Social Indicators Research

, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 1265–1288 | Cite as

Testing Set-Point Theory in a Swiss National Sample: Reaction and Adaptation to Major Life Events

  • Ivana AnusicEmail author
  • Stevie C. Y. Yap
  • Richard E. Lucas


Set-point theory posits that individuals react to the experience of major life events, but quickly adapt back to pre-event baseline levels of subjective well-being in the years following the event. A large, nationally representative panel study of Swiss households was used to examine set-point theory by investigating the extent of adaptation following the experience of marriage, childbirth, widowhood, unemployment, and disability. Our results demonstrate that major life events are associated with marked changes in life satisfaction and, for some events (e.g., marriage, disability), these changes are relatively long lasting even when accounting for normative, age related changes.


Happiness Subjective well-being Life events Adaptation Swiss Household Panel 



The data used in this article were made available to us by the Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences (FORS). The Swiss Household Panel is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and based at FORS in Lausanne, Switzerland. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the data archive bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. This research was supported in part by Doctoral Fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Ivana Anusic and Stevie Yap, and NIA grants AG032001 and AG040715 awarded to Richard Lucas.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivana Anusic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stevie C. Y. Yap
    • 1
  • Richard E. Lucas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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