Sunday, November 18, 2012

Strong Interest Explorer

The Strong Interest Explorer (SIE) is a self-exploring and self-scorable abbreviated 140 item version of the Strong Interest Inventory which contains 317 items. The SIE evaluates individual's interests in school subjects, various people, occupations, and other preferences (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2006). The scores of the SIE provide preference information categorized into 14 areas of interest and further refined under 6 occupational themes. It is based on the RIASEC classification created by Holland (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2006). Not to be confused with assessments that measure aptitude or intelligence, the Strong Interest Explorer assesses individual interests compared to the interests of happily employed individuals in a variety of occupations (Whiston, 2009). The SIE was designed to assess individuals aged 16 and over and takes 8-10 minutes to complete (Sheehan, 2010).

Norming Process
A total of 343 high school students were used in the norming process for the SIE (Goldman, 2010). Seventy percent were female and 84% were Caucasian, although no additional information regarding the samples was given. The SIE manual states the test is intended for individuals exploring career options based on personal interest, and further describes its intended population as high school and college level students although Goldman (2010) found the descriptions inadequate. Sheehan (2010) on the other hand, believed normative data was unnecessary, considering the ipsative nature of the assessment.


The manual for the SIE provided internal consistency and test-retest for reliability. Internal consistency was .80 or above for high school and college students as well as employed adults (Sheehan, 2010). Internal consistency was evaluated by comparisons made of the 14 interest scales across three samples (college students, high school students, and employed adults) and alphas were assessed in a range between .80 and .90, and one of the scales was assessed at .69. For test-retest reliability tests taken at week 1 and week 6 was assessed at a minimum of .70, although this reliability assessment was made using only the employed adult sample (Goldman, 2010). Because the target population is high school and college students, test-retest reliability would have been more accurately expressed using the intended population (Goldman, 2010). This type of scale measures "focused constructs" (Sheehan, 2010, para. 8) and as such, the relatively high reliability coefficients demonstrated by the SIE should be expected.

All of the validity information was obtained from the employed adult sample (Goldman, 2010). One of the ways validity was assessed was by correlating the examinees' self-proclaimed interests and their scores from the interest scales (Sheehan, 2010). Scores were additionally correlated to the examinees' current occupation, and to their ideal occupations (Goldman, 2010). The correlations ranged between .41 and .68, and the mean correlation was .55 and included the 14 interest scales (Goldman, 2010). Goldman (2010) expressed dissatisfaction (again) with using employed adults rather than the target population for the assessment of validity.

Measures of Error and Generalizability
Measures of error are not used on this type of assessment because there is no true score to measure - the results are based on personal preference. Although the target population is high school and college students, it has been used successfully in adult populations as well (Sheehan, 2010). Levinson, Ohler, Maus, and Christy (2005) suggested using caution when utilizing the SIE with Latino youth, and perhaps in light of these results, caution may be prudent when utilizing this scale with members of diverse populations.

In Conclusion
If I were going to use this assessment on a client, I would likely choose the longer form. Since the latest review from the 18th MMY was not available, I chose to review the abbreviated form. I find it interesting that although many interest assessments assume that a strong interest will correlate to occupational success, this is not always the case (Whiston, 2009). The individual's ability must be considered as well, and certainly the results of this type of assessment should not be considered in isolation (Whiston, 2009).


Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2006). Career counseling: Foundations, perspectives, and applications (Custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Goldman, B., A. (2010). Test review of the Strong Interest Explorer. In R. A. Spies, J. F. Carlson, & K. F. Geisinger (Eds.), The eighteenth mental measurements yearbook. Retrieved from

Levinson, E. M., Ohler, D. L., Maus, M., & Christy, A. (2005). A Test of the Validity of the Strong Interest Explorer with a Sample of Junior High and High School Latino Youth. The High School Journal, 89(2), 55-65. doi: 10.1353/hsj.2005.0022

Sheehan, E., P. (2010). Test review of the Strong Interest Explorer. In R. A. Spies, J. F. Carlson, & K. F. Geisinger (Eds.), The eighteenth mental measurements yearbook. Retrieved from

Whiston, S. C. (2009). Principles and applications of assessment in counseling (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning

1 comment:

  1. Deborah, you make a great point about taking the individuals ability into account when using this type of assessment. I would imagine that in some instances, a student may score high in a particular area, but may not have the ability to succeed based on something like social skills. My little brother is really starting to struggle with what he wants to do when he finishes school. I think this type of test could be very helpful and telling. I'll have to talk to him about this.