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John Lewis Holland[1] (October 21, 1919 – November 27, 2008) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University[2] and an American psychologist. He died on November 27, 2008, at Union Memorial Hospital.[2] Holland is best known as the creator of the career development model, Holland Occupational Themes (Holland Codes).


Holland was born on October 21, 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska, one of four children.[1] His father emigrated from England to the U.S. when he was 20 and worked as a laborer until night school at the YMCA led him to become an advertising executive. His mother was an elementary school teacher.[1]Holland eventually studied psychology, French, and math at the Municipal University of Omaha (now the University of Nebraska at Omaha) and graduated in 1942.[1][3]

Career hexagon.gif

The Holland hexagon referring to the Holland Codes

Early days

After graduation, Holland served in the army for three years where as a private he "worked as a classification interviewer, test proctor, paralegal clerk, laborer,squadron clerk, psychological assistant, and Wechsler test administrator [.... this experience] led to his belief that many people exemplify common psychological types, although his training had fostered the belief that people are infinitely complex. He was also able to work with and get training from social workers, psychologists, and physicians—experiences that stimulated his desire to become a psychologist."[1] He next entered a doctoral program in counseling psychology at the University of Minnesota where he "was an average student and had trouble finding an interesting thesis topic, but he finally settled on a validation of some speculations about art and personality [....] This topic did not set well with fellow students or faculty despite its straightforward empirical design. Holland eventually got the doctorate and 10 sets of used painting materials."[1]

Holland Codes

The origins of Holland's Occupational Themes or the Holland Codes: "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." [4] Holland's typology provides an interpretative structure for a number of different vocational interest surveys, including the two measures he developed: The Vocational Preference Inventory in 1953[1] and the Self Directed Search (SDS) in 1970 (revised in 1977, 1985, and 1994).[1] Holland continued to work on his theory after his retirement from Johns Hopkins in 1980, finally revising it once again in 1997.[1] He also worked with Gary Gottfredson on a few new inventories. In 1991, they developed the Position Classification Inventory (PCI) which was an outgrowth of their attempt to extend the system to all occupations in 1982, 1989, and 1996.[1] Later in 1994, they developed the the Career Attitudes and Strategies Inventory.[1]

Work history

His career spanned work at Western Reserve University, the Veteran's Administration Psychiatric Hospital (1953-56), the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (1957-63), the American College Testing Program (1963-69), and Johns Hopkins University (1969-80) as he developed his theories on career development.[2][1]


  • 1994 - American Psychological Association's Award: Distinguished Professional Contributions to Knowledge
  • 1995 - American Counseling Association: Extended Research Award
  • 2008 American Psychological Association: Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology[2]


  • The Psychology of Vocational Choice (1966)
  • The Vocational Preference Inventory (1953)
  • The Self Directed Search (1970, 1977, 1985 & 1994)
  • Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Careers (1973, 1985 & 1997)
  • The Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes (1982, 1989 & 1996, with Gottfredson)
  • The Position Classification Inventory (1991, with Gottfredson)
  • The Career Attitudes and Strategies Inventory (1994, with Gottfredson).[2]

See also


Further reading

External links

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