Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1073–1089 | Cite as

Well-Being: Objectivism, Subjectivism or Sobjectivism?

  • Andrew K. MacLeodEmail author
Review Article


Well-being is defined in a range of different ways, most notably in the psychological and philosophical literatures. A dimensional scheme is presented that locates the variety of approaches to well-being according to how much they define it by a person’s positive subjective state as opposed to requiring the presence of a range of other, more objective life goods (e.g., achievement, relationships, etc.). Adopting a dimensional model allows variations from the traditional subjectivist and objectivist positions, including a variety of mixed subjective and objective (sobjective) positions. Sobjectivist positions vary in the relative weighting of feeling states and more objective elements, as well as how these two different elements are seen as relating to each other. The dimensional model also has the important effect of enabling psychological and philosophical thinking about well-being to be integrated despite their differences in emphases and concerns. A number of different ways that these two aspects can be combined are outlined, including a two-tier model with happiness as a final good and other goods having value to the extent that they lead to happiness.


Well-being Subjectivism Objectivism Hedonia Eudaimonia 



I am grateful to Roger Crisp, Steve Holland, Mick Power and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this paper and to Roger Crisp for helpful discussions of the material.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRoyal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK

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