Management Person-Environment Fit
Amy Kristof-Brown, Christina Li
  • LAST REVIEWED: 07 January 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0117


Person-environment fit (PE fit) is a conceptual derivative of person-environment interaction models in interactional psychology. Although often referred to as PE fit theory, there is no one defining theory of fit. From early conceptual writings on people being best suited for particular environments, the research on PE fit in work environments has grown to include a wide variety of conceptualizations of what it means to fit, and to what aspects of the environment does one fit “with.” Fit is generally defined by some form of congruence or match between the person and the environment. This match revolves around two basic themes: the meeting of individual needs by the supplies provided in the environment, and the demands of the environment being met by the abilities of the individual. Within the domain of PE fit, more-specific types of fit, including person-organization (PO) fit, person-job (PJ) fit, person-group (PG) fit, and person-person (PP) fit, have evolved. Although person-environment interaction models are articulated as dynamic interactions, with the person and environment mutually influencing each other over time, studies of PE fit most often capture a snapshot of fit at one point in time. The tendency toward PE fit is a naturally occurring phenomenon, leading individuals to seek environments in which they fit, and leading organizations to attract, hire, and retain people who fit. When fit declines into misfit, individuals are highly motivated to restore the balance. PE fit is generally supported as having positive consequences for individuals, including more-positive work-related attitudes, reduced stress and strain, higher performance, and lower likelihood of turnover. Its consequences at higher levels of analysis, such as workgroups or organizations, are less well understood.

General Overviews

A number of useful overviews have been published that cover the topic of PE fit. Edwards 2008 provides the most comprehensive review of PE fit theories, critiquing and comparing their progression through the years. Two handbook chapters, Ostroff 2012 and Kristof-Brown and Guay 2011, provide overviews of the empirical research most closely associated with PE fit; both are comprehensive reviews that explain the complexities of the various approaches to PE fit. Two edited books have been published on PE fit. The first, Ostroff and Judge 2007, contains several chapters that provide in-depth overviews of existing research and research methods in PE fit. The second, Kristof-Brown and Billsberry 2013, contains chapters from scholars in North America, Asia, and Europe that emphasize new directions for the study of PE fit. The proliferation of PE fit studies, however, has not been without reproach. Harrison 2007, a critical chapter, reprimands scholars of fit for becoming imprecise in their conceptualizations and for including too wide a range of ideas within the purview of PE fit research. The author recommends adopting a more narrow definition of precise match between commensurate P and E dimensions, which dictates particular methods for measurement and analysis, to advance PE fit research.

  • Edwards, Jeffrey R. “Person-Environment Fit in Organizations: An Assessment of Theoretical Progress.” Academy of Management Annals 2.1 (2008): 167–230.

    DOI: 10.1080/19416520802211503Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A comprehensive review of related theories from 1900 to 2010, including discrepancy theories of job satisfaction and theories of strain and adjustment, as well as PE fit theories. Edwards evaluates each relative to criteria for strong theories and concludes that PE fit has not made significant theoretical progress over time.

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  • Harrison, David A. “Pitching Fits in Applied Psychological Research: Making Fit Methods Fit Theory.” In Perspectives on Organizational Fit. Edited by Cheri Ostroff and Timothy A. Judge, 389–416. Organizational Frontiers. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007.

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    Critical review of PE fit theory and methods. Concludes that fit has been defined too broadly, and recommends a tighter definition of PE that is the compatibility of joint values of one or more attributes of a focal entity and a commensurate set of values of the environment.

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  • Kristof-Brown, Amy L., and Jon Billsberry, eds. Organizational Fit: Key Issues and New Directions. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

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    A collection of chapters by scholars from around the world, offering a wider range of epistemological views than is typically presented. Chapters emphasize cognitive processes and motivation for fit, as well as new areas for research, such as time, focus of comparisons, and cultural context of fit.

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  • Kristof-Brown, Amy L., and Russell P. Guay. “Person-Environment Fit.” In APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Vol. 3, Maintaining, Expanding, and Contracting the Organization. Edited by Sheldon Zedeck, 3–50. Handbooks in Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2011.

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    A comprehensive review of the various definitions, conceptualizations, and measurement approaches to PE fit research. Particular emphasis is placed on summarizing meta-analytic findings regarding the relationship of person-organization (PO), person-job (PJ), person-group (PG), and person-person (PP) fit with individual-level outcomes such as job attitudes, stress and strain, turnover, and various types of performance.

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  • Ostroff, Cheri. “Person-Environment Fit in Organizational Settings.” In The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology. Vol. 1. Edited by Steve W. J. Kozlowski, 373–408. Oxford Library of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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    A review of the theoretical foundations, conceptualizations, measurement, and levels of analysis involved in PE fit research. Particular emphasis is given to the psychological principles underlying fit—fulfillment, similarity, and compilation. Areas of debate and ambiguity in the literature are highlighted, including commensurate measurement, fit perceptions, and misfit.

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  • Ostroff, Cheri, and Timothy A. Judge, eds. Perspectives on Organizational Fit. Organizational Frontiers. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007.

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    A compilation of chapters from some of the most widely published authors in the PE fit area. They review and critique existing work on PE fit, while connecting it to other areas such as human resource systems, organizational demography, selection, and socialization.

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Historical Roots of PE Fit

The history of PE fit has been attributed as far back as Plato but is more often related to the need-press model in Murray 1938. Lewin 1951 contains the famous maxim B = ƒ (P,E)—behavior is a function of person and environment, which codified the joint influence of person and environment on individual outcomes. Interactionism or interactional psychology, as discussed in Endler and Magnusson 1976, emphasized the simple interaction of person and environment characteristics to predict outcomes. PE fit theories specified that there is more than just a statistical interaction that indicates fit—fit occurs when a match between person and environment occurs. This match could reflect need fulfillment or similarity, and need fulfillment could reflect the individual’s needs being met by something in the environment or the abilities of the person fulfilling the demands of the environment (French, et al. 1982). PE fit theory of stress and the theory of work adjustment, as seen in Dawis and Lofquist 1984, reflect both these perspectives. Similarity-based approaches to PE fit reflect the similarity-attraction paradigm, as seen in Byrne 1971, which asserts that individuals are more attracted to others who are similar to them in some way. John Holland’s vocational-choice theory (Holland 1985) is a prominent example of the similarity approach to PE fit in the vocational-choice literature, with that literature often referred to as person-vocation (PV) fit.

  • Byrne, Donn. The Attraction Paradigm. Personality and Psychopathology 11. New York: Academic Press, 1971.

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    Reports results of a series of studies that demonstrate that people are most attracted to other people who share their attitudes. The idea of similarity-based attraction has expanded beyond just attitude similarity.

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  • Dawis, René V., and Lloyd H. Lofquist. A Psychological Theory of Work Adjustment: An Individual-Differences Model and Its Applications. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

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    Proposes that work adjustment reflects (1) the correspondence between a person’s skills with the requirements of a job, which results in work being considered satisfactory by the employer, and (2) the correspondence between the reinforcers of a job or organization and the person’s values, which results in satisfying work.

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  • Endler, Norman S., and David Magnusson. “Toward an Interactional Psychology of Personality.” Psychological Bulletin 83.5 (1976): 956–974.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.83.5.956Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Reviews the strengths and weaknesses of four models of personality: trait psychology, psychodynamics, situationism, and interactionism. The interactional model emphasizes the importance of person-situation interactions and is strongly advocated by the authors.

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  • French, John R. P., Jr., Robert D. Caplan, and R. Van Harrison. The Mechanisms of Job Stress and Strain. Wiley Series on Studies in Occupational Stress. London: Wiley, 1982.

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    Reports on a comprehensive set of studies in which strain is the result of PE misfit (lack of adjustment), on needs and supplies as well as demands and abilities. The authors discuss the importance of subjective and objective assessments of fit, and how only certain types of misfit will produce strain.

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  • Holland, John L. Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985.

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    Proposes that vocational choice will be optimized when a person’s set of values, interests, job preferences, skills, and abilities is similar to those of the occupational environment. Environments are categorized into six types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. Environments are characterized by people currently in those vocations.

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  • Lewin, Kurt. Field Theory in Social Science: Selected Theoretical Papers. Edited by Dorwin Cartwright. New York: Harper, 1951.

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    Lewin summarizes his theory that individual development is a result of the inborn traits of individuals and the situations in which they are placed. The articulation of this notion in the formula B = ƒ (P,E)—behavior is a function of person and environment, which became a fundamental representation of interactional psychology.

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  • Murray, Henry A. Explorations in Personality: A Clinical and Experimental Study of Fifty Men of College Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938.

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    Describes individuals’ personalities as compilations of needs, including primary (basic needs reflecting biological demands) and secondary (psychological needs that contribute to well-being), and environments having both alpha (objective) and beta (subjective) presses to meet those needs. Emphasizes that people are motivated to have their needs met.

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Types and Conceptualizations of Fit

PE fit is a broad metaconstruct that includes many types and conceptualizations of fit. Although fit with the overall work environment can be considered, there has been considerable attention paid to differentiating between fit with specific parts of the environment. Judge and Ferris 1992 is one of the first articles acknowledging that hiring for fit might reflect multiple kinds of fit—including person-recruiter, person-supervisor, person-organization, and person-job (PJ) fit. Studies emphasizing these specific types of fit have permeated the more recent literature. Further distinction has been drawn between needs-supplies and demands-abilities fit (see French, et al. 1982, cited under Historical Roots of PE Fit), particularly with regard to PJ fit. Needs-supplies fit refers to the match between how well a person’s needs are met by what the environment provides, whereas demands-abilities fit refers to how well a person’s capabilities meet the demands of the job. Caplan 1987 asserts that commensurability of measurement is a requirement for research both on needs-supplies and demands-abilities fit. However, there are many examples of studies that invoke the concept of fit by using related but not commensurate P and E characteristics. These studies presume that fit exists when there is a significant interaction between P and E characteristics, such as between applicant personality and organizational reward systems, as illustrated in Turban, et al. 2001. Although these do not involve commensurate P and E dimensions, the underlying logic is one of P and E compatibility. Further distinctions are drawn between supplementary and complementary conceptualizations of fit, as explained in Muchinsky and Monahan 1987. Supplementary fit reflects compatibility based on similarity, and complementary fit involves compatibility based on P and E completing the other. Cable and Edwards 2004 examined whether these two conceptualizations of fit had independent effects on attitudes, or whether one worked through a mechanism of the other to influence outcomes. Their results supported independent effects. Finally, although PE fit is generally an individual-level concept, conceptualizing fit at higher levels of analysis has emerged in the early 21st century. Ostroff and Schulte 2007 explains various ways of conceptualizing complementary fit as the compilation of characteristics within teams. The authors assert that PE fit may exist at higher levels of analysis, such as the team or organizational level. Aumann and Ostroff 2006 proposes collective fit as an emergent property that reflects PE fit at higher levels of analysis.

  • Aumann, Kerstin A., and Cheri Ostroff. “Multi-level Fit: An Integrative Framework for Understanding HRM Practices in Cross-Cultural Contexts.” Multi-level Issues in Social Systems 5 (2006): 13–79.

    DOI: 10.1016/S1475-9144(06)05002-8Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Articulates the importance of alignment between human resource management (HRM) practices and individual values, organizational values, and societal values. Introduces the concept of collective fit, which occurs when fit between an individual’s values and the values conveyed by HRM practices occur for most employees in an organization.

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  • Cable, Daniel M., and Edwards, Jeffrey R. “Complementary and Supplementary Fit: A Theoretical and Empirical Integration.” Journal of Applied Psychology 89.5 (2004): 822–834.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.5.822Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Tests three competing models of how complementary fit, operationalized as need fulfillment, and supplementary fit, operationalized as value congruence, predict outcomes. Their results support independent effects of both types of fit on job attitudes.

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  • Caplan, Robert D. “Person-Environment Fit Theory and Organizations: Commensurate Dimensions, Time Perspectives, and Mechanisms.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 31.3 (1987): 248–267.

    DOI: 10.1016/0001-8791(87)90042-XSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Reviews two basic types of fit from French, et al. 1982 (cited under Historical Roots of PE Fit): first, needs-supplies fit, which reflects “What can I get out of this job?”; and second, demands-abilities fit, which reflects “What am I expected to provide?” Argues that commensurate measurement is necessary to assess either type of fit.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., and Gerald R. Ferris. “The Elusive Criterion of Fit in Human Resources Staffing Decisions.” Human Resource Planning 15.4 (1992): 47–67.

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    Describes how the reality of hiring for fit includes multiple types of fit assessments beyond just demands-abilities PJ fit. Four functions of hiring for fit are described: fit as a means of control, fit as work force homogeneity, fit as a job-related criterion, and fit as an organizational-image enhancer.

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  • Muchinsky, Paul M., and Carlyn J. Monahan. “What Is Person-Environment Congruence? Supplementary versus Complementary Models of Fit.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 31.3 (1987): 268–277.

    DOI: 10.1016/0001-8791(87)90043-1Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Theoretical paper explaining the two fundamental ways that individuals can be “matched.” Supplementary fit refers to when a person embellishes, supplements, or possesses characteristics similar to others in the environment. Complementary models occur when the individual serves to make the environmental characteristics whole or complete.

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  • Ostroff, Cheri, and Mathis Schulte. “Multiple Perspectives of Fit in Organizations across Levels of Analysis.” In Perspectives on Organizational Fit. Edited by Cheri Ostroff and Timothy A. Judge, 3–69. Organizational Frontiers. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007.

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    This chapter explains how fit is naturally a cross-level phenomenon and how it can be viewed from multiple levels of analysis. The authors call for research that examines fit at a higher level of analysis such as the group level, where fit among different characteristics of group members influences team processes.

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  • Turban, Daniel B., Chung-Ming Lau, Hang-Yue Ngo, Irene H. S. Chow, and Steven X. Si. “Organizational Attractiveness of Firms in the People’s Republic of China: A Person-Organization Fit Perspective.” Journal of Applied Psychology 86.2 (2001): 194–206.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.86.2.194Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical paper demonstrating noncommensurate PO fit. Results showed that although Chinese applicants were generally more attracted to foreign-owned firms than state-owned firms, applicants with more risk aversion and lower need for pay were more attracted to state-owned firms than were other applicants.

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Person-Organization Fit

Early work on person-organization (PO) fit is attributed to Tom 1971, which demonstrates that individuals preferred organizations that had similar personalities to their own. In 1987, in remarks first given as a presidential address to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and later published, Benjamin Schneider presented the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) model to explain the natural tendencies that individuals and organizations have to attain similarity-based fit (Schneider 1987). There is good support for this resulting in increased personality homogeneity in organizations, as discussed in Bradley-Geist and Landis 2012. A specific theory of PO fit was introduced in Chatman 1989, in which PO fit is defined as the congruence of the norms and values of individuals and their organizations. Jennifer Chatman’s study of public accounting firms in Chatman 1991 was a seminal empirical paper on the topic. Bowen, et al. 1991 introduces the idea of organizations specifically designing selection systems to attract and hire applicants with personalities and values that match the organization. Vancouver and Schmitt 1991, a study with secondary-school principals and teachers, demonstrates that increases in goal congruence between teachers and others in the organization increase levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment and decrease levels of turnover intentions. The authors’ results show that fit on goals with key personnel in the organization can influence many individual attitudes. Kristof 1996 provides the first comprehensive review of the PO fit literature, differentiating it from other types of PE fit, including person-job (PJ) and person-group (PG) fit, and explicating the variety of ways in which it has been operationalized in different traditions.

  • Bowen, David E., Gerald E. Ledford Jr., and Barry R. Nathan. “Hiring for the Organization, Not the Job.” The Academy of Management Executive 5.4 (1991): 35–51.

    DOI: 10.5465/AME.1991.4274747Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a paper written for executives, the authors argue for the importance of hiring employees on the basis of the fit of their personalities and values with the organization, in addition to their match on abilities with the job demands. Examples of specific companies that do this are provided.

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  • Bradley-Geist, Jill C., and Ronald S. Landis. “Homogeneity of Personality in Occupations and Organizations: A Comparison of Alternative Statistical Tests.” Journal of Business Psychology 27.2 (2012): 149–159.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10869-011-9233-6Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Paper summarizes and evaluates studies supporting the ASA-model homogeneity hypothesis. The authors advocate for a direct statistical test of homogeneity, including average deviation and rwg when testing homogeneity, rather than multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) tests to evaluate within-group agreement. Results using direct tests support the ASA hypothesis in new data.

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  • Chatman, Jennifer A. “Improving Interactional Organizational Research: A Model of Person-Organization Fit.” Academy of Management Review 14.3 (1989): 333–349.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMR.1989.4279063Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The first paper to use the term “person-organization fit,” this theory paper advocates for a return to interactional research. Chatman defines PO fit as “the congruence between the norms and values of organizations and the values of persons” (p. 339), and she advocates for using a Q-sort methodology to assess fit.

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  • Chatman, Jennifer A. “Matching People and Organizations: Selection and Socialization in Public Accounting Firms.” Administrative Science Quarterly 36.3 (1991): 459–484.

    DOI: 10.2307/2393204Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An empirical study of accountants, demonstrating that individuals whose value profiles are more similar to their organization’s adjust more quickly to the firm, are more satisfied, and intend to and do remain in the organization longer. More-rigorous socialization prior to organizational entry was shown to increase value similarity.

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  • Kristof, Amy L. “Person-Organization Fit: An Integrative Review of Its Conceptualizations, Measurement, and Implications.” Personnel Psychology 49.1 (1996): 1–49.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1996.tb01790.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Review paper presenting a comprehensive model of all types of PO fit, including complementary and supplementary. Distinguishes PO fit from PJ, PG, and person-vocation fit and outlines the benefits and drawbacks of various measurement approaches. Develops propositions for future research on PO fit.

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  • Schneider, Benjamin. “The People Make the Place.” Personnel Psychology 40.3 (1987): 437–453.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1987.tb00609.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Primary citation for the ASA model, which asserts that individuals will be attracted to, selected by, and retained in organizations that are similar to themselves. Organizations’ personality and values are based on the people in them. Thus, the similarity cycle is natural and self-reinforcing, resulting in increasing organizational homogeneity.

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  • Tom, Victor R. “The Role of Personality and Organizational Images in the Recruiting Process.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 6.5 (1971): 573–592.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0030-5073(71)80008-9Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One of several studies conducted to demonstrate that individuals prefer to join organizations that are viewed as similar to themselves.

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  • Vancouver, Jeffery B., and Neal W. Schmitt. “An Exploratory Examination of Person‐Organization Fit: Organizational Goal Congruence.” Personnel Psychology 44.2 (1991): 333–352.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00962.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A study of school principals and teachers, demonstrating that a teacher’s goal congruence with other members of the organization (principals and other teachers) is positively related to teachers’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment and negatively related to intentions to quit.

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Person-Job Fit

Matching employees’ abilities with job demands, a key form of person-job (PJ) fit, has been the traditional focus of selection practices since post–World War II. In 1980, John Wanous described a matching model of selection in which the match between individuals’ preferences for rewards and available rewards produces positive job attitudes and reduces the likelihood of turnover, thus bringing needs-supplies PJ fit firmly into the domain of staffing (Wanous 1980). Breaugh 1992, a book on recruitment, brings together these two perspectives into a model that specifically predicts applicants’ job selection on the basis both of needs-supplies and demands-abilities PJ fit. Edwards 1991 presents the most comprehensive qualitative review of the literature prior to 1990 on PJ fit. This review finds that needs-supplies fit has been investigated more frequently than demands-abilities fit, when it is considered to include studies on need satisfaction such as those using Lyman Porter’s needs satisfaction questionnaire, as explained in Porter 1962. Reflecting demands-abilities fit, a separate literature on overqualification/underemployment has emerged, as in Feldman 1996; Erdogan, et al. 2011; and McKee-Ryan and Harvey 2011. A two-sample empirical study in Holtom, et al. 2002 demonstrates that both work status congruence (assessing an employee’s fit for work preferences) and underemployment leads to many work-related attitudes and behaviors. Studies directly assessing underqualification are less common in the organizational literature, with the assumption in selection being that underqualified employees are worse performers. An alternative view is presented in a study in the Netherlands (Hamersma, et al. 2015), which demonstrates some positive personal consequences, such as learning, for people who are underqualified.

  • Breaugh, James A. Recruitment: Science and Practice. Kent Human Resource Management. Boston: PWS-Kent, 1992.

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    Widely readable book presenting inclusive model of person-job matching that includes the match of the person’s abilities compared to job requirements and the person’s needs/wants compared to job rewards. Breaugh positions these as drivers of the candidate’s self-selection into particular jobs, which subsequently increases levels of PJ fit.

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  • Edwards, Jeffrey R. “Person-Job Fit: A Conceptual Integration, Literature Review, and Methodological Critique.” In International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Vol. 6. Edited by Cary L. Cooper and Ivan T. Robertson, 283–357. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 1991.

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    A comprehensive qualitative review of PJ fit research prior to 1990. Reviews both needs-supplies and demands-abilities fit research and explains that needs-supplies fit (including studies of needs satisfaction) is studied more frequently than demands-abilities fit.

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  • Erdogan, Berrin, Talya N. Bauer, José María Peiró, and Donald M. Truxillo. “Overqualified Employees: Making the Best of a Potentially Bad Situation for Individuals and Organizations.” Industrial and Organizational Psychology 4.2 (2011): 215–232.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-9434.2011.01330.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Reviews the literature on the specific type of PJ demands-abilities misfit known as overqualification, defined as “a situation where the individual has surplus skills, knowledge, abilities, education, experience, and other qualifications that are not required by or utilized on the job” (p. 218). Practitioner-friendly text with recommendations for managers.

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  • Feldman, Daniel C. “The Nature, Antecedents and Consequences of Underemployment.” Journal of Management 22.3 (1996): 385–407.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920639602200302Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents one of the most comprehensive initial theoretical models of underemployment, including dimensions of education, work duties, field, wages, and permanence of the job. Propositions are made regarding possible antecedents and consequences.

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  • Hamersma, Marije, Arjen Edzes, and Jouke van Dijk. “Underqualification as an Opportunity for Low-Educated Workers.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 33.1 (2015): 83–103.

    DOI: 10.1068/c12274rSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Study reporting possible positive effects of underqualification, including learning opportunities and advancement, in contrast to most studies that demonstrate negative consequences for job performance. Examines personal, organizational, and labor market conditions leading to underqualification.

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  • Holtom, Brooks C., Thomas W. Lee, and Simon T. Tidd. “The Relationship between Work Status Congruence and Work-Related Attitudes and Behaviors.” Journal of Applied Psychology 87.5 (2002): 903–915.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.5.903Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An empirical study with two different samples that shows how both composite underemployment and an employee’s match with his or her preference for work status (full-time versus part-time) influences job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover, and performance.

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  • McKee-Ryan, Frances M., and Jaron Harvey. “‘I Have a Job, but . . .’: A Review of Underemployment.” Journal of Management 37.4 (2011): 962–996.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206311398134Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A comprehensive review of the theoretical models of underemployment, including the role of PJ fit. This article reviews past empirical research on antecedents and outcomes of underemployment and proposes future recommendations for further research in this area.

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  • Porter, Lyman W. “Job Attitudes in Management I: Perceived Deficiencies in Need Fulfillment as a Function of Job Level.” Journal of Applied Psychology 46.6 (1962): 375–384.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0047808Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Describes a study of two thousand managers that investigates the perceived need fulfillment deficiencies in five categories, closely corresponding to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The degree of perceived deficiency was obtained by subtracting “How much is in your current position?” from “How much should be in your current position?”

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  • Wanous, John P. Organizational Entry: Recruitment, Selection, and Socialization of Newcomers. Addison-Wesley Series on Managing Human Resources. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1980.

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    A helpful guidebook to the recruitment, selection, and socialization practices of organizations. Good both for practitioners and academics. Based on the theory of work adjustment, it presents a model of needs-supplies PJ fit that underlies job attitudes and turnover intentions.

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Person-Group Fit

With the increased use of teams in organizations, studies examining person-group (PG) fit started to gain popularity in the late 1990s. Werbel and Johnson 2001, a conceptual piece, is one of the first papers to introduce a model of PG fit, which proposes that both supplementary and complementary aspects of PG fit are important for selection. PG fit has been tested along a variety of dimensions, including values, goals, personality traits, and workstyles. Elfenbein and O’Reilly 2007 integrates literatures on PG fit and demographic dissimilarity, showing that values fit compensates for the negative effects of demographic dissimilarity. A longitudinal study, DeRue and Morgeson 2007, shows the importance both of supplementary (values) and complementary (role) PG fit characteristics (similar to person-job fit, but in teams). The authors also demonstrate that values-based fit is quite stable, whereas role fit changes over time. Although most PG fit studies examine fit at the individual level of analysis (i.e., the individual’s fit to the team, predicting individual-level outcomes), a series of studies in Ostroff and Rothausen 1997 report stronger effects for fit at higher levels of analysis (i.e., the team or organization). This work introduces the idea that although PG fit exists at the individual level of analysis, PG fit at the team level may also exist as a related but distinct construct to influence team-level outcomes. DeRue and Hollenbeck 2007 discusses team-level PG fit, describing it as separated into internal fit, where team members’ attributes fit together, and external fit, the fit of the team with the external environment. Kristof-Brown, et al. 2014 elaborates on the idea of team-level PG fit, defining collective fit as “team members’ shared assessment of compatibility with each other and with the requirements of the task environment” (p. 971).

  • DeRue, D. Scott, and John R. Hollenbeck. “The Search for Internal and External Fit in Teams.” In Perspectives on Organizational Fit. Edited by Cheri Ostroff and Timothy A. Judge, 259–285. Organizational Frontiers. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007.

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    Introduces the view that fit in teams can be differentiated into internal and external fit. The authors focus on team members’ evaluation of how the team members fit together as a whole (internal fit) and on the alignment of team characteristics with the external environment (external fit).

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  • DeRue, D. Scott, and Frederick P. Morgeson. “Stability and Change in Person-Team and Person-Role Fit over Time: The Effects of Growth Satisfaction, Performance, and General Self-Efficacy.” Journal of Applied Psychology 92.5 (2007): 1242–1253.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.5.1242Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A longitudinal study demonstrating two types of perceived fit in teams: values based and role based. Values-based fit, conceptualized as values congruence, is stable after interpersonal knowledge is shared among team members. In contrast, team-related roles (person-role fit) is dynamic and evolves over time on the basis of performance.

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  • Elfenbein, Hillary Anger, and Charles A. O’Reilly III. “Fitting In: The Effects of Relational Demography and Person-Culture Fit on Group Process and Performance.” Group & Organization Management 32.1 (2007): 109–142.

    DOI: 10.1177/1059601106286882Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An empirical study that integrates demographic dissimilarity and values fit. Examining American volunteer groups, the authors demonstrate that fit on values can compensate for the negative effect of demographic dissimilarity.

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  • Kristof-Brown, Amy L., Jee Young Seong, David S. DeGeest, Won-Woo Park, and Doo-Seung Hong. “Collective Fit Perceptions: A Multilevel Investigation of Person-Group Fit with Individual-Level and Team-Level Outcomes.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 35.7 (2014): 969–989.

    DOI: 10.1002/job.1942Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Defines collective fit as an emergent team-level concept that results from repeated interactions of individuals to build a collective perception of how well the team members fit together and with the team’s task. Empirically differentiates collective fit, which predicts team-level outcomes, from PG fit, which predicts individual-level outcomes.

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  • Ostroff, Cheri, and Teresa J. Rothausen. “The Moderating Effect of Tenure in Person-Environment Fit: A Field Study in Educational Organizations.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 70.2 (1997): 173–188.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8325.1997.tb00641.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study of teachers in schools that demonstrates that over time, person and organization values become more aligned. Notably establishes that the moderating effect of tenure is stronger at the organizational level than the individual level. This suggests stronger relationships for fit at higher levels of analysis.

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  • Werbel, James D., and Danny J. Johnson. “The Use of Person–Group Fit for Employment Selection: A Missing Link in Person–Environment Fit.” Human Resource Management 40.3 (2001): 227–240.

    DOI: 10.1002/hrm.1013Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One of the first reviews dedicated to PG fit, which proposes that the compatibility between a new hire and the team is based on attaining both supplementary (work values and norms) and complementary PG fit (broad-based competencies). Both types of PG fit come together to predict group cooperation and synergy.

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Person-Person Fit

Studies of person-person (PP) fit have included a wide range of topics, beginning with early studies of supervisor-subordinate attitude similarity, as seen in Turban and Jones 1988. Studies reflecting the perspective of supplementary fit, which is that fit occurs between two similar individuals, have expanded to include studies of person-recruiter fit (as discussed in Adkins, et al. 1994), person-coworker fit (explained in Antonioni and Park 2001), and leader-follower fit (as seen in Zhang, et al. 2012). Leader-follower fit, reflecting a complementary needs-supplies perspective, has also been studied, as is evident in Lambert, et al. 2012. Results of that study demonstrate that followers’ outcomes are maximized when the leader provides the desired level of structure, but that all followers benefit from high levels of leader support. Thus, matching a leader on all dimensions is not necessary for optimal follower outcomes. We point out the distinction between PP fit, as we describe it, which conveys the dyadic fit between two relevant people. In contrast, use of the term “person-person fit” in van Vianen 2000 explains the match between an employee and the average of collective others’ characteristics in the organization. We would call the latter an objective measure of person-organization (PO) fit because the aggregate of people is representing the organization, not an individual person with whom fit might exist. Thus, care should be taken when using the PP fit term, since it is sometimes used to convey different things.

  • Adkins, Cheryl L., Craig J. Russell, and James D. Werbel. “Judgments of Fit in the Selection Process: The Role of Work Value Congruence.” Personnel Psychology 47.3 (1994): 605–623.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1994.tb01740.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study demonstrating that recruiters distinguished between judgments of candidates’ overall employability and PO fit. However, it is person-recruiter value similarity or similarity of the candidate with a universal value profile, not person-organization value similarity, that drove recruiters’ evaluations of general employability and PO fit.

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  • Antonioni, David, and Heejoon Park. “The Effects of Personality Similarity on Peer Ratings of Contextual Work Behaviors.” Personnel Psychology 54.2 (2001): 331–360.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2001.tb00095.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study using polynomial regression to demonstrate that peer-peer similarity in conscientiousness predicted higher levels of peer ratings of contextual work behaviors. Congruence effects were not found for the traits of agreeableness, openness, extraversion, or neuroticism.

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  • Lambert, Lisa Schurer, Bennett J. Tepper, Jon C. Carr, Daniel T. Holt, and Alex J. Barelka. “Forgotten but Not Gone: An Examination of Fit between Leader Consideration and Initiating Structure Needed and Received.” Journal of Applied Psychology 97.5 (2012): 913–930.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0028970Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines person-supervisor fit on leader consideration and initiating structure needed and received. Initiating structure was an antagonistic supply—attitudes increased as supplies approached needed levels and decreased as supplies exceeded needed levels. Consideration was a synergistic supply—outcomes remained favorable even after consideration received exceeded what was needed.

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  • Turban, Daniel B., and Allan P. Jones. “Supervisor-Subordinate Similarity: Types, Effects, and Mechanisms.” Journal of Applied Psychology 73.2 (1988): 228–234.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.73.2.228Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study comparing three types of supervisor-subordinate similarity: perceived similarity, perceptual similarity on what is important for a pay increase, and actual similarity on demographic characteristics. Perceived similarity had the strongest relationship with all outcomes.

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  • van Vianen, Annelies E. M. “Person-Organization Fit: The Match between Newcomers’ and Recruiters’ Preferences for Organizational Cultures.” Personnel Psychology 53.1 (2000): 113–149.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00196.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An empirical study that demonstrates the distinction between fit as the match between newcomers’ preferences for organizational values and their supervisors’ and peers’ perceptions of organizational values (PO fit) and their personal preferences for values (PP fit). The author found stronger support for PP value congruence than for PO value congruence.

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  • Zhang, Zhen, Mo Wang, and Junqi Shi. “Leader-Follower Congruence in Proactive Personality and Work Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Leader-Member Exchange.” Academy of Management Journal 55.1 (2012): 111–130.

    DOI: 10.5465/amj.2009.0865Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical demonstration that leader-member exchange (LMX) is highest when the leader’s and the follower’s level of proactive personality is aligned. LMX partially mediates proactive personality alignment and work outcomes, including job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

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Outcomes of PE Fit

Because of the large range of content covered in studies of PE fit, the outcomes associated with it include almost every job attitude and work-related behavior. Direct relationships are captured effectively by meta-analyses that examine the various types of fit and their related outcomes. Early meta-analyses focused on vocational fit, as seen in Assouline and Meir 1987, and more-recent meta-analyses examined the other types of fit. Kristof-Brown, et al. 2005; Arthur, et al. 2006; and Oh, et al. 2014 present the most comprehensive meta-analyses on the topics. Each of these contains tables of the relationships accounting for measurement error and effects for moderators that are useful to anyone wanting to know more about the outcomes of PE fit.

  • Arthur, Winfred, Jr., Suzanne T. Bell, Anton J. Villado, and Dennis Doverspike. “The Use of Person-Organization Fit in Employment Decision Making: An Assessment of Its Criterion-Related Validity.” Journal of Applied Psychology 91.4 (2006): 786–801.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.4.786Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Investigates the relationships between various types of person-organization (PO) fit and a range of performance criteria. Fit measurement is supported as a key moderator, with direct perceived ratings of PO fit having the strongest relationship with all performance outcomes.

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  • Assouline, Moti, and Elchanan I. Meir. “Meta-analysis of the Relationship between Congruence and Well-Being Measures.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 31.3 (1987): 319–332.

    DOI: 10.1016/0001-8791(87)90046-7Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Meta-analyzes results from forty-one studies to demonstrate that congruence on John Holland’s typology of vocational types was not significantly related to achievement, or stability of employment, but was related to satisfaction.

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  • Kristof-Brown, Amy L., Ryan D. Zimmerman, and Erin C. Johnson. “Consequences of Individuals’ Fit at Work: A Meta-analysis of Person-Job, Person-Organization, Person-Group, and Person-Supervisor Fit.” Personnel Psychology 58.2 (2005): 281–342.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2005.00672.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Distinguishes among PO, person-job (PJ), person-group (PG), and person-person (PP) fit. Tables present the widest range of job attitudes, behaviors, and stress/strain as outcomes for each type of fit. Measurement approach and type of fit are key moderators. Polynomial regression studies are qualitatively reviewed.

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  • Oh, In-Sue, Russell P. Guay, Kwanghyun Kim, et al. “Fit Happens Globally: A Meta‐analytic Comparison of the Relationships of Person–Environment Fit Dimensions with Work Attitudes and Performance across East Asia, Europe, and North America.” Personnel Psychology 67.1 (2014): 99–152.

    DOI: 10.1111/peps.12026Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces the distinction between relational fit (PG and person-supervisor/PS) and rational fit (PJ and PO). Calculates relationships of each type of fit with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intent to quit, and performance. Relationships are stronger for relational fit in East Asian countries, and stronger for rational fit in Western countries.

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Measurement of Fit

Fit measures fall into five categories. First are direct measures of perceived fit, which ask individuals to respond to direct questions about how well they fit with their environment. The most widely used measure is discussed in Cable and DeRue 2002. The second type is indirect measures of subjective fit, in which individuals report their personal and work environment characteristics. The Comparative Emphasis Scale (CES), as explained in Meglino, et al. 1989, is often used in this manner, calculating fit as a similarity index between self-reported P and E value profiles. The third approach is indirect, objective assessment, which involves individuals reporting their personal characteristics, and someone else describing the environment. Fit is calculated as an index of match between these two separately reported assessments. The organizational culture profile (OCP) is often used to assess objective fit, as described in O’Reilly, et al. 1991. In the late 1990s, indirect fit measures were upended by a series of papers exposing methodological and conceptual flaws in difference score and profile similarity indexes as measures of fit. Jeffrey Edwards proposed polynomial regression combined with three-dimensional surface graphs as a fourth approach to assessing fit, as seen in Edwards and Parry 1993. Edwards 1995 also introduced a method for assessing P and E congruence as a dependent variable. These papers shifted many researchers to using either polynomial regression or direct perceived measures. Although polynomial regression allows for very precise relationships to be portrayed, fit is never reported or calculated as a variable; fit relationships are suggested by a pattern of relationships in the data. Edwards, et al. 2006 explicitly addresses the relationships between various types of fit measures. The authors describe three general approaches to measuring fit: atomistic (P and E as separate entities), molecular (perceived comparison between P and E), and molar (perceived match between P and E). These descriptions map loosely onto the objective, subjective, and perceived measures previously described, demonstrating minimal relationships between the various fit measures and concluding that the measures assess potentially different concepts. The fifth approach is to infer fit from the interaction of two noncommensurate P and E measures, such as the interaction of applicant personality traits and organizational reward systems predicting organizational attraction, as discussed in Cable and Judge 1994. As with polynomial regression, fit is not assessed as a separate variable. Empirical support of a predicted interaction between P and E variables provides evidence of fit.

  • Cable, Daniel M., and D. Scott DeRue. “The Convergent and Discriminant Validity of Subjective Fit Perceptions.” Journal of Applied Psychology 87.5 (2002): 875–884.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.5.875Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Develops and validates a measure of perceived fit on three dimensions—person-organization (PO) fit based on value congruence, person-job (PJ) fit based on needs-supplies fit, and PJ fit based demands-abilities fit. PO fit was the best predictor of organizational outcomes, and needs-supplies PJ fit was a stronger predictor of job and career attitudes.

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  • Cable, Daniel M., and Timothy A. Judge. “Pay Preferences and Job Search Decisions: A Person-Organization Fit Perspective.” Personnel Psychology 47.2 (1994): 317–348.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1994.tb01727.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Policy-capturing investigation of whether pay preferences influence job search decisions depending on particular personality characteristics. Uses PO fit theory as the explanation for why particular types of people would be more attracted to certain pay packages rather than others.

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  • Edwards, Jeffrey R. “Problems with the Use of Profile Similarity Indices in the Study of Congruence in Organizational Research.” Personnel Psychology 46.3 (1993): 641–665.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1993.tb00889.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One of the earliest works by Edwards to highlight the problems in profile similarity indices/indexes (PSIs). These include conceptual ambiguity, discarding information about the direction of differences, concealing the source of differences, and imposing highly restrictive constraints on the coefficients.

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  • Edwards, Jeffrey R. “Alternatives to Difference Scores as Dependent Variables in the Study of Congruence in Organizational Research.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 64.3 (1995): 307–324.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1995.1108Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Extends earlier work by Edwards to the problems with outcome variables of PSIs. An alternative procedure is recommended that allows explicit tests of the relationships that the PSIs are intended to represent.

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  • Edwards, Jeffrey R., Daniel M. Cable, Ian O. Williamson, Lisa Schurer Lambert, and Abbie J. Shipp. “The Phenomenology of Fit: Linking the Person and Environment to the Subjective Experience of Person-Environment Fit.” Journal of Applied Psychology 91.4 (2006): 802–827.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.4.802Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines relationships between atomistic fit (which examines perceptions of person and environment separately), molecular fit (which measures the perceived comparison between person and environment), and molar fit (which focuses on the perceived similarity between person and environment). Molar fit was more strongly related to affect than to the other fit measures.

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  • Edwards, Jeffrey R., and Mark E. Parry. “On the Use of Polynomial Regression Equations as an Alternative to Difference Scores in Organizational Research.” Academy of Management Journal 36.6 (1993): 1577–1613.

    DOI: 10.2307/256822Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces the polynomial-regression approach with three-dimensional surface graphing to illustrate precise relationships between two commensurate variables and an outcome. Guidance is provided for testing slopes and curvatures along the congruence and incongruence lines to test fit-related hypotheses.

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  • Meglino, Bruce M., Elizabeth C. Ravlin, and Cheryl L. Adkins. “A Work Values Approach to Corporate Culture: A Field Test of the Congruence Process and Its Relationship to Individual Outcomes.” Journal of Applied Psychology 74.3 (1989): 424–432.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.74.3.424Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Study reporting the final form of the CES, which measures the relative importance of four work values. Employees’ profiles were compared to their perceptions of plant managers’ profiles (subjective fit) as well as managers’ actual value profiles (objective fit) to predict attitudes and performance.

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  • O’Reilly, Charles A., III, Jennifer Chatman, and David F. Caldwell. “People and Organizational Culture: A Profile Comparison Approach to Assessing Person-Organization Fit.” Academy of Management Journal 34.3 (1991): 487–516.

    DOI: 10.2307/256404Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Develops a Q-sort-based measure to assess objective value congruence between individuals and organizations. The authors describe the development and validation of the OCP instrument, which predicted attitudes and turnover up to two years post-assessment and is one of the most highly used value congruence measures.

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Antecedents to Fit

Although PE fit is often used to predict outcomes, there are many studies devoted to the antecedents of fit in organizations. Building on the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) framework as seen in Schneider 1987 (cited under Person-Organization Fit), which describes natural tendencies of individuals and organizations to gravitate toward each other on the basis of similarity, many of the studies of PE fit antecedents have focused on organizational entry as a primary time when fit is established. Bretz, et al. 1993 is one of the first studies to demonstrate that recruiters are interested in finding people who fit their organization rather than with a specific job. Yet, its results suggest that work experience and universally desirable characteristics, as well as idiosyncratic preferences, often underlie recruiters’ perceptions of person-organization (PO) fit. Daniel Cable and Timothy Judge did a set of studies that examine PO fit determinants from the perspective both of the applicant and the recruiter (Cable and Judge 1996, Cable and Judge 1997). Their results suggested that both sides form fit-related judgments on the basis of perceived values and that these judgments predict perceived PO fit, which predicts job offers from recruiters and job pursuit intentions from applicants. Their results also show the impact of perceived PO fit on later job attitudes. Building on these studies, Kristof-Brown 2000 compares the types of characteristics used by recruiters to assess PO versus person-job (PJ) fit during hiring, demonstrating that each contributes unique predictions to hiring recommendations. Dineen, et al. 2002 takes the study of PO fit and recruitment to the web, demonstrating that web-based information can be used to manipulate applicants’ perceptions of PO fit, particularly for those applicants who are low in self-esteem. Cable and Charles Parsons expanded the focus on organizational entry to organizational socialization as a mechanism for producing higher levels of PO fit in new employees (Cable and Parsons 2001). Alternatively, Cooper-Thomas, et al. 2004 finds that socialization can make newcomers’ perceptions of PO fit more realistic and actually decline over time. Finally, Caldwell, et al. 2004 demonstrates that organizational change, and the effectiveness by which it is implemented, can change perceived levels both of PJ and PO fit.

  • Bretz, Robert D., Jr., Sara L. Rynes, and Barry Gerhart. “Recruiter Perceptions of Applicant Fit: Implications for Individual Career Preparation and Job Search Behavior.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 43.3 (1993): 310–327.

    DOI: 10.1006/jvbe.1993.1050Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A qualitative study of what recruiters use to determine whether an applicant fits their organization. Recruiters’ perceptions of fit were influenced by job-related coursework or experience, general (rather than unique) desirable personal characteristics, and idiosyncratic recruiter preferences.

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  • Cable, Daniel M., and Timothy A. Judge. “Person–Organization Fit, Job Choice Decisions, and Organizational Entry.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 67.3 (1996): 294–311.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1996.0081Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study that demonstrates that subjective value congruence between applicants’ values and the values they perceive in an organization predicts job seekers’ and new employees’ perceived PO fit and their subsequent perceptions of organizational attractiveness, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions.

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  • Cable, Daniel M., and Timothy A. Judge. “Interviewers’ Perceptions of Person–Organization Fit and Organizational Selection Decisions.” Journal of Applied Psychology 82.4 (1997): 546–561.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.82.4.546Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study that demonstrates that objective value congruence between applicants and organizations predicts subjective value congruence, calculated between recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ values and organizational values. This, in turn, predicts recruiters’ perceptions of applicants’ PO fit, which predicts hiring recommendations more than objective qualifications.

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  • Cable, Daniel M., and Charles K. Parsons. “Socialization Tactics and Person-Organization Fit.” Personnel Psychology 54.1 (2001): 1–23.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2001.tb00083.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Longitudinal study that examines newcomers’ fit perceptions at three points in time (pre-job search, immediately post-hire, and eighteen months post-graduation). Results show that sequential and fixed (versus variable and random) and serial and investiture (versus disjunctive and divestiture) socialization tactics resulted in newcomer value changes and increased PO fit perceptions.

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  • Caldwell, Steven D., David M. Herold, and Donald B. Fedor. “Toward an Understanding of the Relationships among Organizational Change, Individual Differences, and Changes in Person-Environment Fit: A Cross-Level Study.” Journal of Applied Psychology 89.5 (2004): 868–882.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.5.868Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examined changes in perceived PJ and PO fit outcomes of large-scale organizational change. Results demonstrated that management support was related to perceived change in PJ fit, not PO fit, whereas fairness of the change was more strongly related to perceived change in PO fit.

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  • Cooper-Thomas, Helena D., Annelies van Vianen, and Neil Anderson. “Changes in Person–Organization Fit: The Impact of Socialization Tactics on Perceived and Actual P–O Fit.” European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 13.1 (2004): 52–78.

    DOI: 10.1080/13594320344000246Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Assessed objective and perceived PO fit post-hire and four months later, demonstrating that socialization influences perceptions of PO fit. Objective fit did not change, because newcomers’ values did not change, but their perceptions of fit declined and became more aligned with objective fit after socialization.

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  • Dineen, Brian R., Steven R. Ash, and Raymond A. Noe. “A Web of Applicant Attraction: Person–Organization Fit in the Context of Web-Based Recruitment.” Journal of Applied Psychology 87.4 (2002): 723–734.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.4.723Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Laboratory study demonstrating that both objective PO value congruence and web-based feedback regarding applicants’ PO fit are significant predictors of applicants’ perceptions of PO fit. Both are also predictors of organizational attraction. Self-esteem moderated the effects, such that objective fit, versus fit feedback, had less impact on individuals with low self-esteem.

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  • Kristof-Brown, Amy L. “Perceived Applicant Fit: Distinguishing between Recruiters’ Perceptions of Person-Job and Person-Organization Fit.” Personnel Psychology 53.3 (2000): 643–671.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00217.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Demonstrated that recruiters use knowledge, skills, and abilities more often to assess PJ fit, and values and personality traits more often to assess PO fit. Both types of fit predicted unique variance in hiring recommendations following interviews. Provides evidence of the distinctiveness between PJ and PO fit for recruiters.

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Researchers are beginning to pay explicit attention to the condition of misfit and what it prompts in individuals. Although low levels of fit are commonly related to poorer work-related attitudes and outcomes, some studies specifically emphasize the negative consequences of misfit, including deviance exhaustion and cynicism, such as can be seen in Mulki, et al. 2006. Harold, et al. 2016 demonstrates that individuals with low levels of fit experience higher levels of frustration at work, resulting in higher levels of counterproductive work behaviors. This study is notable because of the explicit focus on the negative consequences of multiple types of fit, including perceived person-organization (PO), person-group (PG), person-supervisor (PS), person-job (PJ), and person-vocation (PV) fit. Preliminary work on misfit was useful for demonstrating boundary conditions of fit. For example, Erdogan, et al. 2004 demonstrates that PO value congruence did not have an impact on job- and career-related attitudes when other factors were considered, including support from the manager and organization. Similarly, Resick, et al. 2007 and Hu, et al. 2015 find that good fit with one aspect of the work environment can sometimes compensate for poor fit in others. These studies demonstrate that there are boundary conditions for when misfit is detrimental. Research using polynomial regression, as explained in Edwards and Rothbard 1999, has also demonstrated that certain types of misfit are not always detrimental to the individual. The authors emphasize the difference between over- and undersupply, each of which could have different consequences for individuals. If an oversupply could be stored or used to help fill other needs, the misfit could lead to positive rather than negative results. Although the assumption of the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) model in Schneider 1987 (cited under Person-Organization Fit) is that individuals will leave work environments where there is misfit, Wheeler, et al. 2005 proposes four strategies—in addition to exit—that individuals may use to respond to misfit. Vogel, et al. 2016 demonstrates empirically how job crafting and leisure activity outside work can mitigate the negative consequences on PO misfit on values.

  • Edwards, Jeffrey R., and Nancy P. Rothbard. “Work and Family Stress and Well-Being: An Examination of Person-Environment Fit in the Work and Family Domains.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 77.2 (1999): 85–129.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1998.2813Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Articulates how needs-supplies misfit could differentially affect well-being. Excess supplies could lead to depletion or interference, worsening well-being, or could carryover or be conserved, improving well-being. In most cases, well-being increased as supplies increased toward needs and then leveled off or continued to increase as supplies surpassed needs.

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  • Erdogan, Berrin, Maria L. Kraimer, and Robert C. Liden. “Work Value Congruence and Intrinsic Career Success: The Compensatory Roles of Leader-Member Exchange and Perceived Organizational Support.” Personnel Psychology 57.2 (2004): 305–332.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2004.tb02493.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study demonstrating that high leader-member exchange (LMX) and perceived organization support can compensate for low levels of PO value congruence when predicting job and career satisfaction. When high LMX and perceived organization support existed, PO value congruence was not related to the satisfaction outcomes.

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  • Harold, Crystal M., In-Sue Oh, Brian C. Holtz, Soojung Han, and Robert A. Giacalone. “Fit and Frustration as Drivers of Targeted Counterproductive Work Behaviors: A Multifoci Perspective.” Journal of Applied Psychology 101.11 (8 August 2016): 1513–1535.

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    Two field study investigations of the relationship between multiple types of fit (PO, PG, PS, PJ [demands-abilities and needs-supplies], PV) and frustration targeted toward those foci. Results supported strong negative relationships between most types of fit and frustration, with frustration further relating to counterproductive work behaviors toward those foci.

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  • Hu, Jia, Berrin Erdogan, Talya N. Bauer, Kaifeng Jiang, Songbo Liu, and Yuhui Li. “There Are Lots of Big Fish in This Pond: The Role of Peer Overqualification on Task Significance, Perceived Fit, and Performance for Overqualified Employees.” Journal of Applied Psychology 100.4 (2015): 1228–1238.

    DOI: 10.1037/apl0000008Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Empirical study demonstrating that employees who perceive themselves as overqualified have more-positive perceptions and higher in-role and extra-role performance, but only when their average peers’ overqualification is also high. This demonstrates that PG fit can still occur during PJ demands-abilities misfit in the form of overqualification.

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  • Mulki, Jay Prakash, Fernando Jaramillo, and William B. Locander. “Emotional Exhaustion and Organizational Deviance: Can the Right Job and a Leader’s Style Make a Difference?” Journal of Business Research 59.12 (2006): 1222–1230.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2006.09.001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Reports that perceived PJ misfit on demand-abilities and leadership style was positively related to organizational deviance through the partial mediators of emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment.

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  • Resick, Christian J., Boris B. Baltes, and Cynthia Walker Shantz. “Person-Organization Fit and Work-Related Attitudes and Decisions: Examining Interactive Effects with Job Fit and Conscientiousness.” Journal of Applied Psychology 92.5 (2007): 1446–1455.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.5.1446Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A study of interns illustrating PO fit is more strongly related to job choice decisions when needs-supplies and demands-abilities PJ fit is low and conscientiousness is high. This study portrays how one type of fit can compensate for another type of misfit.

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  • Vogel, Ryan M., Jessica B. Rodell, and John W. Lynch. “Engaged and Productive Misfits: How Job Crafting and Leisure Activity Mitigate the Negative Effects of Value Incongruence.” Academy of Management Journal 59.5 (2016): 1561–1584.

    DOI: 10.5465/amj.2014.0850Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A field study that demonstrates the capacity of job crafting and leisure activities outside work to mitigate the negative effects of value incongruence on employee engagement, citizenship behaviors, and task performance.

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  • Wheeler, Anthony R., M. Ronald Buckley, Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben, Robyn L. Brouer, and Gerald R. Ferris. “‘The Elusive Criterion of Fit’ Revisited: Toward an Integrative Theory of Multidimensional Fit.” In Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management. Vol. 24. Edited by Joseph J. Martocchio, 265–304. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0742-7301(05)24007-0Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Proposes an integrative model of five types of fit (PV, PO, PG, PJ, and person–preferences for culture) that relate to a person’s self-concept. Suggests prototype matching as how individuals assess fit across multiple dimensions. Proposes five mechanisms for dealing with misfit: exit, voice, adaptation, impression management, and inaction.

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New Directions in Fit Research

In response to critiques of theoretical languishing and ambiguity in fit conceptualizations, scholars have responded by pushing new boundaries in fit research. One early-21st-century push is to better understand the role of affect in PE fit. Yu 2009 presents a theoretical model of affective influence in PE fit theory, with affect serving both as a cause and effect of PE fit. Momentum is also building around better understanding how fit changes and evolves over time. Shipp and Jansen 2011 is a theoretical paper that addresses how individuals consider past, present, and future conditions when they are assessing their fit in current situations. The authors describe various fit trajectories that people can follow, cautioning that snapshots of fit cannot capture the richness of these trajectories. An empirical study combined these two emerging directions and is discussed in Gabriel, et al. 2014, which reports evidence of a complex relationship between affect and fit over time. Methodologically, there has been a push to study fit through using more than conventional positivist methods, and additional attention is being directed to the links between fit and motivation. Yu 2013 presents a theoretical model of psychological motives that drive individuals to actively manage their fit with the environment. Greguras and Diefendorff 2009 empirically demonstrates that the various types of PE fit help individuals achieve different fundamental needs, including autonomy, relatedness, and competence. The authors’ results position fit as motivational, because different types of fit help individuals accomplish their fundamental goals. These motivational models underscore much of the 2010s work on Misfit. Methodologically, Billsberry, et al. 2013 provides compelling reasons to study fit through qualitative studies, mapping, and other techniques that allow individuals to express more richly how they evaluate and reevaluate their perceptions of fit. Finally, new conceptual work is being done to examine whether PE fit (in its various forms) is as relevant in other cultures, as explained in Lee and Ramaswami 2013, and how different types of fit could be used to provide the foundation for organizational competencies, as seen in Werbel and DeMarie 2005.

  • Billsberry, Jon, Danielle L. Talbot, and Véronique Ambrosini. “Mapping Fit: Maximizing Idiographic and Nomothetic Benefits.” In Organizational Fit: Key Issues and New Directions. Edited by Amy L. Kristof-Brown and Jon Billsberry, 124–141. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781118320853.ch6Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Advocates for a combination of idiographic (focus on individual thoughts and perspectives) and nomothetic (emphasis on making predictions for most people) techniques to better study the domain of PE fit. By combining multiple methods, different types of questions can be addressed, and theoretical progress can be made.

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  • Gabriel, Allison S., James M. Diefendorff, Megan M. Chandler, Christina M. Moran, and Gary J. Greguras. “The Dynamic Relationships of Work Affect and Job Satisfaction with Perceptions of Fit.” Personnel Psychology 67.2 (2014): 389–420.

    DOI: 10.1111/peps.12042Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Answers the call to consider the role of affect and time in fit research. One of the first empirical studies to show that fit changes within individuals over time and that fit precedes affect, but suggests there also could be a reciprocal causality.

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  • Greguras, Gary J., and James M. Diefendorff. “Different Fits Satisfy Different Needs: Linking Person-Environment Fit to Employee Commitment and Performance Using Self-Determination Theory.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94.2 (2009): 465–477.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0014068Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Demonstrates that person-organization (PO), person-group (PG), and person-job (PJ) demands-abilities fit are related to organizational commitment and performance through different processes of psychological needs satisfaction from self-determination theory: autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

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  • Lee, Yih-teen, and Aarti Ramaswami. “Fitting Person–Environment Theories into a National Cultural Context.” In Organizational Fit: Key Issues and New Directions. Edited by Amy L. Kristof-Brown and Jon Billsberry, 222–240. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781118320853.ch10Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that individuals in non-Western cultures will have different triggers and outcomes of PE fit. Because of different values, different types of fit may be more salient than others, and the strength of the relationship between fit and particular outcomes may vary by culture.

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  • Shipp, Abbie J., and Karen J. Jansen. “Reinterpreting Time in Fit Theory: Crafting and Recrafting Narratives of Fit in Medias Res.” Academy of Management Review 36.1 (2011): 76–101.

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    Expands the focus of fit theory to include narratives of past, present, and future states of fit. Theorizes that individuals make decisions about their current fit, while comparing it to fit in past environments and anticipated fit.

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  • Werbel, James D., and Samuel M. DeMarie. “Aligning Strategic Human Resource Management and Person–Environment Fit.” Human Resource Management Review 15.4 (2005): 247–262.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2005.10.001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents theoretical propositions that draw vertical linkages between PJ fit and functionally based organizational competencies, PG fit and innovation-based competencies, and PO fit and culturally based competencies. Horizontal linkages are also proposed between (1) selection criteria, training and development, performance appraisal, and compensation and (2) the three types of fit.

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  • Yu, Kang Yang Trevor. “Affective Influences in Person-Environment Fit Theory: Exploring the Role of Affect as Both Cause and Outcome of P-E Fit.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94.5 (2009): 1210–1226.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0016403Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Theorizes about the role of affect (emotion, moods, and attitudes) as an antecedent to fit, rather than an outcome. Proposes affective-consistency theory (if emotions are positive, fit must be good) and hedonism (individuals are motivated to achieve positive emotions from situations) to explain the relationship between affect and fit.

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  • Yu, Kang Yang Trevor. “A Motivational Model of Person–Environment fit: Psychological Motives as Drivers of Change.” In Organizational Fit: Key Issues and New Directions. Edited by Amy L. Kristof-Brown and Jon Billsberry, 21–49. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

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    Presents multiple motives for achieving high levels of fit, including the drives for consistency, hedonism, uncertainty reduction, control, and belonging. These drives make people highly motivated to manage fit through the use of heuristics, approach and avoidance strategies, and coping and proactive behaviors.

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