Foundation AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL
By Heather Stringer
Richard Holland long admired his older brother, psychologist
John Holland, PhD, a pioneer in the
field of vocational and personality
psychology. To honor his late brother,
Richard has donated $150,000 to an
APF fund dedicated to supporting
researchers who will continue the
work his brother started.
Known as the Dr. W. Bruce and
Jane Walsh Fund in memory of Dr.
John L. Holland, the fund will give
grants each year to support scientific,
scholarly or applied research and/or
educational activities investigating
how personality, culture and
environment influence work behavior
and health. The first grant of $13,000
will be awarded this summer.
“My brother John had incredible
perseverance,” says Richard Holland,
the youngest of the three Holland brothers.
“In the beginning, people laughed at his
concept that personality types were an
important part of career assessment, but
John Holland was professor emeritus
of sociology at Johns Hopkins University
when he died in 2008. He developed
the theory that in choosing a career,
people will be more satisfied in jobs
where they can be around others who
are like them. He maintained that
there are six personality types: realistic,
investigative, artistic, social, enterprising
and conventional. People of the same
personality type working together in
a job create a work environment that
reflects their interests.
To help people identify careers that
would be most satisfying, he developed
several occupational assessment tools,
including the Holland Vocational
Preference Inventory and the Self-Directed Search, which have had
widespread influence around the world.
Throughout his life, Holland updated
his assessment tools as careers evolved,
says Bruce Walsh, PhD, who established
the APF fund in honor of John Holland.
Walsh met Holland as a student at
the University of Iowa. He was intrigued
by Holland’s idea that environments —
like people — have personalities, and he
decided to pursue a doctoral degree with
Holland as his advisor. After earning his
PhD, Walsh went on to an academic
career in counseling and vocational
psychology with an emphasis on
research based on Holland’s theory.
“I liked his curiosity and his wry
sense of humor,” Walsh says. “He was
an intellectual but also very attuned
to people. He wanted to help people
identify career paths that they would
Holland continued to hone
his theory throughout his career,
which included stints at a VA
psychiatric hospital, the National
Merit Scholarship Corporation, the
American College Testing Program
and Johns Hopkins University.
Although he is well-known for the
vocational tools he created, John
Holland was deeply passionate about
the importance of the research that
supported his theories. For this
reason, Walsh is eager to see what
future investigators reveal in the area
of work behavior and health.
“John Holland’s research has
John Holland’s goal to help people find satisfying careers will continue with new grant program.
had a staggering influence on
vocational psychology, personality and
organizational psychology,” Walsh says.
“I really wanted to honor his work and
life by establishing the fund, and see that
his concepts and ideas continue in the
Holland and his work inspired a
great deal of respect from those who
knew him. In addition to Bruce and
Jane Walsh, who established a fund in
his honor, Psychological Assessment
Resources (PAR), Holland’s longtime
publisher, contributed $25,000 to
continue his legacy through this fund. n
Dr. John Holland