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A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Randomized Controlled Positive Psychological Interventions on Subjective and Psychological Well-Being

Abstract

We conducted a meta-analysis to analyze the effects of randomized controlled positive psychological interventions on subjective and psychological well-being. Our aim was to extend previous research by following a more comprehensive approach in the selection of studies, by including new moderators, by focusing on adult nonclinical populations and increases in well-being, and by comparing the effects of interventions targeting subjective and psychological well-being (i.e., hedonism or eudemonia) or a combination of the two. In contrast to previous analyses, we compared effects on different outcomes and contrasted effects of technology-assisted interventions with traditional ones. We included 68 randomized controlled studies of nonclinical populations with a total of 16,085 participants. The results showed that positive psychological interventions do increase well-being. The overall effect size (Cohen’s d) was 0.23, but it was 0.08 for psychological well-being, 0.22 for subjective well-being, and 0.43 when the studies targeted both types of well-being. Longer interventions showed stronger immediate effects than shorter ones, and interventions based on traditional methods were more effective than those that used technology-assisted methods. With respect to short-term outcomes, there was a negative relation to age, but when long-term effects were considered, the relation to age was positive. Overall, we also found evidence of long-term effects of the interventions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Bolier et al. (2013) reported the effect sizes in a different metric (r). We converted them to Cohen’s d for consistency and ease of comparison (Cumming and Calin-Jageman 2016).

  2. 2.

    Both Hendriks et al. (2018) and Hendriks et al. (2019) reported the effect sizes in Hedge’s g. We converted them to Cohen’s d for consistency and ease of comparison (Cumming and Calin-Jageman 2016).

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Koydemir, S., Sökmez, A.B. & Schütz, A. A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Randomized Controlled Positive Psychological Interventions on Subjective and Psychological Well-Being. Applied Research Quality Life 16, 1145–1185 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-019-09788-z

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Keywords

  • Positive psychology
  • Positive psychological interventions
  • Meta-analysis
  • Well-being
  • Happiness