From Circumplex to Sphere: Perceptions of Vocational Activities, Explored and Applied

David Bimler, John Kirkland


Schematic maps of the world of work are often used in vocational guidance. Arguably a map is most effective if it coincides with the cognitive representation already internalized by job-seekers. Here, multidimensional scaling was used to extract a consensus representation from judgements about similarities among a set of vocational-aptitude descriptors. To exclude artefacts confined to a single procedure for eliciting similarity judgements, or a single form of analysis, three different procedures were used, and multiple groups of informants. The results converged on a ‘vocational space’ with at least three dimensions. Its axes were interpreted as ‘people / things’, ‘indoor / outdoor’, and ‘creative / routine’ aspects of work – though the map is rotationally indeterminate, so other frames of reference are valid. This map is shown to accommodate individuals’ preference rankings of the descriptors, by representing them as vectors.


interests;aptitudes;multidimensional scaling

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