Subjective Well-Being as a Dynamic and Agentic System: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study
- 602 Downloads
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.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Life satisfaction Positive affect Negative affect Dynamic systems
This research was supported by grants to the first and second authors from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- World Health Organization. (WHO). (1996). Basic documents (41st ed.). Geneva, Switzerland: Author.Google Scholar