
the basis of the low work efficiency in different fields of activity.
According to some approaches, stress is better explained studying the interaction between individual and
environment (Sutherland and others, 1995). Studies have been conducted also on the extent to which the
organizational behavior and the work-related wellbeing can be understood by environmental factors and by the
employees subjective evaluation (Van Yperen & Sijders, 2000).
In addition John Holland explored within his theoretical frame the vocational personality types and he proposed
some psychological instruments for the personality evaluation in terms of occupation (Holland, 1985). Hollands
theory is one of the few which explore the matching between the individual personality characteristics and the
occupation. Most of the amount of research on the stress and occupation was focused on the work environment and
less on questions like: Is this work appropriate for this specific person? Is this specific person efficient on this
specific job?
It is well-known that there are many persons who strive for a job only to pay their bills, but they are not content
with their work. Internal psychological factors give them a dissatisfaction feeling and we refer here to the

*Cristian Vasile. Tel.: +40723324169


E-mail address: clinical_psycho@yahoo.com
1877-0428 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the 2nd World Conference on Psychology,
Counselling and Guidance.
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.10.347

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Albu Albu
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personality traits and personal thoughts about a job.


Research conducted by one of the authors in 2006 suggested that the Self interact with the environment through
several Identity Structures or interfaces, understood as structures which allow a person to be unique, to have specific
models of action, specific behavior and living style and containing the Self as a core (Vasile, 2007). One of these
Identity Structures is the Professional Identity (Vasile, 2007, 2008, 2010). In terms of human psychological
development and wellbeing, the Professional Identity (PI) should lead to satisfaction and fulfillment feelings. The
bigger is the matching between ones personality traits/values/attitudes and the job structure, the bigger is the
satisfaction feeling. Moreover, in our opinion the lack of satisfaction and fulfillment lead to increased distress (or
negative stress).
1.1. Purpose of the research
The purpose of this study was to capture the dynamics of the relationship between vocational personality type
(according to the vision of John Holland), Professional Identity and stress levels of the subjects. The correlation
between these factors was also observed. As a starting hypothesis we assumed that there is a co-variation between
Professional Identity and Stress Profile
2. Method
2.1. Participants
The sample consisted of 67 adults, 35 women and 32 men, aged from 30 to 50 years old (M=39.64). All of the
participants were employed.
2.2. Instruments
As instruments we have used a professional identity scale, a stress evaluation inventory and a vocational
personality inventory. Statistical data were collected and processed by calculating the correlation coefficients. The
instruments are presented below in more details.
Professional Identity Scale (PIS) is one of the seven subscales from SPIS scale (Scala de Perceptie si Implinire
a Sinelui the Scale of Perception and Fulfillment of the Self) developed in 2006 in Romania. The SPIS was subject
of statistical evaluation of reliability and internal consistency; the statistical analysis indicated a reliable scale with a
good internal consistency. The statistical analysis of SPIS was conducted five years ago and presented in different
articles and conferences. As shown above we used only PIS scale in order to evaluate the individuals dissatisfaction
vs. satisfaction and fulfillment in relation to work. The scale is a self-report questionnaire including five items,
ranked from 1 to 5, 1 meaning total agreement and 5 total disagreement.
Wheatley Stress Profile (WSP) is an instrument designed to quantify the negative stress (distress) in nine areas:
social habits, social relationships, life events, sexual, sleep problems (psychiatric), psychological, old age, menstrual
and heart related items. We choose to use a complex instrument, which doesnt measure the distress only in relation
to work, because as a person spends most of the time at work, many problems from other life areas have the origin
in the work dissatisfaction.
Holland Vocational Inventory (HVI) developed by John Holland in order to investigate the vocational
personality type. According to Holland there are six major personality types (realistic, investigative, artistic, social,
enterprising and conventional) and an individual could be described as having interests associated with each of these
types in a descending order preference.
2.3. Procedure
The instruments were administered by instructed operators, all of them in small groups or individually, according
to instructions. The subjects were told about the purpose of the research, and that the information they will provide
will be secured and they are free to participate into the research.

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2.4. Data analysis


Statistical analysis was conducted by SPSS 16.0 and Excel. Frequencies, descriptive statistics (mean, deviation)
and specific correlation between Professional Identity (PI) and Stress Profile (SP) were calculated. Analysis of
variance (ANOVA) was also conducted for the two scales (PI and SP).
3. Results
After the calculation of the averages for the two factors (PI and SP) following results were obtained:
Medium score on PI for the entire sample: 13.07463
Medium score on SP for the entire sample: 31%
Average PI men: 12.21
Average PI women: 13.85
Frequencies for PI and SP were also obtained through statistics as follows (Table 1 and Table 2):
Table 1. Professional Identity frequency

Frequency
Valid

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative
Percent

19

28,4

28,4

16

23,9

23,9

52,2

32

47,8

47,8

100,0

Total

67

100,0

100,0

28,4

Table 2. Stress Profile frequency

Frequency
Valid

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative
Percent

1,00

10

14,9

14,9

2,00

28

41,8

41,8

56,7

3,00

29

43,3

43,3

100,0

Total

67

100,0

100,0

14,9

Correlations between PI and SP were calculated by Pearson coefficient and the results are as follows:
1. for the entire sample Pearson coefficient is 0.6271;
2. for men Pearson coefficient is 0.64499;
3. for women Pearson coefficient is 0.60698.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was calculated for PI and SP by gender and the results are reflected in Table 3.
Table 3. ANOVA
Sum of
Squares
PI

SP

Between Groups ,616


Within Groups
Total
Between Groups ,993
Within Groups

df

Mean Square
1 ,616

47,862
48,478

65 ,736
66

32,619

1 ,993
65 ,502

F
,837

Sig.
,364

1,979 ,164

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Albu Albu
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Table 3. ANOVA
Sum of
Squares

df

Mean Square

PI

Between Groups ,616


47,862
48,478

SP

Within Groups
Total
Between Groups ,993

65 ,736
66
1 ,993

Within Groups
Total

32,619
33,612

65 ,502
66

1 ,616

F
,837

Sig.
,364

1,979 ,164

The co-variation of the PI and SP was also represented in a visual way as in Fig. 1:
Fig. 1
Professional Identity and Stress Profile variation
3,5

PI and SP scores

3
2,5
2
1,5
1
0,5
0
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Subjects
Professional Identity

Stress profile

Regarding HVI results, an interesting variation between women and men was found on realistic personality type,
as Fig. 2 represents it.
Fig. 2
"Realistic" personality type variation
40
35
30

Scores

25
20
15
10
5

2,

In

on

-5

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10111213141516171819202122232425262728293031323334353637383940414243444546474849505152535455565758596061626364656667

Subjects

Fig.
the

horizontal axis, the subjects are represented: first men, then women. On the vertical axis the scoring for the realistic

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personality type is represented. As we can observe, for the studied sample, men show a more realistic type of
personality than women. No other specific difference or variation was observed in the studied sample from the view
of vocational personality types.
4. Discussion
From the vocational personality types view (Holland approach) this study suggested that the realistic
characteristics of the personality is more present in men than in women for the studied sample. No other major
variations or special characteristics were observed in the sample.
The research hypothesis was confirmed, the statistics showing that there is a strong positive correlation between
PI and SP for the studied sample. The finding suggests that the feeling of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment in the
professional/occupational area leads to a large amount of stress in all the life areas (WSP measure stress in nine life
areas). The bigger is the amount of stress, the smaller is the efficiency in all life areas and, implicitly, in ones
occupation. The study results highlights that not only the environment is important at work, but what a person think
about his/her job, or how much he/she think the occupation fits to his/her psychological structure (values,
preferences, skills, feelings and so on).
As a main conclusion and suggestion we believe that counseling sessions for employees could be one of the best
solutions in order to diminish the internal conflict of the employees. On the other hand, within the vocational
counseling offered to graduated students or to students, one of the important ideas to be discussed refers to the
fitting between an occupation and the candidates psychological structure. In this regard one of the best advices
could be that a person shouldnt work in a job which doesnt fit to his/her internal structure.
Last but not least it should be noted that the PI high score (which means high dissatisfaction feeling) and WSP
high score (which means high stress in major areas of life) are strongly related to the mental health area. In this
regard persons with dissatisfaction feelings and distress need more psychological and medical assistance which
leads to higher social costs.
References
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Holland, J. L. (1985). Making vocational choices. A theory of vocational personalities and work environments. New Jersey: PrenticeHall.
Sutherland, L., Fogarty, G., & Pithers, R. (1995). Congruence as a predictor Occupational stress. Journal of Vocational Behaviour. 46
(3), 292-309.
Van Yperen, N.W., Snijders, T.A. (2000). A Multilevel Analysis of the Demands-Control Model: Is Stress at Work Determined by
Factors at the Group Level or the Individual Level? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 5, no. 1, 182-190
Vasile, C. (2010). Experimental investigations on self-esteem variation in correlation to physical identity at the third age. In M. Milcu
(Ed.), Modern research in psychology: quantitative vs. Qualitative research? (pp. 47 50). Ed. Universitara, Bucuresti.
Vasile, C. (2008). Identity Structures variation at the third age. Petroleum-Gas University Bulletin, Educational Sciences Series, 1B, 6772
Vasile, C. (2007). Identity structures, self-concept and education of the adolescents. Petroleum-Gas University Bulletin, Educational
Sciences Series, 2, 43-47