The History Of John Holland, PhD

The Self-Directed Search is a direct product of a theory of personality types and environmental models developed by John Holland.



John Lewis Holland is
born in Omaha, Nebraska.


Holland receives a BA in psychology from the Municipal University of Omaha.


Works for the U.S. Army as a test proctor and psychological assistant, among other duties.


Earns a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota.


Creates the Vocational Preference Inventory, which includes occupational lists and organizes items into scales—the predecessor to the RIASEC hexagonal model.


Hones his theory based on the latest research while working at a VA psychiatric hospital, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the American College Testing Program, and Johns Hopkins University.


Publishes the Self-Directed Search and the Occupations Finder (OF).


Publishes the first revision of the Self-Directed Search, which includes major changes to scoring and increases the number of occupations in the OF.


Holland retires, but doesn’t stop working on his theory.


Publishes the third edition of the Self-Directed Search. It improves instructions, revises items, reduces item overlap across scales, and doubles the number of occupations in the OF.


Publishes the Position Classification Inventory, which allows Holland’s theory to be applied to existing positions and organizations.


Publishes the Self-Directed Search Form R, 4th Edition, which features revised items and more occupations in the OF; Holland receives the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Professional Contributions to Knowledge award.


Receives the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology. Holland dies at age 89 years in Baltimore, Maryland.


The OF is revised to include Occupational Information Network (O*NET) codes.


The Self-Directed Search Form R, 5th Edition, is published, along with the Veterans and Military Occupations Finder (VMOF).


StandardSDS and StudentSDS are published; SDS Web site is revised to include standard, student, and veteran reports.


American Psychologist staff (2008). Award for distinguished scientific applications of psychology: John L. Holland. American Psychologist, 63, 672-674.

Gottfredson, G. D. (1999). John L. Holland’s contributions to vocational psychology: A review and evaluation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 55, 15-40.