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In this lesson you will learn about the Conventional personality trait. You will learn what characteristics define this personality type as well as how it relates to vocational decisions. Following this lesson you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.


People who are considered to possess a Conventional personality type are thought to be orderly and task-oriented, and they tend to play by the rules. People with a Conventional personality type are often referred to as organizers based on the traits mentioned above. Like all personality styles, people who are Conventional are attracted to environments, including working environments, that support these personality characteristics.

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John Holland

Psychologist John Holland was fascinated by the role that personality played in how people choose vocations. Holland developed a trait-theory of personality which posited that all people possess six distinct personality characteristics. He calls these six categories:

  • Realistic (Doers)
  • Investigative (Thinkers)
  • Artistic (Creators)
  • Social (Helpers)
  • Enterprising (Persuaders)
  • Conventional (Organizers)

At the core of Holland’s theory is the belief that people strive to achieve a personality-environment fit when it comes to the work and working environments they choose.

A person who spends his time doing a job that allows him to be immersed in his interests and also reinforces his natural personality characteristics is much more likely to be satisfied and happy in his job.

Holland Codes

John Holland understood that classifying all human beings into one of only six personality groups is much too simplistic of a model. He did, however, believe in the validity of his 6-personality characteristic system. Rather than attempt to develop additional personality characteristic categories, he developed a 3-code system comprised of numerous possible combinations of the core six personality traits. By structuring his system in this way he increased the number of possible personality descriptors exponentially. This 3-code system provides for a more accurate reflection of the differences in personality that exist among human beings than the six category system can alone.Let’s look at an example.

If you were to complete an interest inventory designed to tell you what your Holland type code is, you may see a result such as CRS. The first letter, C, represents the Conventional category, the second letter, R, represents the Realistic category, and the third letter, S, represents the Social category. In addition to the significance of the letters, the positioning of the letters has meaning as well.The first letter represents the strongest trait of the six, the second the second strongest, and the third the third strongest. Just because the other three categories ( Investigative, Artistic, and Enterprising) do not show up in your Holland code doesn’t mean you don’t possess those characteristics.

It just means that they are not as strong. This 3-code system takes into account the fact that all people who are highly Conventional still possess shades of the other five characteristics as well, thus increasing its accuracy in predicting vocational satisfaction.John Holland also noticed that some personality characteristics tended to be more highly correlated with one another. It is more common for Conventional and Realistic to be included in the same Holland code than it is for Conventional and Artistic. The Holland Hexagon graphic represents this concept.

The closer in proximity that each personality type is from another, the more those two characteristics are correlated. On the other hand, the further apart that they are, the less likely they are to appear together.

The Holland Hexagon
Holland Hexagon

Common Jobs

People whose work interests align with the Conventional personality type are often attracted to jobs such as:

  • Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerks
  • Energy Auditors
  • Computer Security Specialists
  • Health Information Technicians
  • Quality Control Inspectors
  • Tax Preparers
  • Receptionists

Knowing a Holland code does not guarantee vocational success. There are an infinite number of variables that Holland codes do not take into account which can impact vocational decisions and job satisfaction. Holland codes are, however, very helpful for the person who is searching for a starting point or even the person who wants to re-evaluate his or her current work-environment fit.

Lesson Summary

Conventional personality types are often thought of as the organizers. People who are Conventional tend to be orderly and task-oriented. Psychologist John Holland believed that all people possess a combination of six distinct personality characteristics: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

Holland argued that people are attracted to jobs that allow them to perform tasks associated with their interests and personality traits and also tend to be more satisfied in work environments that also support those characteristics. Vocations such as health information technician, energy auditor, and tax preparer are highly correlated with people who are classified as Conventional.

Conventional Personality Types: Key Terms

Terms Definitions
Conventional personality organizers who tend to be task-oriented
6-personality characteristic system 6 personality categories identified by psychologist John Holland
Holland Codes Holland’s 3-code system that addresses possible combinations of the 6 core personality characteristics
Personality-Environment Fit working in an ideal vocation based on a person’s natural personality characteristics and interests

Learning Outcomes

The goal after completing this lesson is to:

  • Identify the Conventional personality type
  • Describe how John Holland set up his 6-personality characteristic system
  • Discuss the role of Holland Codes in the personality characteristic system
  • Recall various career options that could be ideal for Conventional personalities

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