Quality of Life Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 385–391 | Cite as

A brief psychological intervention to protect subjective well-being in a community sample

  • Christopher J. ArmitageEmail author



Governments are using measures of subjective well-being in preference to more objective measures of social progress (e.g., gross domestic product), yet interventions to address well-being are often costly. The present study tests the ability of a brief psychological intervention based on self-affirmation theory (Steele in Advances in experimental social psychology, Academic Press, New York, 1988) to protect subjective well-being among a community sample likely to have diminished well-being (i.e., women aged 46 years and older, Inglehart in Int J Comp Sociol 43: 391–408, 2002. doi: 10.1177/002071520204300309).


One hundred and forty women aged 46 years and older completed baseline measures of subjective well-being, interpersonal feelings and self-esteem at baseline before being randomized to a self-affirmation or control group. Subjective well-being, interpersonal feelings and self-esteem were assessed again at follow-up.


Results showed that, controlling for baseline subjective well-being, the well-being of women who had self-affirmed was significantly higher at follow-up than those in the control condition. Affirming the self did not significantly influence interpersonal feelings or self-esteem, compared with the control condition.


The findings suggest that a low-cost brief psychological intervention based on self-affirmation theory, with potentially large public health “reach,” could be used to protect subjective well-being—a key aim of government policies.


Brief intervention Subjective well-being Self-affirmation 



I would like to thank Josh Williamson for his help with collecting and entering the data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

I declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, School of Psychological Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science CentreUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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