A Dialogue-Based Approach to Subjective Well-Being: Co-Interpreting the Meaning of Daily Experiences
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Different from statistically analyzed self-reports of Subjective Well-Being (SWB), we explored how dialogue engenders the meaning of SWB as constituted through an individual’s daily experiences. A revised Day Reconstruction Method (DRM; Kahneman et al. 2004) was used to describe the participants’ previous day episodically, followed by a semi-structured life world interview (Kvale 1996) for the explication through dialogue of those episodes. The results of qualitative analyses on the structure and contents of the discourse of the DRM and interviews with three participants highlighted the following: 1) the participants construed the meaning of daily experiences by organizing and weighting them in individualized ways; 2) the meaning of daily episodes emerged and was clarified in the process of collaborative dialogue in the interview as well as in the analyses, and was vividly expressed in particular protocol sequences; and 3) Kelly’s (1955) notion of Personal Construct is applicable to make sense of individualized narratives as a form of Well-Being. We concluded that the subjectivity of SWB does not merely imply the first-person authority in charge of the evaluation in the questionnaires, but rather is understood as a construct that reveals the personal meaning of one’s daily experiences. The emergent quality of this process is crucial for understanding the nature of subjectivity in SWB.
KeywordsDialogue Subjective well-being Daily experiences Meaning construction
We would like to thank Jaan Valsiner and Tania Zittoun for their constructive comments on a previous version of the manuscript, as well as Sascha Monhoff, whose editorial comments were of great help.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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