Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1085–1112 | Cite as

Subjective Well-Being as a Dynamic and Agentic System: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study

  • Michael A. BusseriEmail author
  • Stan W. Sadava
Research Paper

Abstract

Subjective well-being (SWB) comprises individual differences in life satisfaction (LS), positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA), and is typically conceptualized as an important life outcome. In contrast, Shmotkin (Rev Gen Psychol 9:291–325, 2005) proposed that SWB is a dynamic and agentic system that promotes optimal functioning, and is organized within individuals as configurations of LS, PA, and NA. We investigated three fundamental features of this novel framework. A 3-year, two-wave longitudinal study (N = 446 Canadian students; Mage = 18.67; 73 % female) was undertaken. The same set of five SWB configurations were observed at each time point, including congruous and incongruous profiles. Consistent with the hypothesized dynamic nature of the SWB system intraindividual stability in SWB configurations (operationalized in terms of categorical cluster membership and prototypicality scores) was moderate. In support of the proposed responsive nature of the SWB system, changes over time in individuals’ SWB configurations were predicted by changes in psychological, physical, and interpersonal functioning. Consonant with the proposed promotive role of the SWB system, positive functioning and changes in functioning over time were predicted by individuals’ SWB configurations and changes in configurations. The present work provides support for the proposed dynamic and agentic nature of SWB. Unique insights offered by a configural perspective on SWB are discussed.

Keywords

Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Positive affect Negative affect Dynamic systems 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grants to the first and second authors from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

References

  1. Adlaf, E. M., Gliksman, L., Demers, A., & Newton-Taylor, B. (2001). The prevalence of elevated psychological distress among Canadian undergraduates: Findings from the 1998 Canadian Campus Survey. Journal of American College Health, 50, 67–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social influences of well-being. New York, NY: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthaud-Day, M. L., Rode, J. C., Mooney, C. H., & Near, J. P. (2005). The subjective well-being construct: A test of its convergent, discriminant, and factorial validity. Social Indicators Research, 74, 445–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Asendorpf, J. B. (2003). Head-to-head comparison of the predictive validity of personality types and dimensions. European Journal of Personality, 17, 327–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergman, L. R. (1998). A pattern-oriented approach to studying individual development: Snapshots and processes. In R. B. Cairns, L. R. Bergman, & J. Kagan (Eds.), Methods and models for studying the individual (pp. 83–122). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Bergman, L. R., & Daukantaite, D. (2009). Stability of typical patterns of subjective well-being in middle-aged Swedish women. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergman, L. R., Magnusson, D., & El-Khouri, B. M. (2003). Studying individual development in an interindividual context: A person-oriented approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Biswas-Diener, R., Vitterso, J., & Diener, E. (2005). Most people are pretty happy, but there is cultural variation: The Inughuit, the Amish, and the Maasai. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 205–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Busseri, M. A., & Sadava, S. W. (2011). A review of the tripartite structure of subjective well-being: Implications for conceptualization, operationalization, analysis, and synthesis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15, 290–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Busseri, M. A., Sadava, S. W., Molnar, D. S., & DeCourville, N. (2009). A person-centered approach to subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 161–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cacioppo, J. T., Garnder, W. L., & Bernston, G. G. (1999). The affect system has parallel and integrative processing components: Form follows function. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 839–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cairney, J., Corna, L. M., Veldhuizen, S., Herrman, N., & Streiner, D. L. (2008). Comorbid depression and anxiety in later life: Patterns of association, subjective well-being, and impairment. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 16, 201–208.Google Scholar
  13. Campbell, A. (1981). Subjective measures of well-being. American Psychologist, 31, 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chapman, B. P., & Goldberg, L. R. (2011). Replicability and 4-year predictive power of childhood ARC types. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 593–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chesney, M. A., Darbes, L. A., Hoerster, K., Taylor, J. M., Chambers, D. B., & Anderson, D. E. (2005). Positive emotions: Exploring the other hemisphere in behavioral medicine. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12, 50–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Costa, P. T., Herbst, J. H., McCrae, R. R., Samuels, J., & Ozer, D. J. (2002). The replicability and utility of three personality types. European Journal of Personality, 16, S73–S87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 668–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cronbach, L. J., & Glesser, G. C. (1953). Assessing similarity between profiles. Psychological Bulletin, 50, 456–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davern, M., Cummins, R. A., & Stokes, M. A. (2007). Subjective wellbeing as an affective-cognitive construct. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 429–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. DeNeve, K. M., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 197–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55, 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Diener, E. (2008). Myths in the science of happiness, and directions for future research. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 493–514). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  24. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (1999). Personality and subjective well-being. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (p. 3). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  26. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Scollon, C. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Diener, E., Sapyta, J. J., & Suh, E. (1998). Subjective well-being is essential to well-being. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 33–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological Science, 13, 81–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dolan, P., & White, M. (2006). Dynamic well-being: Connecting indicators of what people anticipate with indicators of what they experience. Social Indicators Research, 75, 303–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Feist, G. J., Bodner, T. E., Jacobs, J. F., Miles, J., & Tan, V. (1995). Integrating top-down and bottom-up structural models of subjective well-being: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 138–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Griffin, D. W., & Bartholomew, K. (1994). Models of the self and other: Fundamental dimensions underlying measures of adult attachment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 430–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hart, D., Eisenberg, N., & Valiente, C. (2007). Personality change at the interaction of autonomic arousal and stress. Psychological Science, 18, 492–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Headey, B., Veenhoven, R., & Wearing, A. (1991). Top-down versus bottom-up theories of subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 24, 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Headey, B., & Wearing, A. (1989). Personality, life events, and subjective well-being: Toward a dynamic equilibrium model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 731–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jackson, L. M., Pancer, S. M., Pratt, M. W., & Hunsberger, B. E. (2000). Great expectations: The relation between expectancies and adjustment during the transition to university. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 2100–2125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keyes, C. L. M. (2003). Complete mental health: An agenda for the 21st century. In C. L. M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived (pp. 293–312). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Keyes, C. L. M., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2002). Complete health: Prevalence and predictors among U.S. adults in 1995. American Journal of Health Promotion, 17, 122–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kilpatrick, F. P., & Cantril, H. (1960). Self-anchoring scaling: A measure of individuals’ unique reality worlds. Journal of Individual Psychology, 16, 158–173.Google Scholar
  42. Kim, D.-Y. (2004). The implicit life satisfaction measure. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 236–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kim-Prieto, C., Diener, E., Tamir, M., Scollon, C., & Diener, M. (2005). Integrating the diverse definitions of happiness: A time-sequential framework of subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 261–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. King, L. A., & Miner, K. N. (2000). Writing about the perceived benefits of traumatic events: Implications for physical health. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 220–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kurdek, L. A. (2002). On being insecure about the assessment of attachment styles. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 811–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 6, 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Magnusson, D. (2003). The person-centered approach: Concepts, measurement models, and research strategy. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 101, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McKennell, A. C. (1978). Cognitive and affect in perceptions of well-being. Social Indicators Research, 5, 389–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mendes de Leon, C. F., & Markides, K. S. (1986). Alcohol consumption and physical symptoms in a Mexican American population. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 16, 369–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Michalos, A. C. (1980). Satisfaction and happiness. Social Indicators Research, 8, 385–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Oishi, S., Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2007). The optimum level of well-being: Can people be too happy? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 346–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Okun, M. A., & George, L. K. (1984). Physician- and self-ratings of health, neuroticism and subjective well-being among men and women. Personality and Individual Differences, 5, 533–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ong, A. D. (2010). Pathways linking positive emotions and health in later life. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19, 358–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2008). The satisfaction with life scale and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 925–971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1998). The contours of positive human health. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sarason, I. G., Sarason, B. R., Shearin, E. N., & Pierce, G. R. (1987). A brief measure of social support. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 497–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schafer, J. L., & Graham, J. W. (2002). Missing data: Our view of the state of the art. Psychological Methods, 7, 147–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schimmack, U. (2008). The structure of subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 97–123). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  61. Schimmack, U., & Crites, S. L. (2005). The structure of affect. In D. Albarracin, B. T. Johnson, & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), The handbook of attitudes (pp. 397–435). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  62. Schimmack, U., Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2002). Life-satisfaction is a momentary judgment and a stable personality characteristic: The use of chronically accessible and stable sources. Journal of Personality, 70, 345–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schimmack, U., Schupp, J., & Wagner, G. G. (2008). The influence of environment and personality on the affective and cognitive component of subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 89, 41–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Seidlitz, L., & Diener, E. (1993). Memory for positive versus negative life events: Theories for the differences between happy and unhappy persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 654–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Seidlitz, L., Wyer, R. S., & Diener, E. (1997). Cognitive correlates of subjective well-being: The processing of valenced life events by happy and unhappy persons. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 240–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Seligman, M. E. P. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 55–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Shmotkin, D. (1998). Declarative and differential aspects of subjective well-being and its implications for mental health in later life. In J. Lomranz (Ed.), Handbook of aging and mental health: An integrative approach (pp. 15–43). New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  69. Shmotkin, D. (2005). Happiness in the face of adversity: Reformulating the dynamic and modular bases of subjective well-being. Review of General Psychology, 9, 291–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Shmotkin, D., Berkovich, M., & Cohen, K. (2006). Combining happiness and suffering in a retrospective view of anchor periods in life: A differential approach to subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 77, 139–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Shmotkin, D., & Hadari, G. (1996). An outlook on subjective well-being in older Israeli adults: A unified formulation. International Journal of Human Development, 42, 271–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Shmotkin, D., Lerner-Geva, L., Cohen-Mansfield, J., Blumstein, T., Eyal, N., Shorek, A., et al. (2010). Profiles of functioning as predictors of mortality in old age: The advantage of a configurative approach. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 51, 68–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sirgy, M. J., Michalos, A. C., Ferriss, A. L., Easterlin, R. A., Patrick, D., & Pavot, W. (2006). The quality-of-life (QOL) research movement: Past, present, and future. Social Indicators Research, 76, 343–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Steel, P., Schmidt, J., & Schulz, J. (2008). Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 138–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Uchida, Y., Kitayama, S., Mesquita, B., Reyes, J. A. S., & Morling, B. (2008). Is perceived emotional support beneficial? Well-being and health in independent and interdependent cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 741–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Vallacher, R. R., Read, S. J., & Nowak, A. (2002). The dynamical perspective in personality and social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 264–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Veenhoven, R. (2008). Health and happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 449–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Walker, S. S., & Schimmack, U. (2008). Validity of a happiness implicit association test as a measure of subjective well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 490–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Ware, J. E., Snow, K. K., Kosinski, M., & Gandek, B. (1993). SF-36 health survey manual and interpretation guide. Boston, MA: The Health Institute.Google Scholar
  80. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Watson, D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (1988). Health complaints, stress and distress: Exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychological Review, 96, 234–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wiese, S. L., Vallacher, R. R., & Strawinska, U. (2010). Dynamical social psychology: Complexity and coherence in human experience. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 1018–1030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. World Health Organization. (WHO). (1996). Basic documents (41st ed.). Geneva, Switzerland: Author.Google Scholar
  84. Xu, J., & Roberts, R. E. (2010). The power of positive emotions: It’s a matter of life or death—Subjective well-being and longevity over 28 years in a general population. Health Psychology, 29, 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

Personalised recommendations