Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 161–181 | Cite as

A Person-Centered Approach to Subjective Well-Being

  • Michael A. BusseriEmail author
  • Stanley Sadava
  • Danielle Molnar
  • Nancy DeCourville
Research Paper


Rooted in Diener’s (Psychol Bull 95:542–575, 1984) three-component model of subjective well-being (SWB), the present work employed a person-centered approach to studying SWB based on Shmotkin’s (Rev Gen Psychol 9:291–325, 2005) dynamic systems framework. Within-individual configurations of life satisfaction (LS), positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA) were explored using cluster analysis. Five distinct SWB configurations replicated within and across two samples (N = 756 first-year undergraduates; N = 550 community adults). A substantial number of participants reported a profile indicative of “high SWB” (high LS, frequent PA, infrequent NA). Consistent with expectations, these individuals were characterized by elevated mental, physical, and interpersonal functioning. In contrast, people with a “low SWB” profile reported the greatest dysfunction. Across the five clusters, however, adaptive functioning was not unique to individuals reporting a high SWB profile, nor was dysfunction unique to people characterized by a low SWB configuration. Results are discussed in terms of compensation and strain processes hypothesized by Shmotkin (2005). Implications for future research on SWB are considered.


Subjective well-being Person-centered Cluster analysis 



This research was supported by grants from the Canadian National Health Research Development Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to S. Sadava. We also acknowledge the assistance of Sasha Lovegrove, Don McCreary, Colin Perrier, Peter Snelgrove, and Stefanie Wiebe.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Busseri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stanley Sadava
    • 1
  • Danielle Molnar
    • 1
  • Nancy DeCourville
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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