Social Indicators Research

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 41–60 | Cite as

The Influence of Environment and Personality on the Affective and Cognitive Component of Subjective Well-being

  • Ulrich SchimmackEmail author
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Gert G. Wagner


Subjective well-being (SWB) has two components: affective well-being (AWB) and cognitive well-being (CWB). The present study demonstrated that AWB and CWB have are influenced by different factors in a nationally representative sample in Germany (N = 1053). Neuroticism was a stronger predictor of AWB than CWB. Unemployment and regional differences between the East and West of Germany were stronger predictors of CWB than AWB. In addition, the study demonstrated that shared evaluative biases in personality and SWB ratings inflate estimates of the effect size of personality. After controlling for this bias, the effects of environmental factors (unemployment, regional differences) on CWB were stronger than the effects of personality (neuroticism). The results demonstrate that AWB and CWB are distinct components of SWB and that research findings for one component may not generalize to the other component. The results also raise important questions about the weighing of the two components in the creation of subjective social indicators.


Well-being Life satisfaction Affect Unemployment Personality Neuroticism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Schimmack
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jürgen Schupp
    • 2
  • Gert G. Wagner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Toronto, Mississauga (UTM)MississaugaCanada
  2. 2.German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) and Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Berlin University of Technology and German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)BerlinGermany

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