ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (5): 527-554.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00527

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The relationship between perceived overqualification and individual performance and mediating mechanisms: A meta-analytic review and examination of emotional and cognitive processing systems and cultural contexts

YANG Weiwen1,2, LI Chaoping1()   

  1. 1 Department of Organizational and Human Resources Management, School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
    2 Fujian Light and Textile Industrial (Holdings) CO., LTD, Fujian 350001, China
  • Received:2020-03-04 Published:2021-05-25 Online:2021-03-29
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the school level intelligent computing cloud platform of Renmin University of China provides computing resources. In response to the open science initiative of Acta Psychologica Sinica, the data and R language code of this paper have been uploaded to:


In recent years, overqualification, a special phenomenon of person-environment misfit, has attracted a lot of scholars’ attention, but the conclusions from related studies remain controversial. A meta-analysis of 321 articles including 383 independent studies, 945 effect sizes and 575061 study samples was conducted: (1) The direct effect test showed that there was a significant positive correlation between perceived overqualification (POQ) and negative emotions (i.e., anger, boredom). There was no significant correlation between POQ and positive self-concepts (i.e., self-esteem, self-efficacy), but a significant positive correlation exists between POQ and negative extra-role behaviors (i.e., counterproductive work behavior, turnover). There was no significant correlation between positive extra-role behaviors (i.e., creativity, organizational citizenship behavior, etc.) and task performance. (2) The meta-analysis of structural equation modeling (SEM) shows that POQ can augment negative emotions, and further promote negative extra-role behaviors while decreasing positive extra-role behaviors and task performance. Meanwhile, POQ can increase positive self-concepts, and can furthermore enhance positive extra-role behaviors and task performance while decreasing negative extra-role behaviors; (3) Collectivism played a moderating role in the process of POQ affecting individual performance through the emotional-cognitive processing system. In the high collectivistic cultural context, POQ had a lower level of negative effect on negative emotions and had a positive effect on positive self-concepts; in the low collectivistic cultural context, POQ had a stronger negative effect on negative emotions, and a negative effect on positive self-concepts. (4) The relationship between POQ and person-job fit (P-J fit) was stronger than that between POQ and person-organization fit (P-O fit). Compare with P-J fit and P-O fit, POQ had the strongest effect on strain and turnover. The findings of this study provide insights into understanding the complex mechanisms and boundary conditions of POQ on individual performance, and provide evidence for how to manage overqualified employees.

Key words: perceived overqualification, negative emotions, positive self-concepts, person-organization fit, person-job fit, extra-role behavior