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Environmental Influences on Well-Being: A Dyadic Latent Panel Analysis of Spousal Similarity


This article uses dyadic latent panel analysis (DLPA) to examine environmental influences on well-being. DLPA requires longitudinal dyadic data. It decomposes the observed variance of both members of a dyad into a trait, state, and an error component. Furthermore, state variance is decomposed into initial and new state variance. Total observed similarity between members of a dyad is decomposed into trait similarity, initial state similarity, new state similarity, and error similarity. Dyadic similarity in new state variance reveals that both members of a dyad change in the same direction, which is a strong indication of environmental effects. DLPA is used to examine environmental influences on life satisfaction and domain satisfaction based on 22 annual assessments of married couples in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (N’s = 607–740). The results show high similarity in new state variance for life satisfaction and objectively identical domains (household income, housing), and less similarity for objectively less similar domains (recreation, health). This finding provides strong evidence for environmental influences on well-being. In addition, the results show high trait similarity. The implications of the latter finding for interpretation of behavioral genetics studies of well-being are discussed.

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    An annotated Mplus syntax file is available from the first author upon request.


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We would like to thank Jennifer Tackett, Kelly L. Klump, Lindon Eaves, and Shigehiro Oishi, and Ivana Anusic for helpful comments. The preparation of this article was supported by a standard research grant of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awarded to the first author.

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Correspondence to Ulrich Schimmack.

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Schimmack, U., Lucas, R.E. Environmental Influences on Well-Being: A Dyadic Latent Panel Analysis of Spousal Similarity. Soc Indic Res 98, 1–21 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-009-9516-8

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  • Well being
  • Satisfaction
  • Environment
  • Longitudinal
  • Dyadic
  • Couples
  • Spouses
  • Heritability