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Evaluating Person-Environment Fit in Cross-Cultural Contexts


People are acutely aware when they do not fit in or match well with others around them. The field of person-environment fit has sought to assess the positive benefits accrued to people who are more similar to their environment, often defined as the average characteristics of those around them. The purpose of the present study is to assess person-environment fit effects on psychological well-being in a cross-cultural context. This study uses measures of personality traits and cultural values assessed in 63 countries as part of the International Situations Project. Results were conducted using polynomial regression and plotted using Response Surface Analysis (RSA). Greater person-environment fit for almost all personality traits and values tested was associated with greater happiness for individuals across cultural contexts. However, the strongest predictors of happiness overall were from person effects, specifically personality traits, rather than environmental effects or person-environment fit effects. Additionally, the positive benefits for person-environment fit were typically only accrued for individuals already high on a particular trait or value in the socially desirable direction, suggesting the benefits of fitting in with a particular cultural group cannot outweigh the effects of socially desirable traits. Future work should focus on individual differences less strongly related to happiness and with less universal social desirability to further parse apart the potential benefits of person-environment fit.

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