Person-vocation fit across the world of work: Evaluating the generalizability of the circular model of vocational interests and social cognitive career theory across 74 countries

Alexander Glosenberg, Terence Tracey, Tara S. Behrend, David L. Blustein, Lori L. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The fit of a person with a vocation, or person-vocation (P-V) fit, is important for workers and is a central concept in vocational psychology. Multiple theories in vocational psychology undergird an understanding of P-V fit, including the circular model of vocational interests and social cognitive career theory (SCCT). However, it is unclear whether predictions based upon these theories are generalizable across a range of societies. To help overcome this limitation, we conduct what is to our knowledge the broadest international study of vocational interests to date. Based upon Hofstede's (2003) cross-cultural theory and Inglehart and Baker's (2000) modernization theory, we hypothesize that both the circular model and a key proposition based on SCCT, namely a positive relationship between educational attainment and P-V fit, will be less appreciable in societies low on cultural individualism and economic development. Using 81,445 responses from 74 countries to an online vocational inventory, we found partial support for these hypotheses. Our findings underscore the need for additional research to understand the relevance of the circular model and SCCT to societies that differ culturally and economically from settings like the United States where those theories have been predominately developed and tested. Our findings also warrant caution for practitioners in employing recommendations and interventions based upon these theories in such societies without thoroughly validating their use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-108
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019



  • Circular model
  • Economic development
  • Individualism
  • Person-vocation fit
  • Social and cognitive career theory
  • Vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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