Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 1033–1068 | Cite as

Two Concepts or Two Approaches? A Bifactor Analysis of Psychological and Subjective Well-Being

  • Fang Fang Chen
  • Yiming Jing
  • Adele Hayes
  • Jeong Min Lee
Research Paper

Abstract

Researchers often debate about whether there is a meaningful differentiation between psychological well-being and subjective well-being. One view argues that psychological and subjective well-being are distinct dimensions, whereas another view proposes that they are different perspectives on the same general construct and thus are more similar than different. The purpose of this investigation was to examine these two competing views by using a statistical approach, the bifactor model, that allows for an examination of the common variance shared by the two types of well-being and the unique variance specific to each. In one college sample and one nationally representative sample, the bifactor model revealed a strong general factor, which captures the common ground shared by the measures of psychological well-being and subjective well-being. The bifactor model also revealed four specific factors of psychological well-being and three specific factors of subjective well-being, after partialling out the general well-being factor. We further examined the relations of the specific factors of psychological and subjective well-being to external measures. The specific factors demonstrated incremental predictive power, independent of the general well-being factor. These results suggest that psychological well-being and subjective well-being are strongly related at the general construct level, but their individual components are distinct once their overlap with the general construct of well-being is partialled out. The findings thus indicate that both perspectives have merit, depending on the level of analysis.

Keywords

Bifactor model Second-order factor model Psychological well-being Subjective well-being Positive and negative affect Life satisfaction Personality 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fang Fang Chen
    • 1
  • Yiming Jing
    • 1
  • Adele Hayes
    • 1
  • Jeong Min Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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