Moderation of the relation between person-environment congruence and academic success: Environmental constraint, personal flexibility and method

Terence Tracey, Jeff Allen, Steven B. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


The relation of interest-major congruence to indicators of college success was examined as it was moderated by environmental constraint, individual flexibility, and congruence definition in an initial sample of 88,813 undergraduates (38,787 men and 50,026 women) from 42 different colleges and universities in 16 states. College achievement (GPA after 1 semester and 2. years), persistence (enrollment status after 1. year and after 2. years) and major persistence in year 3 were used as criteria of college success. The significance of congruence (i.e., Euclidean distance and profile correlation) and its moderators above that of measures of academic achievement (i.e., ACT scores) and gender were examined for each of the college outcome criteria using hierarchical modeling. Results indicated that both the environmental constraint of the major and the interest flexibility of the individual moderated the congruence-outcome relation for both types of congruence indices. There was a greater relation between congruence and college outcomes for those majors that had more homogeneity and were more differentiated (i.e., were more constrained) than for majors where this was not true. There was a stronger relation between congruence and college outcomes for those individuals with lower overall profile levels (i.e., low flexibility) than those with high. Findings point to the importance of interest-major congruence in the college outcome process, but also highlight the complexity of the congruence-outcome relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-49
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012



  • College persistence
  • College success
  • Interest flexibility
  • Interest-major congruence
  • P-E congruence
  • P-E fit
  • Strong environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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