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How robust is the association between life satisfaction and value congruence? A study of constructed socio-demographic groups in a Russian national sample.

On November 27, Alena Khaptsova, a doctorate student in the department of Organizational Psychology at HSE and a researcher at the Laboratory for Socio-cultural research, took part in the “Culture matters” seminar.

Alena presented a study of the relationship between well-being and value congruence that was conducted together with Shalom H. Schwartz (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). 

Person-environment fit is one of the well-studied predictors of general life satisfaction. Value congruence – the fit between personal values and the values of relevant groups – should also be related to life satisfaction. When personal values do not contradict the values of the group it is easier to pursue important goals without experiencing interpersonal conflict of values and without being hindered by sanctions or punishment from the group. 

Past research has indicated that the relationship between value congruence and life satisfaction exists Sagiv & Schwartz, 2001; Musiol & Boehnke, 2008; Sortheix & Lonnqvist, 2014), however, the question of whether the effect is explained by interpersonal relationships or there is a genuine group-level effect remained open. All previous studies have used close others for a referent group, people, with whom the respondents maintained regular contact.

Khaptsova and Schwartz have examined whether life satisfaction can be predicted by congruity of personal values and values of people who share one's sociodemographic characteristics. The study was conducted in Russia, with 961 respondents. Participants have completed a value questionnaire (PVQ-R) and a sociodemographic instrument (sex, age, religion, years of education, and region). For the purpose of the analysis the participants were divided into 36 groups based on their sociodemograhic characterisitcs. 

The data indicated that life satisfaction can be predicted by the congruity of personal values and the values of sociodemographically similar others (β=.11; p<.001). The regression coefficient was lower than previously reported ones (β=.22 in Sortheix & Lonnqvist, 201and и r=.16 in Muisol & Boehnke, 2008), however, in Khaptsova and Schwartz's study the reference group was comprised of people with whom respondents did not maintain regular contact. 

Furthermore, the level of interpersonal conformity did not moderate the relationship, but the value of self-determination did – the lower was individual score for self-determination, the stronger the relationship between value congruity and life satisfaction. 

The study has shown that there are true group effects that influence the relationship between value congruity and life satisfaction – people who share the values of others in similar sociodemographic situation tend to be more satisfied with life.