According to the study, the most hospitable regions in the world are the Middle East and Latin America.

The travel and tourism industry shovels 7.6 trillion USD into the world economy each year. You would think such a giant would be immediately apparent to anyone, but that is not the case. Despite the size and power of human hospitality, it is a concept that has been utterly invisible to the eyes of scientists until now.

Psychology in the 20th century exclusively used disease-based models meant to cure disorders.

A 2019 academic study by Biswas-Diener published in the International Journal of Wellbeing has shed light on the hidden giant that separates me from you.

This research offers a refreshing new perspective from the world of psychology rather than the world of business. This study is one of the first attempts to explore Hospitality as a psychological dimension.

The most hospitable regions in the world

According to the study, the most Hospitable regions in the world are the Middle East and South America. The most Hospitable country measured was Iran by a wide margin. The second most Hospitable country was India, and the least Hospitable country measured was Singapore.

Hospitality correlates to happiness…but what is it?

“The very strongest association with Hospitality was the ability to see the perspective of others. Thus, Hospitality represents more than simple sociability, and seems to rest on feelings of togetherness with others, concern for their wellbeing, and positive feelings toward them.” (Diener 2019) #

Hospitality is something every country claims in its tourism advertisements. The travel and tourism industry accounts for more than 95% of the research that has ever been conducted on hospitality.

This study was the first of its kind on Hospitality through the lens of positive psychology. It was conducted by an international team of researchers. They measured responses from 1,600 people spanning 11 countries. Their findings also analyzed literature both modern and ancient—such as the Hávamál: The Sayings of the Vikings.

It seems Hospitality is a combination of two things. One is behaviour and the other is attitude.

  1. It is a conscious transaction between the host and guest in which the host shares with the guest.
  2. And it is a quality of personality or an ‘attitude of welcoming.’

Hospitality is when the host welcomes their guest into the hosts’ territory and sharing occurs.

In a time when friendship is on the decline and ‘hangout buddies%’ are on the rise, some insight on sharing and welcoming might go a long way for our social lives. Hospitality is one of the reasons why positivity is important.

What Hospitality is NOT? (the surprising part!)

This study splits clean breaks between our understanding of ‘Generosity,’ and ‘Hospitality.’

Purchasing a movie ticket for a friend who forgot his wallet, for instance, is generous but not—by definition—Hospitable.

You can be anonymously generous. You cannot be anonymously Hospitable.

Hospitality was found to be different from generosity and service. Of course, the three ideas share boundaries, but that is obvious — you already know that.

Hospitality requires face-to-face interaction. Unlike generosity, there is welcoming within Hospitality. What this study finds is that even if the behaviour is online, there cannot be anonymity in Hospitality, because this would chip away from the ‘element of welcoming’ that has to occur. There is not necessarily any welcoming in Generosity. You can be anonymously generous. Simply, Generosity is a ‘liberal attitude toward giving of one’s own resources.’

Surprisingly, there was no correlation between openness and Hospitality. Conscientiousness and neuroticism were also not correlated. 

Hospitability across cultures

Hospitability was found to be moral across culture. 

Do you think hospitable people are good people? Most do. The difference between the most Hospitable countries and the least Hospitable countries is the degree to which that is true. Iranian participants scored 6.5 on this question, while Australians scored 4.9 and Singaporeans scored 4.6.

It seems likely that Iran stood out as this study’s most Hospitable country# (by far) because Islam has an ancient tradition of opening your doors to strangers in need. This applies double for Muslim strangers. Therefore, Iranian culture fosters this behaviour-attitude because it is expected of “good people.”

Singapore and Australia were significantly less Hospitable than all the other nations measured.

In conclusion

What is cool about this study on positivity is that there is no money-making motivation behind it. It was a purely scientific study. And no, Iran’s tourism agency is not paying me to write this!

The most interesting conclusions are:

  • The strongest association with Hospitality is the ability to consciously see the perspective of others.
  • Good news for you if you are the party host in your group! Hospitality turned out to predict higher wellbeing.
  • Hospitality is very different from generosity.
  • Hospitality is often decided by morality.
  • Extroverts are more Hospitable than introverts.
  • Women are significantly more Hospitable than men.
  • Married people are more Hospitable.
  • Older people are more Hospitable.

Remember there is value in keeping your doors open, even if it comes with a little risk!



# Biswas-Diener, R., Kushlev, K., Su, R., Goodman, F., Kashdan, T. & Diener, E. (2019). Assessing and understanding hospitality: The Brief Hospitality Scale. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9(2), 14-26. doi:10.5502/ijw.v9i2.839

Remember That Species Called “Friendship”? by Vaibhav Mehta.


    Facebook Comments

    Comments to: The World’s Most Hospitable Countries | All about the psychology of hospitality

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Attach images - Only PNG, JPG, JPEG and GIF are supported.