Power of Choice & Inspire Inclusion

Power of Choice & Inspire Inclusion

Dr Aruna Balammal, Faculty Member, ICFAI Business School, Bangalore, IFHE


A research story that happened 50 years ago. Brian R Little’s research (roughly 1968 onwards) claimed that some of us are drawn to people in the environment (social aspect; people orientation) while others are drawn to the objects in the environment (thing orientation). To quantify this concept of differential adjustment to the environment, Little developed an instrument that measured the extent of the person orientation (PO) and thing orientation (TO). The data collected through this instrument stated that PO and TO are not opposites. In essence, both can be present in one person with different varying levels.

For instance, I might be very high in people orientation compared to the level of thing orientation I have. This people-thing orientation concept was first mentioned in 1911 by Thorndike in his book “Individuality” (as per reference of Su et al., 2009) and later taken for further works by Cattle and Drevdahl (1955). Cattell and Drevdahl’s (1955) study was published before modern computer technology was available to aid statistical analyses. Although they found PO and TO as bipolar opposites, we cannot conclude based on these studies for the reason I mentioned above.

Su et al.,(2009) were working on reviewing articles on sex differences in vocational interests and they found that women reportedly preferred to work with people compared to men. In contrast, men reported a preference to work with things compared to women. I was recently involved with an action research project with BodhBridge Educational Services for analysing the data generated from their personality assessment (MCMF; My Choice My Future). 

They happened to have generated a lot of data (around 1 lakh) on youth’s career preferences along with their personality. I was quite surprised to see that this sex difference was visible in India based on the data which was collected in 2019. Girls reportedly show greater interest in working with an orientation to people whereas boys have an orientation to things and objects. A theory and empirical study that was reported a couple of decades ago is still relevant. 

I am nobody to judge this as good or bad. Being a researcher and a psychologist, I would rather embrace this result as it is. I strongly believe a person shines if he/she goes by their innate career interests. Many external factors influence us in taking up a profession and sometimes we go by it due to our circumstances. But one day, eventually, we will get back to our natural inclination. 

A person will shine if they do what they enjoy. Giving unconditional and non-judgmental freedom to men and women to listen to their interests is what an egalitarian society can do. We are inclusive if we allow our children to take up the job they like to do. Not just a career, it is also about living our lives the way we want to.

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