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Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

www.elsevier.com/locate/jvb

Estimating true short-term consistency in vocational


interests: A longitudinal SEM approach
Jean-Philippe Gaudron *, Stephane Vautier
OCTOGONE-CERPP, Psychology Department, Universite de Toulouse le Mirail, France
Received 2 July 2007
Available online 20 July 2007

Abstract

This study aimed at estimating the correlation between true scores (true consistency) of voca-
tional interest over a short time span in a sample of 1089 adults. Participants were administered
54 items assessing vocational, family, and leisure interests twice over a 1-month period. Responses
were analyzed with a multitrait (MT) model, which supposes no temporal change, and a latent
change (LC) model with temporally stable method effects. The LC model fitted the data well in
75% of cases whereas the MT never held. Error measurement is not sufficient in explaining the imper-
fect testretest manifest correlations. True consistency estimates were very high with an average of
.87, suggesting that although true temporal change occurs even within short periods its magnitude is
rather limited.
! 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Vocational interest; Stability; Consistency; Testretest correlation; Structural equation modeling;
Holland typology

1. Introduction

How much do scores, interpreted as measurements of vocational interest, fluctuate


across short periods of time? The answer to this question is fundamental for both theoret-
ical and practical reasons. Theoretically, if interests are though of as personality traits

*
Corresponding author. Address: UFR de Psychologie, 5 allee Machado, Universite de Toulouse le Mirail,
31058 Toulouse Cedex 9, France. Fax: +33 5 61 50 49 50.
E-mail address: gaudron@univ-tlse2.fr (J.-P. Gaudron).

0001-8791/$ - see front matter ! 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2007.07.001
222 J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

(e.g., Hansen, 1984), the scores have to exhibit a high degree of temporal consistency even
over short period. Practically, if scores lack temporal stability, it is likely that they are of
little utility in predicting occupational or educational choices even over short time spans
(Hansen, 2005).
Since Strongs (1931, 1934) pioneering work, the issue of temporal stability or change of
vocational interests has received substantial attention in vocational psychology. Among
various methodological approaches that have been proposed to address the stability
and change issue, the testretest correlation between the observed scores has been tradi-
tionally used and reported. However, there is some confusion in the interpretation of
the testretest correlation as an indicator of stability or change because of the usually huge
effect of measurement error. The purpose of this study was to estimate the testretest cor-
relation between the true scores associated with items of vocational interests in a popula-
tion of adults across a short-term span. In this research, the testretest correlation between
the true scores will be called the true consistency.

1.1. Approaches to stability and change in vocational interests

There are various methodological approaches to the assessment of stability and change
in vocational interests (Strong, 1943; Swanson, 1999), all based on the testretest design.
The interval between the two occasions of testing can vary from 2 weeks (Ihle-Helledy,
Zytowski, & Fouad, 2004; Johansson & Campbell, 1971) to several decades (Campbell,
Borgen, Eastes, Johansson, & Peterson, 1968; Rottinghaus, Coon, Gaffey, & Zytowski,
2007; Vinitsky, 1973). Some longitudinal studies have included three or more occasions
(Darcy & Tracey, 2007; Helwig, 2003; Swanson & Hansen, 1988; Tracey & Robbins,
2005a; Tracey, Robbins, & Hofsess, 2005b). Recently, authors have used other approaches
to temporal stability of vocational interests, based on congruence indexes (Slaney, Hall, &
Bieschke, 1993; Tracey & Robbins, 2005a; Tracey et al., 2005b), the RIASEC structural
equivalence model (Darcy & Tracey, 2007; Tracey & Robbins, 2005a; Tracey et al.,
2005b), and structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the longitudinal relations
among RIASEC scale scores for children (Tracey, 2002) and for adolescents (Darcy &
Tracey, 2007; Tracey & Robbins, 2005a; Tracey et al., 2005b). But as in stability of per-
sonality research (Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000), three statistics are typically used and
reported: the mean level change, the testretest profiles correlation and the testretest
correlation.
With the mean level change, the mean scale scores at the different occasions are com-
pared to assess whether groups increase or decrease on interests over time. More rarely,
authors used not only the original test scale scores, but also derived measures such as
the mean of dimensional scores (Tracey & Robbins, 2005a; Tracey et al., 2005b).
The testretest profiles correlation focuses on how each individuals interests change
over time. Traditionally, in most cases, the rank-order correlation between profiles (i.e.,
the correlation between the orders of the scales for an individual) is calculated using the
Spearman rank correlation coefficient. These estimates are found to be very high (see
Low, Yoon, Roberts, & Rounds, 2005; Swanson, 1999) and also highlight considerable
individual differences. Occasionally change in the individual profile has been assessed with
other approaches: Tracey and his colleagues (Tracey & Robbins, 2005a; Tracey et al.,
2005b) conducted repeated measures MANOVA on two profile indicators, a profile differ-
ence index, and a profile clarity indicator.
J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232 223

In vocational interest stability research, stability, and change have been most com-
monly assessed using the correlation between the scores observed at the test and the retest.
The coefficient used is the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, which mea-
sures the strength of the linear relationship between the corresponding variables. In their
recent quantitative review of vocational interest stability, Low et al. (2005) examined 66
studies which contained a stability index for a testretest interval greater than or equal
to 1 year. Overall, the studies reviewed yielded a total of 148 correlation estimates com-
prizing 30 profile correlations and 118 testretest correlations. Generally the estimates
are found to be very high (see Low et al., 2005; Swanson, 1999), particularly in short-term
intervals between the two occasions of testing. For example, Ihle-Helledy et al. (2004)
reported 10 correlation estimates ranging from .79 to .92 with an average of .86. However,
as high as the estimated values of the testretest correlation are, they never reach one.
Therefore, it is not possible to exclude that true change occurred in the meantime.

1.2. True consistency, measurement error, and true change

The main problem with the interpretation of the testretest correlation is that the effect
of temporal change in true scores within the time period and the effect of measurement
error at each occasion of testing cannot be disentangled. The estimated value of the cor-
relation can not be perfect even though no change occurred because of measurement error;
and even if the observed scores correlate perfectly, linear change may have occurred.
For a clear understanding of the meaning of the testretest correlation there is a need to
retrieve some basic descriptive statistics and Classical Test Theory (CTT) definitions.
Let us consider two observed variables Y1 and Y2 on two occasions of testing t = 1, 2, with
the usual CTT decomposition Y1 = T1 + E1, and Y2 = T2 + E2, where T and E represent
the true-score and the measurement error variables, respectively. The relationship
between the variables Y1 and Y2 can be represented in a path diagram as shown in
Fig. 1, upper panel. Consider now the correlation between the variables Y1 and Y2:
CovY 1 ; Y 2
CorY 1 ; Y 2 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ; 1
VarY 1 VarY 2

where Cov(., .) and Var(.) denote covariance and variances, respectively.


Replacing the observed variables by their respective components, considering the logi-
cal property Cov(Ti , Ei ) = 0, i = 1, 2 (the regressive independence of the true scores and

Fig. 1. Path diagram of the relation between two variables with (upper panel) or without (lower panel) temporal
change.
224 J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

the measurement errors), and assuming as usual that Cov(Ti , Ej ) = Cov(Ei , Ej ) = 0, i j


(the latter referring to the independence of the measurement errors), the correlation
between the two observed variables is also:
CovT 1 ; T 2
CorY 1 ; Y 2 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi : 2
VarT 1 VarE1 &VarT 2 VarE2 &

Finally, let us consider the correlation between the true-score variables T1 and T2:
CovT 1 ; T 2
CorT 1 ; T 2 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi : 3
VarT 1 VarT 2

As can be seen, the difference between the correlation of two observed variables (Eq.
(2)) and their corresponding true-score variables (Eq. (3)) is the presence in the former
of the error variances in the denominator. It follows that the former underestimates the
latter:
VarT 1 ' VarY 1 ; i 1; 2 ) CorY 1 ; Y 2 ' CorT 1 ; T 2 : 4

Actually, as mentioned before, the difficulty of interpreting a correlation between two


observed variables is linked to the interweaving of measurement errors and change in true
scores. Note that two kinds of change could occur: nonlinear change or linear change
(T2 = aT1 + b, with a > 1). Note also that if there is no temporal change, then
T1 = T2 = T as shown in Fig. 1, lower panel. Thus, the possible existence of measurement
error and the possible existence of temporal change lead to six possible situations summa-
rized in Table 1.
If no measurement error did occur, that is, Var(E1) = Var(E2) = 0, the correlation
between the two observed variables and the correlation between the two true-score vari-
ables are equal. The correlation is smaller than one if temporal change did occur. The cor-
relation can be equal to one even if linear change did occur because two variables linearly
(and positively) related correlate perfectly. In practice however, such a case is unlikely.
If measurement error did occur, even if there is no temporal change, then
Cor(Y1, Y2) < Cor(T1, T2). In other words, the correlation between the two observed
variables strictly underestimates the correlation between the two true-score variables. In
such a case, the correlation between the two true-score variables is smaller than one if
temporal change did occur. But it can be equal to one, even if linear change did occur.
Thus, researchers interested in assessing testretest consistency are interested in estimating

Table 1
Interpretations of correlation between observed variables and between true-score variables
Change
Yes No
Nonlinear change T1 T2 Linear change T2 = aT1 + b, T1 = T2
a>0
Measurement No Cor(Y1, Y2) = Cor(T1, T2) Cor(Y1, Y2) = Cor(T1, T2) Cor(Y1, Y2) = Cor(T1, T2)
error Cor(T1, T2) < 1 Cor(T1, T2) = 1 Cor(T1, T2) = 1
Yes Cor(Y1, Y2) < Cor(T1, T2) Cor(Y1, Y2) = Cor(T1, T2) Cor(Y1, Y2) = Cor(T1, T2)
Cor(T1, T2) < 1 Cor(T1, T2) = 1 Cor(T1, T2) = 1
J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232 225

the correlation between the true-score variables, i.e., the true consistency, instead of the
correlation between the observed variables.
The purpose of this paper was to estimate the true consistency of vocational interests
measured in a short-term testretest design. To do that, suitable measurement models
associated with an appropriate design were required. Two models with three variables cor-
responding to three measurement methods at each occasion of testing were compared: the
multitrait (MT) model, which states that there is no temporal true change, and the latent
change (LC) model, which assumes here that method effects due to the use of different
items are temporally stable, and that all items measure the same temporal true change
(Vautier, Steyer, & Boomsma, 2007). The MT model is a nested model because it is a spe-
cial case of the LC model as the true-score variables are equal across time. We hypothe-
sized that even if interests are relatively stable traits, short-term changes could exist
although they should be small fluctuations rather than drastic alterations. Consequently,
we expected high, but not perfect, true consistency estimates.

2. Method

2.1. Participants

The participants consisted of 1089 French adults who consented to respond to an anon-
ymous survey with some demographic data, two times with a 1 month interval. They were
recruited by third-year psychology students at the University of Toulouse, France, as a
course requirement. Each student made a list of several men and women, who were older
than 18 and not studying psychology, randomly selected one man and one woman from
his or her list, and asked them to take part in the study. There were 543 women
(49.9%) and 546 men (50.1%), with mean age of 31.2 years (ranging from 18 to 80).
21% had completed graduate school, 47% had an undergraduate education, 19% had grad-
uated from high school only, and the remaining 13% had not graduated from high school.
The sample included a large proportion of students (39%), but 61% came from a large
variety of non-student professions (including 8% who were unemployed).

2.2. Design and materials

The interest questionnaire comprized 18 triplets of items, i.e., 54 items altogether. Each
triplet referred to a particular activity and the 3 items were in fact the contextualization of
this activity in 3 life domains, the vocational domain, the family domain and the leisure
domain. For example, one triplet was To cook quality meals in a gourmet restaurant;
To cook quality meals for my family; To cook quality meals for friends and colleagues;
another triplet was To control the tax returns in tax collection office; To control the tax
returns of my family; To control the tax returns to help friends and neighbours. As can
been seen, the contextualization of an activity in a life domain was simply done by adding
a few words to the base statements to specify: (1) the job or the work context, for the voca-
tional context; (2) the home family or the children, for the family context; (3) the friends,
the community, the not-for-profit association, or free time context for the leisure context.
The 18 activities were chosen to represent one of the six Holland types, and were selected
from three previous empirical works with samples of 100 students, 95 adults and 497
226 J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

students. There were three activities for each Holland type. For example, To cook quality
meals is a realistic activity, To control the tax returns a conventional activity.
The 18 triplets were presented under each other with a space between them, and the
items were rated on an 8-point Likert scale from 1 (not interested at all) to 8 (very inter-
ested). To avoid order-effect, 4 versions were made: in each version, the 18 triplets were
randomly presented, and within each triplet, the 3 items were also randomly presented
(i.e., items were counterbalanced). However, if a participant completed a given version
first, he also completed the same given version 1 month later, and so on. An additional
demographic questionnaire assessed the sex, age, education level, and the socio-profes-
sional category of the participants.

2.3. Analyses

The sets of variables associated with the 18 triplets were analyzed separately using
the LC model and the nested MT model. We used Vautier et al.s (2007) general
model, which allows the analysis of non-congeneric test and retest variables. These
authors have extended the modeling of true change (Raykov, 1999; Steyer, Eid, &
Schwenkmezger, 1997) by adding individual method effects which reflect the individual
effects due to the use of different methods at each occasion of the testing (individual
method effects can arise when using, for example, different items, different ratters,
etc.). In the present study, the methods were the three contexts of the activity. Such
an approach, in which the contextualization of an interest is thought of as a method,
has been used for the purpose of assessing the method effects in a multitrait multi-
method approach (Gaudron & Vautier, 2007).
In the LC model, a measurement method has to be taken as the reference to define
the true-score variable of interest empirically. Because of the predominance of the voca-
tional interests in theory and practice in vocational psychology, as well as the purpose of
this study, we chose the vocational context method as the reference method. The path
diagram in Fig. 2 represents the LC model, where the subscripts v, f, and l denote
the vocational, family, and leisure contexts, respectively, the subscripts 1 and 2 denote
the occasions of testing, and Y, T, M, and E denote the manifest, true-score, method,
and measurement error variables, respectively. The model assumes that individual
method effects are temporally stable, which seems reasonable considering that the time
span is about 1 month.

Fig. 2. Path diagram of the latent change model.


J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232 227

Fig. 3. Path diagram of the multitrait model.

The MT model is depicted in Fig. 3. It is a special case of the LC model, where


Tv1 = Tv2 = Tv, Tf1 = Tf2 = Tf + Mf, and Tl1 = Tl2 = Tl + Ml. If no change occurs, the
MT model should fit the data.
To get estimates of Cor(Tv1, Tv2) along with their standard errors in the LC model, we
fixed the variances of Tv1 and Tv2 to 1 and put an equality constraint on the regression
coefficients. In the MT model, the variances of the true-score variables were freely esti-
mated and the regression coefficients were set to 1. Both models were estimated by using
the robust maximum likelihood estimator MLR available in the Mplus software (Muthen
& Muthen, 1998). v2 difference tests were performed using the appropriate correction for
deviation from multivariate multinormality.

3. Results

3.1. Statistical fits of the models

The goodness-of-fit summaries of the 18 triplet datasets are given in Table 2. The LC
model closely fitted the data for 8 triplets as shown by the non-significant v2 values, the
CFI values above .99 and the RMSEA values below .05. The fit of the LC model was good
for 6 triplets datasets with CFI above .95 and RMSEA below .08. The model did not fit
the data for the remaining 4 triplets. None of the MT models fitted the data well, which
demonstrate that the hypothesis of perfect temporal stability between the test and the ret-
est can be rejected. Therefore, the v2 difference tests of differences (Dv2) were highly signif-
icant in any of the 18 triplets.

3.2. Estimates of the true consistency of vocational interest

The LC model fitted 14 triplets datasets well. For these, it allowed the estimate of the
correlation between the two latent reference variables Tv1 and Tv2, i.e., the true consis-
tency. The 14 estimates are displayed in Table 3. They ranged from .77 to .92 with an aver-
age of .87. These coefficients were high but not perfect despite the fact that measurement
error was taken into account: temporal change occurred even if it was of a small magni-
tude in the short-term test retest design. Also displayed in Table 3 are the 18 correlations
between the referential observed variables, Yv1 and Yv2. They ranged from .57 to .72 with
an average of .66. On average, the underestimate due to measurement error (the difference
between the true correlation and the observed correlation) is about .20, ranging from .13
to .25.
228 J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

Table 2
Summary of fits indices of the different models on each activity
Model df v2 p Dv2 with Ddf = 5 RMSEA CFI
To cook quality meals
LC 7 81.626 .0000 .099 .958
MT 12 351.35 .0000 240.99 .161 .811
To assemble, to repair computers
LC 7 28.372 .0002 .053 .992
MT 12 440.233 .0000 357.67 .181 .831
To look after flowers and plants
LC 7 37.459 .0000 .063 .987
MT 12 271.631 .0000 213.73 .141 .893
To be present at a scientific conference
LC 7 48.46 .0000 .074 .976
MT 12 246.06 .0000 192.97 .134 .865
To observe animals behavior
LC 7 9.739 .20 .019 .999
MT 12 251.674 .0000 219.36 .135 .872
To study and observe stars
LC 7 30.982 .0000 .056 .988
MT 12 272.03 .0000 236.71 .141 .867
To take pictures
LC 7 38.142 .0000 .064 .982
MT 12 262.174 .0000 200.81 .138 .858
To write poems and short stories
LC 7 15.671 .03 .034 .996
MT 12 300.984 .0000 272.12 .149 .88
To draw
LC 7 33.458 .0000 .059 .984
MT 12 137.761 .0000 102.72 .098 .924
To propose educational activities
LC 7 75.33 .0000 .095 .965
MT 12 348.743 .0000 258.10 .161 .826
To comfort, to give old people ones support
LC 7 9.542 .22 .018 .999
MT 12 391.578 .0000 307.00 .170 .836
To listen, to offer to arbitrate
LC 7 14.187 .05 .031 .996
MT 12 302.54 .0000 277.17 .149 .848
To keep a sales stand
LC 7 7.052 .42 .003 1.00
MT 12 190.696 .0000 178.16 .117 .905
To trade, to get attractive prices
LC 7 97.473 .0000 .109 .961
MT 12 499.392 .0000 394.84 .193 .788
To persuade and to mobilize in support of a plan
LC 7 23.312 .002 .046 .99
MT 12 323.796 .0000 287.24 .154 .804
J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232 229

Table 2 (continued)
Model df v2 p Dv2 with Ddf = 5 RMSEA CFI
To file mail and send letters in reply
LC 7 11.873 .10 .025 .998
MT 12 397.008 .0000 348.31 .172 .808
To use word-processing for correspondence
LC 7 118.841 .0000 .121 .941
MT 12 424.977 .0000 297.76 .178 .784
To control the tax returns
LC 7 48.313 .0000 .074 .975
MT 12 285.673 .0000 232.44 .145 .837
LC, latent change model; MT, multitrait model; RMSEA, root mean squared error of approximation; CFI,
comparative fix index.

Table 3
Testretest true consistency and correlation between observed variables estimates
Vocational interest True consistency Observed correlation
To cook quality meals in a gourmet restaurant .68 (.02)
To assemble, to repair computers in a computer store .82 (.02) .69 (.02)
To look after flowers and plants in the town gardens .90 (.01) .72 (.02)
To be present at a scientific conference as a scientist .89 (.01) .67 (.02)
To observe animals behavior for a research institute .87 (.01) .63 (.02)
To study and observe stars as an astronomer .89 (.01) .69 (.02)
To take pictures for several newspapers .89 (.01) .67 (.02)
To write poems and short stories for journals and magazines .88 (.01) .72 (.02)
To draw for a publicity campaign .93 (.01) .68 (.02)
To propose educational activities as a special education teacher .69 (.02)
To comfort, to give old people ones support as psychologist .89 (.01) .69 (.02)
To listen, to offer to arbitrate couples as marital counsellor .86 (.01) .68 (.02)
To keep a sales stand for a well-known brand in an international .88 (.01) .65 (.02)
fair
To trade, to get attractive prices for a central buying office .65 (.02)
To persuade and to mobilize in support of a plan of the firms .86 (.01) .66 (.02)
executives
To file mail and send letters in reply to the companys clients .79 (.02) .60 (.02)
To use word-processing for correspondence as a secretary .62 (.02)
To control the tax returns in tax collection office .77 (.03) .57 (.03)
Note. Values enclosed in parentheses are standard errors.

4. Discussion

The results of the present study suggested two conclusions. First, a latent change model
fitted the data far better than a model without change. More precisely, in 75% of cases (14/18
triplets), it was possible to account for the observed mean and covariance structure
with the latent change (LC) model; for none of the cases with the multitrait (MT) model.
Taking into account the sole error of measurement is not sufficient to account for imper-
fect testretest consistency, and it seems necessary to admit a change factor even in a
230 J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232

short-term testretest design. However, for four triplets, the LC model did not fit the data
well. Thus, the conjoint hypotheses that the items measure a single attribute and tempo-
rally stable method effects do not hold in some cases. A more complex design would be
necessary to test the stability of method effects.
For the vocational interests associated with unconfirmed measurement models, the sole
coefficients available were the correlations between the observed variables. But for the
remaining 14, it could be possible to estimate the true consistency. And this approach
stressed the underestimation due to unreliability of the observed variables: Cor(T1, T2) >
Cor(Y1, Y2).
Hence, for the second conclusion, the present study suggested that only little change
occurred during the 1-month interval between test and retest. The true consistency esti-
mates ranged from .77 to .92. This conclusion is consistent with previous findings which
showed high short-term correlation coefficients (Campbell et al., 1968; Ihle-Helledy
et al., 2004). For example, Campbell et al. reported 22 1-month testretest correlation
coefficients ranging from .71 to 94. Also in the present study, the correlations between
the observed variables presented in Table 3 were smaller than those reported in such
short-term studies. This can be explained by the fact that all previous studies were based
on total testretest scoresusually simple sums of item scoresand generally composite
scores are more reliable than single item-scores. It is also compatible with Schuerger, Zar-
rella, and Hotz (1989) who found that the average number of items per scale has an effect
on short-term interval stability.
One limitation of this study was due to the chosen model even if the LC model has sev-
eral advantages, particularly the possibility of analyzing non-congeneric testretest data
(Vautier et al., 2007). The individual method effects are assumed to be temporally stable:
thus, we had to assume that the individual effects due to the use of family context instead
of vocational context were the same in the two occasions of testing (idem for leisure con-
text). Furthermore, if one is interested in assessing the true consistency of interests in the
case of long time periods, the hypothesis of temporally stable method effects is question-
able. The presented estimates were limited to short-term design as research either on voca-
tional interests (Johansson & Campbell, 1971; Low et al., 2005; Swanson, 1999) or on
personality (Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000; Schuerger et al., 1989) have stressed the effect
of time intervals on the size of the correlation coefficients. Another limitation of this study
was that the sample studied was drawn from the French adult population, even if it gives
the opportunity to compare with samples from other regional and cultural contexts or
with samples of younger participants.
More than 70 years ago, Strong claimed that The evidence is clear that interests are
very stable from 25 to 55 years of age. The evidence is also clear that there are real changes
from 15 to 30 of age (Strong, 1934, p. 337). Since that time, if research on vocational
interests during adolescence tend to focus either on stability or on change reflecting the
two vocational interest traditions, i.e., the differential tradition and the developmental tra-
dition (Tracey et al., 2005b), research on vocational interests during adulthood focused
only on stability. However, the stability estimates were not so high as to warrant the con-
clusion that no change occurred in adulthood (Low et al. 2005, p. 727). Swanson (1999)
suggested recognizing the possibility of stability and of change and the importance to
define the difference between the two processes (p. 145). Also recently, Tracey et al.
(2005b) demonstrated the value of incorporating both consistency and change when exam-
ining vocational interests during adolescence.
J.-P. Gaudron, S. Vautier / Journal of Vocational Behavior 71 (2007) 221232 231

Our findings, with the recommended caution due to the lack of prior research in voca-
tional interests to enable comparison, underline the interest of appreciating true testretest
consistency by disentangling temporal change in true scores from measurement error.
Practically, if the magnitude of testretest true change is limited, practitioners may neglect
this aspect in using usual measurements of interests to predict occupational or educational
choices over short time spans.
Our findings also suggest several areas for future research. For example, what are the
estimates of true consistency for long-term testretest design? Even if no large differences
in stability of interests over time across gender or ethnicity have been found either for ado-
lescents or adults (see Low et al., 2005; Tracey & Robbins, 2005a), do these true consis-
tency estimates vary across groups of individual (gender, ethnicity, and personality
traits)? Does the LC model account for temporal change due to the transient nature of
the attribute to be measured (Vautier et al., 2007) during adolescence? Such an approach
could be a response to Swanson (1999) request for the development of some indices that
will account for both consistency and change.

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