It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.

Differentialism – Environmental Theory – Trait and Factor Theory

Alec Rodger – 1952


Seven Factor Theory was originally intended to be used for recruitment and selection interviews. Career professionals quickly adopted this tool for career guidance. It consists of the classic 3 step process after which the practitioner can make career suggestions to the client. It’s ancestry doesn’t leave much to be guessed. Much of what is said about Parsons can be said about Rodger’s seven step plan, though it offers slightly more direction in providing the steps by which to explore, and then match, the different criteria.


How can it actually be used in practice?

In essence, in a job assessment environment, the original home of this theory, the employer describes the 7 different criteria for the job and then explores the same criteria in the cleint, offering a matching score by which a decision can be made on whether a job applicant is a good match or not.

  1. Exploration of jobs along the 7 criteria – what do different jobs require?
  2. Exploration with the client along the same 7 criteria – what does the client have to offer?
  3. Assessment on whether there is a good match and subsequent advice for the client to pursue exploring the career further as an option worthwhile of consideration.Environmental career theory or Rodger's Matching theories.

I would suggest that, unless there are special circumstances such as a client with strong career interests, I would turn around the model and explore the client side first. Alec Rodgers matching theory of career guidance.

This model is largely self-explanatory I think.



Here too, a lot of what was said about Parson’s theory can be applied here, both positive and negative. So the same questions can be asked:

  • Would you be able to use Rodger’s theory in your day to day practice? In what way, and what would it offer both you and your client?
  • What would be the limitations of differentialism for you and your clients?
  • What would be the dangers of using this?
  • If you think about matching tools, in what circumstances would they be a good idea?
  • When you think of the resources, in the broadest sense, available to you; what can you say about this model in that context?
  • How would this theory perform against Brown’s criteria?
  • Especially also compare this with a develomental theory and see what you think. Do we live in a static world or society? How well does this theory cope with change?
  • Now do the same with a social learning theory. How are influences taken into account in Rodger’s seven point plan? What is missing and what are the consequences?
  • What does it not take into account about ‘the individual’?

It may be a good idea also, to have a look at Parson’s theory on here for more background.


Useful links