Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 681–716 | Cite as

The 3P Model: A General Theory of Subjective Well-Being

  • Adorée Durayappah
Research Paper


Empirical research focusing on the field of subjective well-being has resulted in a range of theories, components, and measures, yet only a modicum of work leans towards the establishment of a general theory of subjective well-being. I propose that a temporal model of subjective well-being, called the 3P Model, is a parsimonious, unifying theory, which accounts for, as well as unites, disparate theories and measurements. The 3P Model categorizes the components of subjective well-being under the temporal states of the Present, the Past, and the Prospect (Future). The model indicates how each state is important to a global evaluation of subjective well-being and how each state is distinct yet connected to the other states. Additionally, the model explains how measures of subjective well-being are affected by cognitive biases (e.g., peak-end rule, impact bias, retrospective bias), which factor into evaluations of the temporal states, and meta-biases (e.g., temporal perspectives), which factor into global evaluations of life satisfaction. Finally, future research is recommended to further support the model as well as create interventions that can be chosen based on an individual’s temporal preference or that can be designed to counteract certain biases.


Subjective well-being Happiness Emotion Mood Cognitive biases Time perspective 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Master of Applied Positive Psychology ProgramUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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