The technique called Work Importance Study – WIS is a practical realisation of Donald Super’s concept, which is holistic in its nature, integrates the development approach, multi-factor development conditions and social sources of tasks resulting from the adopted roles.

According to Super’s concept life is a fulfilment of developmental tasks which an individual faces at certain stages of his life: birth, growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, disengagement and death, Super defined maturity as the extent to which an individual is able to deal with these stage-appropriate tasks. He emphasises that the above mentioned stages tend to reflect own perception of self and undertaken tasks rather than the chronological age of an individual. He assumed that professional and personal development are inextricably linked.

The primary aim of the work undertaken by the WIS team was to devise a method for measuring the level and content of work motivation and the process of adopting various social roles, as well as to analyse the notion of professional engagement and career with regard to the perceived quality of life.



WIS resulted from work of an international consortium of independent teams of psychologists, where Poland was represented by Elżbieta Hornowska and Władysław Jacek Paluchowski from the Institute of Psychology at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

The effect of the work was a book Life roles, values and careers: international findings of the Work Importance Study published in 1995.

The author of the theoretical concept behind results interpretation was prof. dr hab. Władysław Jacek Paluchowski.

The tests were implemented in the TestOutcomes environment by the ALTA IT team.



The method devised by the team led by professor Super consisted of three parts:

  1. The Values Scale
  2. The Life Roles Inventory
  3. The Role Values Inventory

The second and third part are called The Salience inventory

The Values Scale is an inventory consisting of 105 items regarding 21 values.

The Salience Inventory consists of 170 items closely linked to the Values Scale. The results obtained in this part is an expression of emotional importance attached to each role (degree of role identification) and a presentation of what an individual has achieved and expects to achieve while completing this particular role. The evaluation of commitment and role importance performed with the use of The Salience Inventory relates to the following 5 areas of activity: studying, working, community service, home and family, leisure.


Scope of application and interpretation

The WIS method is a practical instrument for collecting information about the system of values of job candidates or employees. The obtained knowledge may be applied in order to:

  • achieve the best possible match between individuals and jobs they do (select, seek) and vice versa matching the job descriptions to the people occupying these positions
  • effective use of available human resources
  • matching people to new tasks, positions and organisational structures
  • introducing effective outplacement procedures
  • setting career paths for employees
  • create labour market development programmes with view to effectively reduce unemployment

Another area of application may be the use of collected information as part of psychological support by for example helping an individual to make autonomous decisions, developing skills necessary for shaping one’s own future, developing competencies and decision-making skills. The information gathered with the use of WIS instrument may be used to help:

  • people planning to change their professional career
  • people with little or outdated work experience
  • people needing coaching or retraining
  • people with adaptation difficulties