Indulgence versus restraint describes hedonistic behavior: how freely can people satisfy their basic needs and desires, how strict social norms are followed and gratification suppressed and regulated.


Indulgence: “A tendency to allow to allow relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun.”

Restraint: “A conviction that such gratification needs to be curbed and regulated by strict social norms.”


Restraint (low indulgence versus restraint index)

  • Gratification suppressed and regulated
  • Expects (material) reward for job done well
  • Easily feels treated unfair
  • Status objects important, e.g. phone, laptop, watch, car


Indulgence (high indulgence versus restraint index)

  • Freely satisfy basic needs and behaviour
  • Cannot easily be motivated with material reward
  • Enjoys moment rather than uses time to compare with others
  • Objects need to fulfil purpose not status


Example comparing German and French culture – France having the higher indulgence index value – in this advertisement:


Countries leading the index on the

  • Indulgence side: Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Nigeria, Columbia, Trinidad and Sweden.
  • Restraint side : Pakistan, Egypt, Latvia, Ukraine, Albania, Belarus, Estonia and Iraq.


Source: Cultures and Organizations by Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov