Social Indicators Research

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 139–169 | Cite as

Combining Happines’s and Suffering in a Retrospective View of Anchor Periods in Life: A Differential Approach to Subjective Well-Being

  • Dov ShmotkinEmail author
  • Michal Berkovich
  • Keren Cohen


The intersection of dimensions of subjective well-being (SWB) generates SWB types. We delineated SWB types by cross-tabulating happiness and suffering ratings that participants attributed to outstandingly meaningful periods in their life referred to as anchor periods. A sample of 499 older Israelis (age 58–94) was queried about two positive periods (the happiest, the most important) and two negative periods (the most miserable, the most difficult). A variety of variables discriminated between the more frequent congruous types of Happy (high happiness and low suffering) and Unhappy (low happiness and high suffering), but also presented the incongruous types of Inflated (high happiness and high suffering) and Deflated (low happiness and low suffering) as discriminable. Thus, women were more likely to be Inflated whereas men were more likely to be Deflated; low education related more to Happy in the happiest period and to Unhappy in the negative periods; present life satisfaction related more to Happy than to Unhappy in the positive, but not in the negative, periods; and Holocaust survivors were more likely to be Deflated and Unhappy in the negative, but not in the positive, periods. The study supported a differential perspective on SWB within people’s narratives of their lives.


happiness life narrative psychological types subjective well-being suffering 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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