Higher Education

, Volume 75, Issue 5, pp 839–854 | Cite as

The interplay between subjective abilities and subjective demands and its relationship with academic success. An application of the person–environment fit theory

  • Carla Bohndick
  • Tom Rosman
  • Susanne Kohlmeyer
  • Heike M. Buhl


In this study, we draw on person–environment fit theory to analyze whether academic success is best explained by individual abilities subjectively exceeding situational demands or by abilities matching the demands. Moreover, we disentangled effects of perceived abilities and subjective person–environment (P-E) fit on academic success. All in all, 693 teacher education students participated in an online questionnaire. Students were asked to rate general requirements of their academic programs (e.g., self-discipline) on a 5-point scale in terms of (1) their own abilities and (2) the perceived relevance for their studies. P-E fit was determined by difference scores between abilities and relevance ratings. Academic success was assessed by grades, perceived performance, and study satisfaction. Data were analyzed through structural equation modeling and suggest that academic success is best explained by a match between abilities and demands. Moreover, all three criteria for academic success were more strongly related to subjective fit than to subjective abilities.


Academic success Person–environment fit theory Demands–abilities fit Higher education 


Compliance with ethical standards


The research initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the Qualitätspakt Lehre.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla Bohndick
    • 1
  • Tom Rosman
    • 2
  • Susanne Kohlmeyer
    • 3
  • Heike M. Buhl
    • 3
  1. 1.Methodology CenterUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute for Psychology InformationTrierGermany
  3. 3.Paderborn UniversityPaderbornGermany

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