How Personal Style Scales (PSS) Measure Different Personality Components

In our previous blog posts, we covered the General Occupational Themes (GOT), Basic Interest Scales (BIS), and Occupational Scales (OS). Completing the Strong assessment structure, we will cover Personal Style Scales (PSS) next.


The Personal Style Scales were not part of the original Strong Interest Inventory assessment. The PSS’s were added to bring another dimension into the interpretation of results. These scales allow interpreters to look at how personality characteristics may play into a student’s interests in certain jobs. Specifically, the PSS’s help individuals explain their style preference in learning, playing, or living in general.

The Personal Style Scales measure different personality components that are important to consider when exploring the work world. There are five personal style scales:

  1. Work Style
  2. Learning Environment
  3. Leadership Style
  4. Risk Taking
  5. Team Orientation

Defining the PSS’s

Work Style

Work Style measures what people like to work with. 

Depicted by the photo below, those who prefer to work with ideas, data, and things fall on the left side of the Work Style scale. Those who prefer to work with people fall on the right side. 

The Work Style scale is the only PSS that can be plotted vertically on the RIASEC. Those who like to work with ideas, data and things are most similar to Realistic and Investigative. 

  • These people like scientific and technical activities and may be mechanically inclined.
  • They may choose majors in physical sciences, machine trades, engineering, biological sciences, computer and information sciences and mathematics. 

Those who like working with people are near the Enterprising and Social themes. 

  • These people like working with others, helping others in need, and developing business relationships. 
  • They may choose college majors like education, journalism, business and social sciences. 

Here are some sample jobs:

Works With Ideas/Data/Things Works With People
Biologist Community Service Organization Director
Chemist Flight Attendant
Computer Programmer/Systems Analyst  High School Counselor
Mathematician Human Resources Director
Physicist Social Worker

Learning Environment

The Learning Environment scale measures how individuals like to learn. 

Those who like to learn using a practical or a hands on method measure towards the left side of the scale. Typical majors include machine trades, vocational technical majors, business, law enforcement, and agriculture.

Those who like to learn in a more traditional academic setting prefer to learn by listening and reading over learning by doing measure towards the right side of the scale. Typical majors include cultural/musical, verbal or research emphasis, language/literature, history, journalism, physical sciences and sciences. 

Here are sample jobs:

Practical Academic
Production Worker ELSL Instruction
Automobile Mechanic Editor
Farmer/Rancher Urban & Regional Planner
Military Enlisted Psychologist
Radiologic Technologist Public Administrator
Optician Sociologist 

Leadership Style

The Leadership Style scale looks at how people lead and manage others.

On the left side we have those who lead by example and are not comfortable taking charge of others. They would rather do tasks themselves rather than direct others. Typical majors include machine trades, physical sciences, mathematics, biological sciences, and agriculture. 

On the right side we have those who like to direct others and are comfortable in interpersonal settings. They like meeting, directing, persuading, and leading others. They are driven showing good initiative and take charge when others don’t step up. Potential majors include things like journalism, social sciences, law, and history. 

Here are some sample jobs:

Leads by Example Directs Others
Auto Mechanic Broadcaster
Chemist Corporate Trainer
Farmer Elected Public Official
Mathematician High School Counselor
Physicist Minister
Plumber Public Administrator
Radiological Technologist Public Relations Director

Risk Taking

The Risk Taking scale measures how comfortable you are with taking risks.

Those who like to play it safe fall towards the left side of the scale. They avoid danger, risks, and try to maximize their personal safety. They are uncomfortable trying new activities without career planning and carefully weigh out decisions. 

Those who enjoy taking risks fall towards the right side of the scale. These people take risks, act on the spur of the moment, are spontaneous, and sometimes act recklessly. 

Interestingly, as people get older they tend to gravitate towards the end of the scale and like to take less risks.

Here are some sample jobs:

Plays It Safe Takes Risks
College Instructor Law Enforcement Officer
Administrative Assistant Military Officer
Librarian Realtor
Musician Technical Sales Representative
Speech Pathologist Firefighter

Team Orientation

The Team Orientation scale reflects team-based or individual activities. 

Those who like to accomplish tasks individually fall on the left side of the spectrum. These people are individual contributors and enjoy solving problems on their own.

Those who score high on Team Orientation enjoy working with others and collaborating with a team to achieve a collective goal. 

Here are some sample jobs:

Accomplishes Tasks Independently Accomplishes Tasks as a Team
Artist Operations Manager
Graphic Designer School Administrator
Musician Sales Manager
Medical Illustrator Nursing Home Administrator
University Professor Rehabilitation Counselor

We have officially covered all four scales from the Strong and SuperStrong assessments! Understanding the four scales helps to explain the validity of the  assessment results. It is important to remember that the results do not indicate what you may be good at, but simply may be a good career choice for you to consider based on your interests and personal style!

How Personal Style Scales (PSS) Measure Different Personality Components

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