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In this lesson, you will learn about the Realistic personality type and its application to career assessment. Following your completion of this lesson, you will be provided the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.


People who are classified as having a Realistic personality type tend to be independent and practical. Oftentimes, they are referred to as doers. Realistic personality types tend to be interested in and attracted to jobs and work environments that reflect these qualities as well.

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John Holland

Psychologist John Holland developed a theory connecting human personality characteristics with the qualities of various jobs and careers. He believed that six distinct personality characteristics exist as related to work.

The six categories are:

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

Holland believed strongly that one important key to lasting vocational success was a strong personality-environment fit. In other words, if you spend your time doing a job that allows you the opportunity to use your natural strengths and interests, then you are much more likely to be satisfied and happy with that job.

Holland Code

Holland realized that human beings are much too complicated to be classified according to only one of six personality characteristics.

So, rather than say that a person is realistic or conventional, he proposed a three-code system that takes into account differences in personality that exist among human beings.So, if you were to complete an interest inventory designed to indicate what your Holland type codes were, you may see a result such as RSI. The first letter, R, represents the Realistic category, and since it is listed first, it is the strongest of the six personality types for you. As you might have guessed, the second letter, S, represents the Social category, and since it comes second, it is the second strongest.

The letter I represents the Investigative category and is your third-strongest personality characteristic. This three-code system takes into account the fact that all people who are highly realistic still possess shades of the other five characteristics as well, thus increasing its accuracy in predicting vocational success.Holland also discovered that certain personality characteristics tend to be more highly correlated with one another than with others in the three-code system. For example, it is more common for Realistic and Investigative to be included in the same three-code group than it is for Realistic and Social. The hexagon below represents this concept graphically.

The further away each personality type is from another on the hexagon, the less those two characteristics are correlated. Conversely, the closer they are, the more highly they correlate with one another.

Holland Hexagon

Common Jobs

People whose work-interest assessments yield results reflective of a Realistic personality type are often attracted to professions such as:

Musical instrument repair
Construction and building inspector
Audiovisual specialist
Engineering technicians
Automotive mechanics
Radiologic technologists

There are far too many variables and factors involved to say that a person will be assured of vocational success in the above careers simply based on an assessment result indicating that they are highly Realistic.

But for people who are exploring career options, knowing more about yourself – such as how your personality relates to careers – is a great place to start.

Lesson Summary

People who are categorized as having a realistic personality type as it relates to the world of work are often thought of as doers. They tend to be practical and independent. John Holland theorized that all people tend to possess a combination of six distinct personality characteristics: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

He believed that people are attracted to careers and jobs that allow them to perform tasks associated with their interests and tend to be happier in environments that also reinforce the importance of those characteristics. Careers such as mechanic, inspector, and engineering technician are highly correlated with people who are categorized as being Realistic.

Learning Outcomes

After a study session, discover whether you’ve retained enough information to:

  • Provide a description of people who have a realistic personality type
  • Write the six categories of this personality type according to John Holland
  • Dissect the Holland code
  • Cite examples of positions available for realistic personalities

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