Psychology Happiness
by
Shigehiro Oishi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0030

Introduction

In psychological science, “subjective well-being” is the term most often used in place of the popular term “happiness.” Subjective well-being consists of a person’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life rather than the momentary mood state of happiness. Although psychologists have been interested in subjective well-being since the inception of psychology in the late 19th century, systematic research on this topic did not begin until the late 1970s and the early 1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s several psychologists started using terms such as “psychological well-being” and “eudaimonia” in place of “subjective well-being” to emphasize the aspects of the good life that are not well captured by pleasure and pain (e.g., meaning in life and personal growth). The present bibliography provides a general overview of the scientific field of subjective and psychological well-being followed by a list of informative books and articles on key issues.

General Overviews

At this point, subjective well-being is one of the most popular topics in psychological science. Although there are books and articles on this topic dating back to the late 1800s, the concept of happiness and therefore the study of happiness dissipated in the 1940s, just as the concept of emotion was questioned in the 1930s and 1940s under the influence of behaviorism. Even Henry Murray, the genius who successfully measured implicit motives, such as the need for affiliation, gave up and declared, “Aristotle’s assertion that the only rational goal of goals is happiness has never been successfully refuted as far as we know, but, as yet, no scientist has ventured to break ground for a psychology of happiness” (Murray and Kluckhohn 1948, p. 13). Although survey researchers included questions regarding happiness in the 1940s to the 1960s, very few mainstream psychologists studied happiness and related concepts during that time. The first comprehensive review on “avowed happiness” appeared in Wilson 1967. This review had a limited impact on the field, however, despite the fact that it was published in Psychological Bulletin (cited under Journals), one of the most prestigious journals in psychology. Perhaps most psychologists at the time still believed that happiness was not something that could be scientifically investigated. Nevertheless, the antagonism against the scientific study of happiness became gradually weaker with the cognitive revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Bradburn 1969, an influential book on emotional well-being, introduced the new measure of positive and negative affect and showed the relative independence of positive and negative affect. Several years later Philip Brickman and colleagues published their famous paper Brickman, et al. 1978 on hedonic adaptation. Then Ed Diener published a comprehensive review on subjective well-being in Psychological Bulletin (Diener 1984) and finally legitimized the study of happiness in psychological science. It should be noted, however, that Hadley Cantril and Angus Campbell (see Cantril 1965; Campbell, et al. 1976) should also be credited as pioneers of subjective well-being, as their books on the quality of life were important inspirations for the later generation of well-being researchers. In a related vein, Martin E. P. Seligman and Chris Peterson and their colleagues have promoted positive psychology since the late 1990s (see Seligman 2002 for review). Subjective well-being has been a major component of positive psychology, and the increasing visibility of positive psychology also helped expand the scope of subjective well-being research.

  • Bradburn, Norman M. 1969. The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago: Aldine.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is one of the first books that discussed psychological well-being as the central thesis.

    Find this resource:

    • Brickman, Philip, Dan Coates, and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman. 1978. Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 36.8: 917–927.

      DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.36.8.917Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This is one of the most famous papers in the history of subjective well-being. It reports the surprisingly small difference in self-reported happiness and enjoyment of mundane activities between paraplegics and lottery winners. Based on these findings, Brickman and colleagues proposed their famous hedonic treadmill theory of happiness.

      Find this resource:

      • Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, and Willard L. Rodgers. 1976. The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Using a large national survey, these researchers summarize various issues related to life satisfaction, in particular demographic factors, such as marital status, income, number of children, and satisfaction with various life domains.

        Find this resource:

        • Cantril, Hadley. 1965. The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          In this book the author introduced his famous ladder scale of life satisfaction. This book also includes cross-cultural data on life satisfaction.

          Find this resource:

          • Diener, Ed. 1984. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 95:542–575.

            DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            The most cited review paper on the science of subjective well-being. This review summarized most practical (measurement) and conceptual issues up to the early 1980s and ignited the scientific study of subjective well-being.

            Find this resource:

            • Murray, Henry Alexander, and Clyde Kluckhohn. 1948. Outline of a conception of personality. In Personality in nature, society, and culture. Edited by Clyde Kluckhohn and Henry Alexander Murray, 3–32. New York: Knopf.

              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              This is one of the most influential books on personality. In the introductory chapter Murray and Kluckhohn discuss their rationale for defining personality in terms of tension reduction rather than happiness.

              Find this resource:

              • Seligman, Martin E. P. 2002. Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press.

                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                In this book the author introduced the field of positive psychology to a general audience.

                Find this resource:

                • Wilson, Warner. 1967. Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychological Bulletin 67:294–306.

                  DOI: 10.1037/h0024431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  The first comprehensive review on the scientific research of happiness, covering research mainly from the 1930s to the mid-1960s.

                  Find this resource:

                  Textbooks

                  There have been a very few textbooks specifically written for a college course on happiness. Argyle 1987 is one of the first comprehensive textbooks that explored the fundamental issues, such as measurement and predictors of happiness. Myers 1992, The Pursuit of Happiness, is written for the general public, yet it summarizes important findings from the scientific research on happiness. Whereas these two books were ideal introductory textbooks, Kahneman, et al. 1999 is one of the first handbooks on this topic specifically written for advanced researchers. This book has been used as a textbook for an advanced undergraduate- or a graduate-level course on this topic. Although the chapters in Kahneman, et al. 1999 represent a wide range of topics, there are no chapters written by the proponents of “psychological” well-being. To this end, Sheldon 2004 is unique. This book summarizes the self-determination perspective on well-being research. Eid and Larsen 2008 is an edited book on the science of subjective well-being that presents up-to-date findings in various areas of subjective well-being. Like Kahneman, et al. 1999, however, this book also does not include any chapters on “psychological” well-being (e.g., meaning in life, purpose). Diener, et al. 2009 also summarizes up-to-date findings on the science of well-being. Unlike other books, this one focuses on the implications of the well-being literature for public policies.

                  • Argyle, Michael. 1987. The psychology of happiness. London: Methuen.

                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    This is one of the first textbooks on happiness. Although dated, the author covers the main research topics on happiness, ranging from measurement to individual differences to money to relationships.

                    Find this resource:

                    • Aspinwall, Lisa G., and Ursula Staudinger. 2003. A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

                      DOI: 10.1037/10566-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      This is an edited book on positive psychology. Most chapters in this book are written by the leading scholars, such as Martin E. P. Seligman, Paul Baltes, Ellen Berscheid, Walter Mischel, and Daniel Kahneman. The particular focus is on human strengths, including wisdom, close relationships, willpower, optimism, and positive affect.

                      Find this resource:

                      • Diene, Ed, Richard Lucas, Ulrich Schimmack, and John Helliwell. 2009. Well-being for public policy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334074.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This book, written by three psychologists and an economist, offers an up-to-date summary of major issues in subjective well-being research.

                        Find this resource:

                        • Eid, Michael, and Randy J. Larsen, eds. 2008. The science of subjective well-being. New York: Guilford.

                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          This book is a collection of chapters by former students, colleagues, and family members of Ed Diener.

                          Find this resource:

                          • Kahneman, Daniel, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz. 1999. Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            This is one of the first handbooks on subjective well-being, a collection of chapters by leading researchers on most areas of subjective well-being research.

                            Find this resource:

                            • Myers, David G. 1992. The pursuit of happiness: Who is happy—and why. New York: Avon.

                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              This is written by the master textbook writer David G. Myers. It is very easy to read and full of interesting scientific findings.

                              Find this resource:

                              • Sheldon, Kennon M. 2004. Optimal human being: An integrated multi-level perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                This book summarizes a large body of research on well-being from the perspective of self-determination theory.

                                Find this resource:

                                Reference Works

                                The reference guides described here were written primarily for graduate students or professors in psychology and related disciplines. Wilson 1967 was the first comprehensive review of the scientific research on happiness. The second major comprehensive review was Diener 1984. This paper popularized the scientific study of subjective well-being and is one of the most frequently cited papers in the scientific research on happiness. In 1999 Ed Diener and his colleagues (Diener, et al. 1999) updated Diener 1984, summarizing the most important findings between 1984 and 1998. Diener and colleagues (Diener, et al. 2003) wrote a paper summarizing individual and cultural differences in subjective well-being. Oishi 2012 is one of the most up-to-date summaries of subjective well-being research. This chapter illustrates the historical antecedents to subjective well-being research and the contributions of personality and social psychology, respectively and together, to the scientific study of well-being. In addition, Ryff and Singer 1998 presents the most persuasive challenge to subjective well-being and argues the importance of purpose in life, autonomy, positive relationships, and a sense of mastery. Similarly, Ryan and Deci 2001 is a critique of subjective well-being research that calls for more research on nonhedonic aspects of well-being, such as a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness as important ingredients of well-being. Although psychological research on well-being has been dominated by two perspectives, the “subjective” well-being camp and the “psychological” well-being camp, social and behavioral scientists have long investigated well-being from other perspectives. Sirgy, et al. 2006 nicely documents the history of the quality of life research in sociology, economics, and psychology.

                                • Diener, Ed. 1984. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 95:542–575.

                                  DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  The most cited review paper on the science of subjective well-being. This review summarized most practical (measurement) and conceptual issues up to the early 1980s and ignited the scientific study of subjective well-being.

                                  Find this resource:

                                  • Diener, Ed, Shigehiro Oishi, and Richard E. Lucas. 2003. Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology 54:403–425.

                                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    This paper reviews the findings regarding individual and cultural differences in subjective well-being.

                                    Find this resource:

                                    • Diener, Ed, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas, and Heidi L. Smith. 1999. Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin 125:276–302.

                                      DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      This paper reviews the enormous progress made in the science of subjective well-being after the publication of the Diener 1984 paper up to 1999.

                                      Find this resource:

                                      • Oishi, Shigehiro. 2012. Individual and societal well-being. In The Oxford handbook of personality and social psychology. Edited by Mark Snyder and Kay Deaux, 597–622. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        An overview of the field of subjective well-being, including history, research methods, and main findings.

                                        Find this resource:

                                        • Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. 2001. On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology 52:141–166.

                                          DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          This paper also challenges subjective well-being research and encourages researchers to examine eudaimonic well-being, including vitality and motivational factors underlying the good life (such as autonomy, relatedness, and competence). This is a good introduction to the self-determination perspective to well-being research.

                                          Find this resource:

                                          • Ryff, Carol D., and Burton Singer. 1998. The contours of positive human health. Psychological Inquiry 9:1–28.

                                            DOI: 10.1207/s15327965pli0901_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            This paper challenges subjective well-being research and encourages researchers to examine the concepts beyond pleasure and pain, including self-acceptance, personal growth, mastery of environment, positive relationships, and purpose in life. This paper also reviews the link between psychological and physical well-being.

                                            Find this resource:

                                            • Seligman, Martin E. P., Tracy A. Steen, Nansook Park, and Christopher Peterson. 2005. Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist 60:410–421.

                                              DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This paper briefly summarizes progress in positive psychology, although the main part is concerned with the authors’ empirical intervention study.

                                              Find this resource:

                                              • Sirgy, M. Joseph, Alex C. Michalos, Abbot L. Ferriss, Richard A. Easterlin, Donald Patrick, and William Pavot. 2006. The quality-of-life (QOL) research movement: Past, present, and future. Social Indicators Research 76:343–466.

                                                DOI: 10.1007/s11205-005-2877-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                This is an excellent review of the history of quality of life research written collaboratively by a sociologist, an economist, a clinical psychologist, an organizational psychologist, and a personality psychologist.

                                                Find this resource:

                                                • Wilson, Warner. 1967. Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychological Bulletin 67:294–306.

                                                  DOI: 10.1037/h0024431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  The first comprehensive review of the scientific research on happiness, covering research mainly from the 1930s to the mid-1960s.

                                                  Find this resource:

                                                  Journals

                                                  The journals listed here often report in-depth analysis or synthesis or new, significant findings on happiness. Whereas Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Review, and Perspectives on Psychological Science report most important theoretical advancements, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Personality, and Journal of Research in Personality report important new empirical findings on happiness. There are several specialized journals on happiness and related topics, including Social Indicators Research and Journal of Happiness Studies.

                                                  Concepts of Happiness

                                                  Since Plato and Aristotle, numerous concepts of happiness have existed (see Tatarkiewicz 1976 for a nice review of various philosophical perspectives on the concept of happiness). The historian Darrin McMahon (McMahon 2006) offers a comprehensive overview of the historical changes in the concepts of happiness (e.g., luck, fulfillment, cheerfulness) from both philosophical and religious perspectives. In addition, the philosopher Wayne Sumner (Sumner 1996) provides a succinct summary of various philosophical conceptions of happiness. Using Greek poems and dramas, Martha C. Nussbaum (Nussbaum 2001) explains Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia. Sumner’s book is the most accessible to nonphilosophy majors. Like Sumner 1996, Kesebir and Diener 2008 provides a very short summary of the philosophical issues surrounding the concept of happiness. In psychological science, the key controversy has been concerned with the relative importance of hedonic versus eudaimonic well-being. The eudaimonic perspective was first explicitly expressed in Ryff 1989 and Waterman 1993. More recently, Deci and Ryan 2008 edited the special issue of Journal of Happiness Studies on this controversy. It should be noted that some researchers (Kashdan, et al. 2008) think that this debate is futile.

                                                  Assessment

                                                  The most important scientific foundation is the proper assessment of happiness. The establishment of reliability and validity has been difficult. However, a steady progress has been made in the late 20th and early 21st centuries (Diener 1984; Diener, et al. 1999; Lucas, et al. 1996). This section contains citations for the scales most frequently used in subjective and psychological well-being research, such as the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, et al. 1985), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, et al. 1988), the Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky and Lepper 1999), the Psychological Well-Being Scale (Ryff 1989), and the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (Steger, et al. 2006). The subsection discusses the most important debate on the assessment of happiness, namely biases in well-being judgments.

                                                  • Diener, Ed. 1984. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 95:542–575.

                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    The most cited review paper on the science of subjective well-being. This review summarized most practical (measurement) and conceptual issues up to the early 1980s and ignited the scientific study of subjective well-being.

                                                    Find this resource:

                                                    • Diener, Ed, Robert A. Emmons, Randy L. Larsen, and Sharon Griffin. 1985. The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment 49:71–75.

                                                      DOI: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      This paper reports the reliability and validity of the Satisfaction with Life Scale, one of the most frequently used life satisfaction scales.

                                                      Find this resource:

                                                      • Diener, Ed, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas, and Heidi L. Smith. 1999. Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin 125:276–302.

                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        This paper reviews the enormous progress made in the science of subjective well-being after the publication of the Diener 1984 paper up to 1999.

                                                        Find this resource:

                                                        • Lucas, Richard E., Ed Diener, and Eunkook M. Suh. 1996. Discriminant validity of well-being measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71:616–628.

                                                          DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.3.616Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This paper reports one of the first systematic demonstrations of convergent and discriminant validity of well-being measures.

                                                          Find this resource:

                                                          • Lyubomirsky, Sonja, and Heidi S. Lepper. 1999. A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research 46:137–155.

                                                            DOI: 10.1023/A:1006824100041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            This article provides reliability and validity information regarding the authors’ new scale of dispositional happiness.

                                                            Find this resource:

                                                            • Ryff, Carol D. 1989. Happiness is everything, or is it? Exploration on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57:1069–1081.

                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.57.6.1069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              This paper summarizes a humanistic approach to happiness research; the first challenge to subjective well-being.

                                                              Find this resource:

                                                              • Steger, Michael F., Patricia Frazier, Shigehiro Oishi, and Matthew Kaler. 2006. The Meaning in Life Questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. Journal of Counseling Psychology 53:80–93.

                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0022-0167.53.1.80Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                This article presents the reliability and validity information regarding the Meaning in Life Questionnaire.

                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                • Watson, David, Lee Anna Clark, and Auke Tellegen. 1988. Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54:1063–1070.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This paper introduces one of the most frequently used positive and negative affect scales. However, this scale focuses almost exclusively on high arousal positive affect (e.g., excitement) and negative affect (e.g., fear) and does not include low arousal positive affect (e.g., contentment).

                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                  • Wilson, Warner. 1967. Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychological Bulletin 67:294–306.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/h0024431Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    The first comprehensive review of the scientific research of happiness, covering research mainly from the 1930s to the mid-1960s.

                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                    Judgmental Biases and Validity

                                                                    Social cognition researchers, such as Norbert Schwarz, Fritz Strack, and Daniel Kahneman, have shown that well-being judgments are affected by extraneous factors, such as weather (Schwarz and Clore 1983) and item order (see Kahneman 1999 and Schwarz and Strack 1999 for review). Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson and their colleagues have shown that people’s predictions about their future happiness are often inaccurate (Gilbert, et al. 1998). Likewise, Schkade and Kahneman 1998 shows that people overestimate the role of salient factors (e.g., climate) when evaluating others’ well-being. More recently, however, several research has shown that the effect of current mood (Eid and Diener 2004), item order (Schimmack and Oishi 2005), and other extraneous factors on well-being judgment is not as consequential as once thought and that well-being judgments are stable over time (Lucas and Donnellan 2007) and converge with informant reports (Schneider and Schimmack 2009).

                                                                    • Eid, Michael, and Ed Diener. 2004. Global judgments of subjective well-being: Situational variability and long-term stability. Social Indicators Research 65:245–277.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1023/B:SOCI.0000003801.89195.bcSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This paper demonstrates that the mood effect is relatively small in well-being judgments.

                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                      • Gilbert, Daniel T., Elizabeth C. Pinel, Timothy D. Wilson, Stephen J. Blumberg, and Thalia P. Wheatley. 1998. Immune neglect: A source of durability bias in affective forecasting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75:617–638.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.75.3.617Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The authors show that people’s predictions about future happiness or unhappiness are often inaccurate. This was one of the first papers on affective forecasting errors by Gilbert and colleagues.

                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                        • Kahneman, Daniel. 1999. Objective happiness. In Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. Edited by Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz, 3–25. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          This chapter summarizes peak-end effects and other judgmental biases in well-being.

                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                          • Lucas, Richard E., and M. Brent Donnellan. 2007. How stable is happiness? Using the STARTS model to estimate the stability of life satisfaction. Journal of Research in Personality 41:1091–1098.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2006.11.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This paper presents the estimate of temporal stability using two national longitudinal studies.

                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                            • Schimmack, Ulrich, and Shigehiro Oishi. 2005. Chronically accessible versus temporarily accessible sources of life satisfaction judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89:395–406.

                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              This paper presents a meta-analysis of the item-order effect in life satisfaction judgments that found that the item-order effect is small to modest in effect size. Also the paper reports substantial temporal stability (reliability) of life satisfaction judgments.

                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                              • Schkade, David A., and Daniel Kahneman. 1998. Does living in California make people happy? A focusing illusion in judgments of life satisfaction. Psychological Science 9:340–346.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00066Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                These authors show that people tend to overestimate the role of salient factors (e.g., climate) in others’ well-being. For instance, Midwesterners tend to think that Californians are happier because of the nicer weather in California; in reality, Midwesterners are as happy as Californians.

                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                • Schneider, Leann, and Ulrich Schimmack. 2009. Self-informant agreement in well-being ratings: A meta-analysis. Social Indicators Research 94:363–376.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s11205-009-9440-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  This is a meta-analysis of the self and informant agreement on well-being judgments.

                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                  • Schwarz, Norbert, and Gerald L. Clore. 1983. Mood, misattribution, and judgments of well-being: Informative and directive functions of affective states. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45:513–523.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.45.3.513Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    One of the first studies to demonstrate that well-being judgments are influenced by weather.

                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                    • Schwarz, Norbert, and Fritz Strack. 1999. Reports of subjective well-being: Judgmental processes and their methodological implications. In Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. Edited by Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norbert Schwarz, 61–84. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This is a comprehensive review of social cognition research on biases surrounding well-being judgments, including mood and item-order effects.

                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                      What Predicts Happiness?

                                                                                      Once a reasonable degree of reliability and validity of happiness and related scales was established, researchers started exploring the predictors of subjective well-being. This section reviews main predictors of subjective well-being, namely objective conditions (e.g., marital status, income, life events), personality traits (e.g., extraversion, neuroticism), motivations (e.g., goals, approach/avoidance), and close relationships (e.g., marital relationships). This section also reviews cultural and developmental differences in the predictors of subjective well-being and the role of close relationships and friendships in well-being. In addition, this section reviews research that predictors of subjective well-being are systematically different across cultures, although there are factors that appear to be universally important (e.g., fulfillment of basic needs).

                                                                                      Objective Conditions

                                                                                      People generally assume that the rich, young, and beautiful are a lot happier than the poor, old, and not so beautiful. Surprisingly, research repeatedly finds that financial wealth is only moderately associated with life satisfaction and daily well-being (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2002; see, however, Stevenson and Wolfers 2008 for the specific cases in which wealth is strongly associated with subjective well-being). Likewise, older individuals are in general as happy as or even slightly happier than young people (Pinquart and Sörensen 2000). Somewhat surprisingly, physical attractiveness is not associated with subjective well-being (Diener, et al. 1995). Research in general finds that demographic factors, such as gender, age, race, and socioeconomic status, are not very strongly associated with subjective well-being (Diener, et al. 1999; Wood, et al. 1989). Similarly, life events appear to have a limited impact on one’s subjective well-being, as paraplegics and lottery winners were not as different in self-reported happiness and daily enjoyment as others expect (Brickman, et al. 1978). Richard E. Lucas and colleagues, however, have shown that major life events, such as unemployment, divorce, and widowhood, have a long-term impact on one’s life satisfaction (see Diener, et al. 2006 and Lucas 2007 for a review).

                                                                                      • Brickman, Philip, Dan Coates, and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman. 1978. Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 36.8: 917–927.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.36.8.917Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        This is one of the most famous papers in the history of subjective well-being. It reports the surprisingly small difference in self-reported happiness and enjoyment of mundane activities between paraplegics and lottery winners. Based on these findings, Brickman and colleagues proposed their famous hedonic treadmill theory of happiness.

                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                        • Diener, Ed, and Robert Biswas-Diener. 2002. Will money increase subjective well-being? Social Indicators Research 57:119–169.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1023/A:1014411319119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          This article reviews a large body of literature on material wealth and subjective well-being.

                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                          • Diener, Ed, Richard E. Lucas, and Christie Napa Scollon. 2006. Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist 61:305–314.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.4.305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            This paper challenges the traditional hedonic treadmill theory initially popularized by Philip Brickman and colleagues.

                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                            • Diener, Ed, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas, and Heidi L. Smith. 1999. Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin 125:276–302.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This paper reviews the associations between demographic factors and subjective well-being.

                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                              • Diener, Ed, Brian Wolsic, and Frank Fujita. 1995. Physical attractiveness and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69:120–129.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.69.1.120Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                In three studies, the authors examined the link between physical attractiveness and subjective well-being. They found that “objective” physical attractiveness (how others view the target’s physical attractiveness) is not associated with life satisfaction or positive affect.

                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                • Lucas, Richard E. 2007. Adaptation and the set-point model of subjective well-being: Does happiness change after major life events? Current Directions in Psychological Science 16:75–79.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00479.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Along with Diener, et al. 2006, this brief paper summarizes the findings showing that people do not easily adapt to major negative life events and challenges the central claim made in Brickman, et al. 1978.

                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                  • Pinquart, Martin, and Silvia Sörensen. 2000. Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging 15:187–224.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0882-7974.15.2.187Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This is a large meta-analysis of the relation between socioeconomic status (SES), the quality and quantity of social relationships, and subjective well-being among older adults.

                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                    • Stevenson, Betsey, and Justin Wolfers. 2008. “Economic growth and subjective well-being: Re-Assessing the Easterlin paradox.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 1 (2008): 1–102.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/eca.0.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the Easterlin paradox, in particular the relation between economic growth and changes in subjective well-being.

                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                      • Wood, Wendy, Nancy Rhodes, and Melanie Whelan. 1989. Sex differences in positive well-being: A consideration of emotional style and marital status. Psychological Bulletin 106:249–264.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.106.2.249Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        This was the first comprehensive meta-analysis on sex differences in positive well-being.

                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                        Personality Traits

                                                                                                        From early on in the scientific study of subjective well-being, personality traits (in particular extraversion and neuroticism) were found to be quite strongly associated with happiness (see Lucas 2008 for review). DeNeve and Cooper 1998 reports on the first comprehensive meta-analysis of the link between personality traits and subjective well-being. This meta-analysis revealed surprisingly small correlations between extraversion and subjective well-being. More recently, Steel, et al. 2008 reports on another meta-analysis, this time focusing on the well-validated big five personality scales. This meta-analysis revealed much stronger association between extraversion and neuroticism and subjective well-being. In addition, Schimmack, et al. 2004 reports that specific facets of extraversion (e.g., cheerfulness) and neuroticism (e.g., depression) are more strongly associated with life satisfaction than the global traits of extraversion and neuroticism per se. Behavioral genetic studies have generally found that 30 percent to 50 percent of individual differences in the mean level of happiness can be explained by genetic factors (see Lucas 2008 for review; Lykken and Tellegen 1996 provides the heritability estimate of 80 percent).

                                                                                                        • DeNeve, Kristina M., and Harris Cooper. 1998. The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 124:197–229.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.124.2.197Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This is one of the first meta-analyses on the relation between various personality traits and subjective well-being. Very comprehensive; however, some researchers have criticized this meta-analysis in that heterogeneous scales were put together to create extraversion, thereby underestimating the “latent” association between extraversion and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                          • Lucas, Richard E. 2008. Personality and subjective well-being. In The science of subjective well-being. Edited by Michael Eid and Randy J. Larsen, 171–194. New York: Guilford.

                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This chapter summarizes the up-to-date findings on the association between personality traits and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                            • Lykken, David, and Auke Tellegen. 1996. Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science 7:186–189.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00355.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              This is one of the most controversial papers on the relative role of genetics and environment in subjective well-being. Using the longitudinal twin design, the authors estimated that 80 percent of individual differences in self-reported well-being could be due to genetic factors.

                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                              • Schimmack, Ulrich, Shigehiro Oishi, R. Michael Furr, and David C. Funder. 2004. Personality and life satisfaction: A facet level analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 30:1062–1075.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0146167204264292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This paper reports that specific facets of extraversion (e.g., cheerfulness) and neuroticism (e.g., depression) are more strongly associated with subjective well-being than global traits, such as extraversion and neuroticism.

                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                • Steel, Piers, Joseph Schmidt, and Jonas Shultz. 2008. Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 134:138–161.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.134.1.138Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This paper presents a meta-analysis of the relation between big five personality traits and subjective well-being. This meta-analysis focuses on well-validated scales. Generally, the association between extraversion and subjective well-being in this meta-analysis was larger than the earlier one summarized in DeNeve and Cooper 1998.

                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  Motivations and Goals

                                                                                                                  Besides personality traits, personality researchers have identified an association between having and pursuing important goals and subjective well-being (Emmons 1986). In a series of studies, Robert A. Emmons and Laura A. King (e.g., Emmons and King 1988) showed that goal conflict is negatively associated with subjective and physical well-being. Furthermore, Andrew J. Elliot and his colleagues have shown that approach goals are more strongly associated with subjective well-being (Elliot, et al. 1997). Likewise, Ryan, et al. 1996 and Sheldon and Elliot 1999 report that intrinsic goal pursuit is associated with well-being. Several researchers have shown that individuals’ values and implicit motives moderate affective reactions to various life events (Brunstein, et al. 1998; Crocker, et al. 2002; Oishi, et al. 1999). Barry Schwartz and colleagues (Schwartz, et al. 2002) have found that people who are motivated to find the best option (i.e., maximizers) tend to be less satisfied with their choice than those who do not (i.e., satisficers).

                                                                                                                  • Brunstein, Joachim C., Oliver C. Schultheiss, and Ruth Grässman. 1998. Personal goals and emotional well-being: The moderating role of motive dispositions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75:494–508.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.75.2.494Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This paper presents some of the first evidence that congruence between implicit and explicit motivation is associated with emotional well-being.

                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    • Crocker, Jennifer, Samuel R. Sommer, and Riia K. Luhtanen. 2002. Hopes dashed and dreams fulfilled: Contingencies of self-worth and graduate school admissions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28:1275–1286.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/01461672022812012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      The authors show that the domains in which participants base their self-worth predict how strongly they would react to life events (e.g., admission to graduate school).

                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      • Elliot, Andrew J., Kennon M. Sheldon, and Marcy A. Church. 1997. Avoidance personal goals and subjective well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 23:915–927.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0146167297239001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Elliot and colleagues have shown that approach goal pursuit is positively associated with subjective well-being, whereas avoidance goal pursuit is negatively associated with subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                        • Emmons, Robert A. 1986. Personal strivings: An approach to personality and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51:1058–1068.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.51.5.1058Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Along with Brian Little’s personal project paper, this was one of the first papers that investigated the relation between goal pursuit and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                          • Emmons, Robert A., and Laura A. King. 1988. Conflict among personal strivings: Immediate and long-term implications for psychological and physical well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54:1040–1048.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This important paper shows that the types of goals people pursue are associated with subjective and physical well-being. Individuals whose goals conflict with one another were less satisfied with their lives and more likely to report physical symptoms than those whose goals do not conflict with one another.

                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                            • Oishi, Shigehiro, Ed Diener, Eunkook M. Suh, and Richard E. Lucas. 1999. Value as a moderator in subjective well-being. Journal of Personality 67:157–184.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/1467-6494.00051Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              This paper presents the value-as-a-moderator model in subjective well-being (i.e., what makes people happy differs across individuals, depending on their personally important goals).

                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                              • Ryan, Richard M., Kennon M. Sheldon, Tim Kasser, and Edward L. Deci. 1996. All goals are not created equal: An organismic perspective on the nature of goals and their regulation. In The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to behavior. Edited by Peter M. Gollwitzer and John A. Bargh, 7–26. New York: Guilford.

                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This chapter nicely summarizes the authors’ self-determination perspective on well-being. Their central argument is that intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic goal pursuit is associated with well-being.

                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                • Schwartz, Barry, Andrew Ward, John Monterosso, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Katherine White, and Darrin R. Lehman. 2002. Maximizing versus satisficing: Happiness is matter of choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 83:1178–1197.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.83.5.1178Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  The authors show that people who try to find the best option (i.e., maximizers) tend to be less satisfied with their choice than those who do not (i.e., satisficers).

                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                  • Sheldon, Kennon M., and Andrew J. Elliot. 1999. Goal striving, need-satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76:482–497.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.76.3.482Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Using a longitudinal design, the authors show that self-concordant goal pursuit is associated with an increase in well-being over time.

                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                    Close Relationships

                                                                                                                                    Besides personality traits and motivation, research consistently has found that the quality of social relationships is one of the strongest predictors of well-being (Ryff and Singer 2001; Heller, et al. 2004). For instance, Diener and Seligman 2002 reports that when the factors that differentiate very happy people and others are analyzed, the quality of social relationships is the clearest discriminating factor. In addition, Reis, et al. 2000 reports that people feel better on days when they feel connected with others than on days when they do not. Similarly, Laurenceau, et al. 1998 shows that self-disclosure and the partner’s responsiveness were the keys in daily relationship satisfaction. Whereas most research on relationships and well-being focus on horizontal relationships (e.g., marital relationships, friendships), developmental psychologists have shown that parent-child relationships are also important predictors of subjective well-being (see Diener and Diener McGavran 2008 for review). The rich literature on close relationships and well-being is summarized in Oishi, et al. 2010. John Cacioppo and his colleagues have shown that loneliness is a strong negative predictor of subjective well-being, beyond various demographic and objective factors (see Cacioppo, et al. 2008 for review).

                                                                                                                                    • Cacioppo, John T., Louise C. Hawkley, Ariel Kalil, M. E. Hughes, Linda Waite, and Ronald A. Thisted. 2008. Happiness and the invisible threads of social connection. In The science of subjective well-being. Edited by Michael Eid and Randy J. Larsen, 195–219. New York: Guilford.

                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This chapter presents nice empirical evidence for the link between the quality of social relationships (in particular loneliness) and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                      • Diener, Marissa L., and Mary Beth Diener McGavran. 2008. What makes people happy? A developmental approach to the literature on family relationships and well-being. In The science of subjective well-being. Edited by Michael Eid and Randy J. Larsen, 347–375. New York: Guilford.

                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This article provides a comprehensive overview of the literature on family relationships and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                        • Diener, Ed, and Martin E. P. Seligman. 2002. Very happy people. Psychological Science 13:81–84.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          This brief paper reports that very happy people tend to have very good social relationships and spend more time socializing than moderately happy or not so happy people.

                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                          • Heller, Daniel, David Watson, and Remus Ilies. 2004. A role of person versus situation in life satisfaction: A critical examination. Psychological Bulletin 130:574–600.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.574Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            This meta-analysis reports the relation between marital satisfaction and life satisfaction. This is also an important paper that tests the bottom-up and the top-down models of subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                            • Laurenceau, Jean-Philippe, Lisa Feldman Barrett, and Paula R. Pietromonaco. 1998. Intimacy as an interpersonal process: The importance of self-disclosure, partner disclosure, and perceived partner responsiveness in interpersonal exchanges. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74:1238–1251.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.74.5.1238Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This paper documents the importance of intimacy in relationship satisfaction using a daily diary method.

                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                              • Oishi, Shigehiro, Margarita Krochik, and Sharon Akimoto. 2010. Felt understanding as a bridge between close relationships and subjective well-being: Antecedents and consequences across individuals and cultures. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 4:403–416.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00264.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                This article summarizes the relationship literature related to subjective well-being research.

                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                • Reis, Harry T., Kennon M. Sheldon, Shelly L. Gable, Joseph Roscoe, and Richard M. Ryan. 2000. Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26:419–435.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0146167200266002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  This paper presents evidence that people on average feel better on days when they feel connected with others than on days when they do not.

                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                  • Ryff, Carol D., and Burton H. Singer. 2001. Emotion, social relationships, and health. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    This book offers a collection of chapters, many of which explore the link between the quality of social relationships and physical and psychological well-being.

                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                    Cultural Differences

                                                                                                                                                    Since the late 1990s well-being researchers have conducted numerous cross-cultural studies. Diener and Suh 2000, Culture and Subjective Well-Being, was the first major review on this topic. Diener, et al. 2003 summarizes most of the individual and cultural differences in predictors of subjective well-being. There are many important papers on this topic. However, Kwan, et al. 1997 and Suh, et al. 1998 are two of the most frequently cited papers in this area. Kwan, et al. 1997 reports that the life satisfaction of Hong Kong students is predicted by relationship harmony above and beyond the big five personality traits, whereas the life satisfaction of American students is predicted by self-esteem above and beyond the big five personality traits. Likewise, Suh, et al. 1998 reports that the frequency of emotional experience was more strongly associated with life satisfaction in individualist nations than in collectivistic nations. There are several important advancements in culture and well-being research. Schimmack, et al. 2002 extends Suh, et al. 1998 to show that the relation between affect balance and life satisfaction is again stronger among Americans and Germans than among Japanese, Ghanaians, and Mexicans, but the relation between extraversion and neuroticism and affect balance is similar across all five nations. Likewise, Uchida, et al. 2008 extends Kwan, et al. 1997 to show that self-esteem is associated with life satisfaction to the extent that self-esteem is also associated with social support among Japanese and Filipino (namely, the link between self-esteem and life satisfaction is fully mediated by social support); the link between self-esteem and life satisfaction is not explained by social support among Americans. Some researchers have focused on the type of positive emotions that are associated with general happiness. For instance, Kitayama, et al. 2006 reports that interpersonally disengaging positive emotions (e.g., pride) are positively associated with happiness among Americans, whereas interpersonally engaging positive emotions (e.g., fureai, a feeling of connectedness) are positively associated with well-being among Japanese. Elliot, et al. 2001 reports that pursuing goals with the avoidant mind-set is negatively associated with subjective well-being among European Americans, whereas that is not the case among Russians and Koreans. Whereas many researchers have focused on cultural differences, several researchers, in particular from the self-determination theory perspective, have found cultural similarities more often than cultural differences in the predictors of subjective well-being. For instance, Chirkov, et al. 2003 reports that the degree to which one’s goals are internalized is associated with subjective well-being across cultures.

                                                                                                                                                    • Chirkov, Valery, Richard M. Ryan, Youngmee Kim, and Ulas Kaplan. 2003. Differentiating autonomy from individualism and independence: A self-determination theory perspective on internalization of cultural orientations and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84:97–110.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.1.97Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      These self-determination theorists found evidence that predictors of well-being are universal; essentially, they argue that the key is the degree of internalization of one’s goals.

                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                      • Diener, Ed, Shigehiro Oishi, and Richard E. Lucas. 2003. Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology 54:403–425.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This is a fairly brief review on cultural similarities and differences in subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                        • Diener, Ed, and Eunkook M. Suh. 2000. Culture and subjective well-being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This book offers a collection of chapters by leading well-being researchers on the topic of culture and subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                          • Elliot, Andrew J., Valary I. Chirkov, Youngmee Kim, and Kennon M. Sheldon. 2001. A cross-cultural analysis of avoidance (relative to approach) personal goals. Psychological Science 12:505–510.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00393Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            These authors found that pursuing avoidance goals was negatively associated with subjective well-being among Americans, whereas there was no negative association between the number of avoidance goals and subjective well-being among Asian Americans and Russians.

                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                            • Kitayama, Shinobu, Batja Mesquita, and Mayumi Karasawa. 2006. Cultural affordances and emotional experience: Socially engaging and disengaging emotions in Japan and the United States. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 91:890–903.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.5.890Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              The researchers show that the type of positive emotions associated with well-being differs between Americans and Japanese. For Americans, interpersonally disengaging positive emotions (e.g., pride) are positively associated with well-being, whereas for Japanese, interpersonally engaging positive emotions (e.g., fureai, a feeling of connectedness) are positively associated with well-being.

                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                              • Kwan, Virginia S. Y., Michael Harris Bond, and Theodore M. Singelis. 1997. Pancultural explanations for life satisfaction: Adding relationship harmony to self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73:1038–1051.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.73.5.1038Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                The authors show that self-esteem predicts the life satisfaction of Americans above and beyond big five personality traits, whereas relationship harmony predicts the life satisfaction of Hong Kong Chinese above and beyond the big five personality traits.

                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                • Schimmack, Ulrich, Phanikiran Radhakrishnan, Shigehiro Oishi, Vivian Dzokoto, and Stephan Ahadi. 2002. Culture, personality, and subjective well-being: Integrating process models of life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82:582–593.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.82.4.582Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Using structural equation modeling, the authors show that extraversion and neuroticism are associated with positive and negative affect similarly across cultures, whereas positive and negative affect is more strongly associated with life satisfaction among Americans and Germans than among Mexicans, Ghanaians, and Japanese.

                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                  • Suh, Eunkook M., Ed Diener, Shigehiro Oishi, and Harry C. Triandis. 1998. The shifting basis of life satisfaction judgments across cultures: Emotions versus norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74:482–493.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.74.2.482Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Suh and colleagues show cultural differences in the relative importance of emotion versus norms in life satisfaction judgments.

                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                    • Uchida, Yukiko, Shinobu Kitayama, Batja Mesquita, Jose Alberto S. Reyes, and Beth Morling. 2008. Is perceived emotional support beneficial? Well-being and health in independent and interdependent cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34:741–754.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0146167208315157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      The authors show that self-esteem uniquely predicts the subjective well-being of Americans above and beyond social support, whereas it does not predict the subjective well-being of Japanese and Filipinos.

                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                      Developmental Differences

                                                                                                                                                                      In addition to stable individual and cultural differences, well-being researchers have documented important developmental variations in subjective and psychological well-being. Gilman and Huebner 2003 and Park 2004 nicely summarize the wide range of important issues in the research on the well-being of children and adolescents, ranging from measurement to unique predictors. Reed W. Larson and colleagues have investigated this issue since the 1970s using an experience sampling method. Larson, et al. 2002 represents the finest research method in this area, employing the experience sampling method over time. The combination of the experience sampling method and the longitudinal method is very rare, revealing important developmental changes and stability in daily emotional well-being. There are also numerous studies on aging and well-being. Whereas the earlier research on aging and well-being tended to employ a cross-sectional method, more recent studies have employed a long-term longitudinal design. For instance, Charles, et al. 2001 examines positive and negative affect over twenty-three years. Likewise, Mroczek and Spiro 2005 follows middle-aged participants for over twenty years and investigates the changes in life satisfaction. Gerstorf, et al. 2010 analyzes three nationally representative longitudinal data sets and reports that life satisfaction declines substantially three to five years before the eventual death. Thus this study shows that life satisfaction would be able to predict the ultimate life outcome, mortality.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Charles, Susan Turk, Chandra A. Reynolds, and Margaret Gatz. 2001. Age-related differences and change in positive and negative affect over 23 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80:136–151.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.80.1.136Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        The authors found that as people get older, they report experiencing less negative affect.

                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                        • Gerstorf, Denis, Nilam Ram, Guy Mayraz, Mira Hidajat, Ulman Lindenberger, Gert G. Wagner, and Jürgen Schupp. 2010. Late-life decline in well-being across adulthood in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States: Something is seriously wrong at the end of life. Psychology and Aging 25:477–485.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1037/a0017543Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          These authors investigated three nationally representative longitudinal data sets and found that life satisfaction declines substantially three to five years before the eventual death.

                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                          • Gilman, Rich, and Scott Huebner. 2003. A review of life satisfaction research with children and adolescents. School Psychology Quarterly 18:192–205.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1521/scpq.18.2.192.21858Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            This is a comprehensive review of the life satisfaction of schoolchildren.

                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                            • Larson, Reed W., Giovanni Moneta, Maryse H. Richards, and Suzanne Wilson. 2002. Continuity, stability, and change in daily emotional experience across adolescence. Child Development 73:1151–1165.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00464Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              The authors used the experience sampling method over two time points and showed changes and stability in daily emotional well-being. The first author is one of the pioneers of well-being research (a former student of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                              • Mroczek, Daniel K., and Avron Spiro. 2005. Change in life satisfaction over 20 years during adulthood: Findings from the VA Normative Aging Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88:189–202.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.1.189Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                The authors analyzed a large longitudinal dataset and found that people’s life satisfaction typically increased slightly from their forties to their sixties and then declined slightly from that point on.

                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                • Park, Nansook. 2004. The role of subjective well-being in positive youth development. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 591:25–39.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0002716203260078Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a nice overview on the subjective well-being of children and adolescents.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                  Consequences of Happiness

                                                                                                                                                                                  Because happiness is often conceived as the ultimate end (Diener 1984), there have been few studies on the consequences of subjective well-being. The Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven was the first to investigate this question (Veenhoven 1988, Veenhoven 1989). Despite Veenhoven’s early call for research on the consequences of happiness, very few studies have investigated this issue. Diener, et al. 2002 is first explicit examination of whether subjective well-being can predict an important life outcome, such as future earnings. Lyubomirsky, et al. 2005 summarizes a large number of studies that report relevant statistics to show that subjective well-being is in general predictive of future positive outcomes, such as income, occupational status, job performance, marital status, health, and mortality. Similarly, Pressman and Cohen 2005 reports on a large meta-analysis exploring the link between positive affect and physical health. This meta-analysis provides a more nuanced relation between positive affect and physical health (e.g., differences between state positive affect and trait positive affect and variations in the magnitude of association across different diseases). Whereas Lyubomirsky, et al. 2005 and Pressman and Cohen 2005 focus on the linear association between subjective well-being and various life outcomes, Oishi, et al. 2007 examines the potentially curvilinear relations between subjective well-being and life outcomes. Indeed, in terms of future income and highest education levels attained, the best outcome is obtained by moderately satisfied individuals rather than most satisfied individuals. Interestingly, however, in terms of future relationship stability, the best outcome is obtained by most satisfied individuals rather than moderately satisfied individuals. Thus the nature of the association (e.g., linear versus curvilinear) differs, depending on life domains. This is an important topic that requires further exploration.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Diener, Ed. 1984. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin 95:542–575.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    The most cited review paper on the science of subjective well-being. This review summarized most practical (measurement) and conceptual issues up to the early 1980s and ignited the scientific study of subjective well-being.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Diener, Ed, Carol Nickerson, Richard E. Lucas, and Ed Sandvik. 2002. Dispositional affect and job outcomes. Social Indicators Research 59:229–259.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1023/A:1019672513984Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the few empirical studies to explicitly investigate this question. The authors found that dispositional cheerfulness predicted income later; they also found that this association was stronger for participants from higher socioeconomic status (SES) than for those from lower SES.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lyubomirsky, Sonja, Laura King, and Ed Diener. 2005. The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin 131:803–855.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        The authors put together a large number of studies on this topic. This is the most comprehensive review on the question of does happiness lead to success.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Oishi, Shigehiro, Ed Diener, and Richard E. Lucas. 2007. The optimal level of well-being: Can we be too happy? Perspectives on Psychological Science 2:346–360.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00048.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          This paper provides empirical evidence that happier is not always better. The association between levels of life satisfaction and later income, for instance, was best characterized as curvilinear.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pressman, Sarah D., and Sheldon Cohen. 2005. Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin 131:925–971.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.925Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            This paper presents a large meta-analysis of the link between positive affect and physical health.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Veenhoven, Ruut. 1988. The utility of happiness. Social Indicators Research 20:333–354.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/BF00302332Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              This was the first paper that explicitly examined whether happiness results in desirable outcomes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Veenhoven, Ruut, ed. 1989. How harmful is happiness? Consequences of enjoying life or not. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Universitaire Pers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                In this edited book the Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven asks the question of whether happiness is good. He summarizes the literature available at that time and concludes that happiness is in general associated with positive outcomes and is rarely associated with negative outcomes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                Can We Make People Happier?

                                                                                                                                                                                                Whereas an earlier generation of well-being researchers had never engaged in intervention studies (perhaps to remain in the basic research areas), many positive psychologists have boldly delved into intervention studies to improve people’s well-being in the early 21st century (see Lyubomirsky, et al. 2005 for a review). Several researchers have successfully used the writing exercise to increase people’s self-reported happiness (Emmons and McCullough 2003, King 2001), while others have found that thinking and reflecting is more effective than writing (Lyubomirsky, et al. 2006). In what is possibly the most ambitious intervention study to date, Seligman, et al. 2005 reports on a web-based randomized control trial design used to examine the effectiveness of six activities over a six-month period. Of these six activities, using signature strengths and listing three good things that happened that day increased happiness and reduced symptoms of depression over the course of the study, and the gratitude visit had similar benefits that lasted about a month. More recently, Fredrickson, et al. 2008 shows that the loving-kindness intervention had a positive effect over a nine-week period. Besides positive psychologists, several experimental social psychologists have found specific ways to improve one’s well-being. For instance, van Boven and Gilovich 2003 reports that spending money on experiences rather than on material goods is associated with longer-lasting positive affect. Dunn, et al. 2008 shows that spending money on others rather than on oneself results in more positive affect (see Dunn, et al. 2011 for a review).

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. 2008. Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science 319:1687–1688.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1126/science.1150952Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The authors found that spending on others is associated with happiness to a greater degree than spending on the self.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dunn, Elizabeth W., Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson. 2011. If money doesn’t make you happy then you probably aren’t spending it right. Journal of Consumer Psychology 21:115–125.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2011.02.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Three prominent experimental social psychologists review the literature on money and happiness and provide concrete advice on how to spend money to increase one’s happiness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. 2003. Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84:377–389.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the first studies to demonstrate that writing about things in life for which one is grateful improves one’s moods and physical health over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Fredrickson, Barbara L., Michael A. Cohn, Kimberly A. Coffey, Jolynn Pek, and Sandra M. Finkel. 2008. Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 95:1045–1062.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/a0013262Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This was one of the first experimental studies to show that the loving-kindness intervention program made participants become more mindful, savoring, and hopeful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • King, Laura A. 2001. Health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27:798–807.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0146167201277003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This was one of the first studies to demonstrate that writing about the best possible future self improves one’s life satisfaction and health.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lyubomirsky, Sonja, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade. 2005. Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology 9:111–131.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a nice overview of positive intervention research.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lyubomirsky, Sonja, Lorie Sousa, and Rene Dickerhoof. 2006. The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life’s triumphs and defeats. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90:692–708.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.90.4.692Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              These researchers show that thinking about a positive life event has a more beneficial effect on self-reported happiness than writing about a positive life event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Seligman, Martin E. P., Tracy A. Steen, Nansook Park, and Christopher Peterson. 2005. Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist 60:410–421.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This paper briefly summarizes progress in positive psychology, although the main part is concerned with the authors’ empirical intervention study.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • van Boven, Leaf, and Thomas Gilovich. 2003. To do or to have? That is the question. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85:1193–1202.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1193Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The authors present the first empirical evidence that spending money on experiential goods (e.g., attending a concert) is more strongly associated with happiness than spending on material goods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Down