Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 429–449 | Cite as

Subjective Wellbeing as an Affective-Cognitive Construct

  • Melanie T. Davern
  • Robert A. CumminsEmail author
  • Mark A. Stokes
Research Paper


The affective content of Subjective Wellbeing (SWB) was investigated in two separate studies. Study 1 involved a representative sample of 478 participants from across Australia aged between 18 and 72 years. This study tested the circumplex model of affect and then determined the minimum set of affects that explain variance in SWB. The model was supported, with most affects congregated around the valence axis. Overall, 64% of the variance in SWB was explained by six Core Affects, indicating that SWB is a highly affective construct. Study 2 tested the relative strength of Core Affect (content, happy and excited), in three separate models of SWB incorporating cognition (seven discrepancies) and all five factors of personality. Using a sample of 854 participants aged been 18–86 years, structural equation modeling was used to compare an affective-cognitive driven model of SWB, with a personality driven model of SWB and a discrepancy driven model of SWB. The results provide support for an affective-cognitive model which explained 90 percent of the variance in SWB. All models confirm that the relationship between SWB, Core Affect and Discrepancies is far stronger than the relationship between personality and SWB. It is proposed that Core Affect and Discrepancies comprise the essence of SWB. Moreover, Core Affect is the driving force behind individual set-point levels in SWB homeostasis.


Subjective wellbeing Core affect Life satisfaction Homeostasis Personality 



We thank Ann-Marie James for her assistance with the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie T. Davern
    • 1
  • Robert A. Cummins
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mark A. Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health & Social WellbeingUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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