Resilient Personalities. the Moderating Role of Human Values on the Negative Relationship Between Economic Hardship and Subjective Well-Being Across European Welfare States

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Tim Reeskens , Sociology, Tilburg University
Leen Vandecasteele , Sociology, University of Tuebingen
The economic crisis that still impacts European economies has caused growing interest among social scientists to study the extent and under which conditions the experience of economic strain affects subjective well-being. Not all are equally affected by hardship; some people are more resilient in the face of hardship than others. The study of resilience has hinted at the importance of mobilizing resources in the face of hardship as pivotal. So far, studies largely focused on the cushioning impact of material resources (i.e. welfare state provision). In this paper, we redirect the attention on the cushioning role of personality attributes, such as human values, which are socialized at a young age, crystallized by early adulthood, and largely stable over the lifespan. Our approach follows the Schwartz human values inventory, which has shown to be largely resistant against the impact of economic strain. We hypothesize that particularly self-transcendence and openness-to-experience values bring about resilience, whereas conservation and self-enhancement values amplify the negative impact of economic strain on subjective well-being. We further study the mobilization of such human values across various welfare states, building on the hypothesis that generous welfare states require lower individual demands in coping with economic adversity. To do so, the 2010 wave of the European Social Survey is analyzed. In this study, representative samples of more than 20 countries have been asked about the experience of economic strain, subjective well-being, and their human values. Our study will inform a growing scholarship on resilience across European democracies.