Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between Holland's theory of vocational choice and Rotter's social learning theory. More specifically, it was aimed at examining the interplay between internal-external locus of control and consistent and inconsistent vocational patterns to determine whether the apparent differences between personality theory and vocational choice theory could be reduced.

Subjects: The subjects were 493 freshmen males who entered the University of North Dakota during the Summer or Fall of 1967, participated in the Orientation Program, and completed one semester of course work. In accordance with the experimental design 474 subjects of the original sample were used for a two way analysis of variance and 365 subjects for a three way analysis of variance.

Procedure: All of the subjects received the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, James's I-E Scale, and the American College Tests as part of the Freshman Orientation Program. To determine consistent and inconsistent vocational patterns each subject's Strong Vocational Interest Blank profile was re-grouped according to Holland's six vocational categories. Mean standard scores were then computed for each category. Primary and secondary patterns were determined by finding the first and second highest mean score among the six categories. These were then compared to Holland's "hexagonal model" to determine whether they represented consistent or inconsistent vocational patterns. James's I-E Scale was used as a measure of internal-external locus of control, while the American College Tests served as an index of academic ability. Ten hypotheses were developed. Of these, three dealt with the relationship among consistent and inconsistent vocational patterns, academic ability, and internal-external locus of control, and were tested by a two way analysis of variance, where I-E scores represented the dependent variable. The remaining seven hypotheses examined the relationship among vocational patterns, locus of control, academic ability and academic performance, the latter representing the dependent variable in a three way analysis of variance.

Principle Findings and Conclusions: Contrary to expectations there appeared to be little empirical relationship between Rotter's social learning theory and Holland's theory of vocational choice, despite the similarities which seemed to exist at a theoretical level.

Academic ability differentiated between internally and externally controlled individuals, lending support to prior studies. Similarly, internals and high ability students achieved significantly higher grades than externals and low ability students. No significant difference was found between vocationally consistent and vocationally inconsistent subjects in terms of academic achievement. No interaction was found among the variables and academic performance.

Summary: Whereas academic ability was related to locus of control, no relationship existed between vocational patterns and this construct. In terms of academic achievement, significant differences were found for locus of control and for academic ability, but not for vocational patterns.