, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 245-277

Global Judgments of Subjective Well-Being: Situational Variability and Long-Term Stability

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Abstract

Subjective well-being (SWB) is an important indicator of quality oflife. SWB can be conceptualized as a momentary state (e.g., mood) aswell as a relatively stable trait (e.g., life satisfaction). Thevalidity of self-reported trait aspects of SWB has been questioned byexperimental studies showing that SWB judgments seem to be stronglycontext dependent. Particularly, momentary mood seems to have a stronginfluence on global SWB judgments. To explore the ecological validity ofthese conclusions a non-experimental longitudinal self-reportstudy with three occasions of measurement was conducted(N = 249). The associations between momentarymood ratings and global judgments of SWB (life satisfaction,satisfaction with life domains, frequency and intensity of emotions) aswell as personality ratings (self-esteem, optimism, neuroticism,extraversion) were analyzed in a multistate-multitrait-multiconstructmodel. This model takes (a) measurement error, (b) occasion-specificdeviations, and (c) stable interindividual differences into account. Itis shown that the variability in global SWB judgments and personalityratings is relatively small and much smaller than the variability inmood. Furthermore, the occasion-specific associations between moodstates, on the one hand, and global SWB and personality ratings, on theother hand, are relatively small and inconsistent. All global SWB andpersonality variables are more strongly related to mood on the traitlevel than on the occasion-specific deviation level. Therefore, incontrast to experimental studies, occasion-specific mood effects do notseem to be inherently important in ecological measurement settings.