Individual differences in occupational perceptions: a developmental study

  • Charles R.S. Jackson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis presents an investigation of the structure of people's occupational perceptions. The questionnaires used In this study collected both descriptive information about people's perceptions of occupations and also pair comparison similarities data. The data were collected both in the United States of America and England from samples of subjects who differed in terms of age and sex. This
provided, therefore, both cross-cultural and developmental dimensions to the study.
A cognitive orientation to the study of vocational behaviour is developed and multidimensional scaling procedures are used to analyze the data. A prime concern of the thesis is to examine the appropriateness of this approach and these techniques to this subject area. The results of this study show that a considerable range of individuaI differences exist in occupational perceptions.0lder subjects have a more complex structure to their perceptions and showed greater consensus as to how they perceived occupations to relate to
each other. Younger subjects exhibited a greater range of individual differences in occupational perceptions but had, on average, a simpler subjective occupational structure. The multidimensional scaling procedures used in this study were able to reveal how occupational perceptions were structured, to relate these occupational perceptions to occupational preferences and other evaluative data, and to show that the groupings and structure of occupational perceptions ore similar to the dimensions used in occupational classification schemes.
ImpIications of these resultts to vocationaI guidance theory and practice are discussed. The resuIts reported here strongly support both the use of the cognitive approach adopted here and demonstrate the potential of multidimensional scaling techniques for further:research in the field of vocational psychology.
Date of Award1978
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGeoffrey Brown (Supervisor)


  • occupational perceptions
  • multidimensional scaling
  • vocational guidance
  • individual differences
  • cross-cultural

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