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Self-Efficacy for Affect Regulation as a Predictor of Future Life Satisfaction and Moderator of the Negative Affect—Life Satisfaction Relationship


Life satisfaction is an important index of mental health and also predicts other important outcomes such as longevity and decreased mortality. Negative affect has a unique inverse relationship with life satisfaction across the life span. Therefore, determining psychological factors that uniquely predict future life satisfaction and that reduce the trait negative affect—life satisfaction relationship is theoretically and clinically important. In light of recent evidence from long-term longitudinal studies that self-efficacy for regulation of negative emotions (SERN) predicts higher future life satisfaction, as well as evidence from a cross-sectional study that a subtype of SERN—self-efficacy for regulating anger—buffers the relationship between trait negative affect and life satisfaction, we tested whether SERN and subtypes of SERN predicted higher life satisfaction and buffered the negative affect—life satisfaction relationship longitudinally over short time periods. After controlling for time 1 life satisfaction, higher time 1 self-efficacy for regulating despondency and distress (SEDes) predicted higher future life satisfaction over average time periods of 17 days (N = 127), 32 days (N = 83), and 41 days (N = 65) among college students. However, in post hoc exploratory regressions that included self-efficacy for experience and expression of positive emotions (SEPos), SEDes predicted higher time 2 life satisfaction, but only SEPos uniquely predicted higher time 3 and time 4 life satisfaction.

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Lightsey, O.R., McGhee, R., Ervin, A. et al. Self-Efficacy for Affect Regulation as a Predictor of Future Life Satisfaction and Moderator of the Negative Affect—Life Satisfaction Relationship. J Happiness Stud 14, 1–18 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9312-4

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  • Life satisfaction
  • Self-efficacy
  • Negative affect
  • Affect regulation
  • Prospective