The Wealth and Competitiveness of National Economic Systems Moderates the Importance of Big Five Personality Dimensions for Life Satisfaction of Employed Persons in 18 Nations

Michael Harris Bond, Qing Lu, Vivian M.C. Lun, Peter B. Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Measures of personality have been shown to predict employee satisfaction at work and in life, but these findings arise mostly from research conducted in national cultures of Anglo heritage. To broaden the generality of such findings, we explore the relationships between Big Five dimensions of personality and satisfaction with life across representative samples of 13,265 employed persons in 18 nations. We argue that the strength of relationships between these personality dimensions and life satisfaction will be moderated by a national economic culture characterized by wealth and by competitiveness, since employees derive their satisfaction with life from the personality qualities especially valued in such economic systems. Using data from the World Values Survey and its Wave 6 short-form measure of the Big Five, we find that the dimensions of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability predict higher life satisfaction pan-nationally for employed persons. Cross-level moderation effects were found: national wealth enhances the linkage of conscientiousness and emotional stability to life satisfaction; agreeableness links to life satisfaction in wealthier but not in poorer nations; extroversion predicts life satisfaction in more competitive nations but not in less competitive nations. To explain this variability in the relationships of Big Five personality dimensions with the life satisfaction of employed persons, we reason that the national cultures of wealth and of competitiveness surrounding working life establish an incentive context within which enactments of these personality dispositions will generate greater social and personal rewards from the experience of work, yielding higher levels of life satisfaction among employed persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-282
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Big Five personality dimensions
  • World Values Survey
  • life satisfaction
  • national economic competitiveness
  • national wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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