Positive Psychology and Subjective Well-Being Homeostasis: A Critical Examination of Congruence

Chapter
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 51)

Abstract

The new field of positive psychology has introduced fresh air into the discipline. Instead of focussing on pathology, attention may now be directed to the benefits of enhancing subjective well-being (SWB) for individual and societal functioning. However, as with all new fields of endeavour, the promise of new technology is easy to overstate, so checks and balances are required to arrive at a realistic view of what can and what cannot be achieved. One alternative view, which set limits to the malleability of SWB, is provided by the theory of Subjective Well-being Homeostasis. This proposes that levels of SWB are actively managed to remain within a set-point range for each individual and that efforts to shift SWB either above or below this range will be resisted. This chapter will examine the theoretical basis for both views and evaluate the empirical support for each position. The outcome will be discussed in the context of realistic therapeutic goals.

Keywords

Life Satisfaction Positive Affect Positive Psychology Positive Mood Personal Wellbeing Index 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Affleck, G., & Tennen, H. (1996). Construing benefits from adversity: Adaptational significance and dispositional underpinnings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 899–922.Google Scholar
  2. Aspinwall, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2010). The value of positive psychology for health psychology: Progress and pitfalls in examining the relation of positive phenomena to health. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39, 4–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J. E., & Erbaugh, J. K. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561–571.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blore, J. D., Stokes, M. A., Mellor, D., Firth, L., & Cummins, R. A. (2011). Comparing multiple discrepancies theory to affective models of subjective wellbeing. Social Indicators Research, 100, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Christopher, M. S., & Gilbert, B. D. (2010). Incremental validity of components of mindfulness in the prediction of satisfaction with life and depression. Current Psychology, 29, 10–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coyne, J. C., Tennen, H., & Ranchor, A. V. (2010). Positive psychology in cancer care: A story line resistant to evidence. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39, 35–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Craig, C. (2007). The potential dangers of a systematic, explicit approach to teaching social and emotional skills (SEAL). Retrieved June 22, 2011 from http://www.centreforconfidence.co.uk/docs/EI-SEAL_September_2007.pdf
  9. Culbertson, S. S., Fullagar, C. J., & Mills, M. J. (2010). Feeling good and doing great: The relationship between psychological capital and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15, 421–433.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cummins, R. A. (1995). On the trail of the gold standard for life satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 35, 179–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cummins, R. A. (1998). The second approximation to an international standard of life satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 43, 307–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cummins, R. A. (2000). Personal income and subjective well-being: A review. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 133–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cummins, R. A. (2010). Subjective wellbeing, homeostatically protected mood and depression: A synthesis. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 1–17. doi: 10.1007/s10902-009-9167-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cummins, R. A. (in press). Core affect. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of quality of life research. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Cummins, R. A., & Nistico, H. (2002). Maintaining life satisfaction: The role of positive cognitive bias. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 37–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cummins, R. A., Gullone, E., & Lau, A. L. D. (2002). A model of subjective well being homeostasis: The role of personality. In E. Gullone & R. A. Cummins (Eds.), The universality of subjective wellbeing indicators: Social indicators research series (pp. 7–46). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cummins, R. A., Walter, J., & Woerner, J. (2007a). Australian unity wellbeing index: Report 16.1 – “The wellbeing of Australians – Groups with the highest and lowest wellbeing in Australia”. Melbourne, Australian Centre on Quality of Life, School of Psychology, Deakin University. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/index_wellbeing/index.htm
  18. Cummins, R. A., Woerner, J., Tomyn, A., Gibson, A., & Knapp, T. (2007b). Australian unity wellbeing index: Report 17.0 – “The wellbeing of Australians – Work, wealth and happiness”. Melbourne: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, School of Psychology, Deakin University. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/index_wellbeing/index.htm
  19. Cummins, R. A., Woerner, J. M. W., Perera, C., Gibson-Prosser, A., Collard, J., et al. (2010). Australian unity wellbeing index: – Report 24.0 – The wellbeing of Australians – Trust, life better/worse and climate change. Melbourne: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, School of Psychology, Deakin University. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/index_wellbeing/index.htm
  20. Curhan, J. R., Elfenbein, H. A., & Eisenkraft, N. (2010). The objective value of subjective value: A multi-round negotiation study. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 690–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davern, M., Cummins, R. A., & Stokes, M. (2007). Subjective wellbeing as an affective/cognitive construct. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 429–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Diener, E. D., Napa-Scollon, C. K., & Lucas, R. E. (2004). The evolving concept of subjective well-being: The multifaceted nature of happiness. In P. T. Coista & I. C. Siegler (Eds.), Recent advances in psychology and aging (pp. 67–100). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  24. Dumas, J. E., Johnson, M., & Lynch, A. M. (2002). Likableness, familiarity, and frequency of 844 person-descriptive words. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 523–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Elster, J. (1999). Alchemies of the mind: Rationality and the emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2002). Positive affect and the other side of coping. American Psychologist, 55, 647–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forgas, J. P., Vargas, P., & Laham, S. (2005). Mood effects on eyewitness memory: Affective influences on susceptibility to misinformation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 574–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fowers, B. J. (2008). From continence to virtue – recovering goodness, character unity, and character types for positive psychology. Theory & Psychology, 18, 629–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045–1062.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213–233.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Froh, J. J., Kashdanb, T. B., Ozimkowskia, K. M., & Millera, N. (2009a). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 408–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009b). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 633–650.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Greenberg, M. S., & Westcott, D. R. (1983). Indebtedness as a mediator of reactions to aid. In J.D. Fisher, A. Nadler, & B. M. DePaulo (Eds.), New directions in helping: Recipient reactions to aid (pp. 85–112). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  36. Hamilton, M. (1960). A rating scale for depression. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 23, 56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Harris, A. H. S., Thoresen, C. E., & Lopez, S. J. (2007). Integrating positive psychology into counseling: Why and (when appropriate) how. Journal of Counseling and Development, 85, 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Held, B. S. (2004). The negative side of positive psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 9–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Helson, H. (1964). Adaptation-level theory. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  40. Henderson, S. (1977). The social network, support and neurosis. The function of attachment in adult life. British Journal of Psychiatry, 131, 185–191.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hicks, J. A., Cicero, D. C., Trent, J., Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2010). Positive affect, intuition, and feelings of meaning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 967–979.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Howard, F. (2008). Managing stress or enhancing wellbeing? Positive psychology’s contributions to clinical supervision. Australian Psychologist, 43, 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. International Wellbeing Group. (2006). Personal wellbeing index manual. Melbourne: Deakin University. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/instruments/wellbeing-index/pwi-a-english.pdf
  44. Kesebir, P., & Diener, E. D. (2008). In pursuit of happiness empirical answers to philosophical questions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 117–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kirschman, K. J. B., Roberts, M. C., Shadlow, J. O., & Pelley, T. J. (2010). An evaluation of hope following a summer camp for inner-city youth. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39, 385–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Koo, M., & Oishi, S. (2009). False memory and the associative network of happiness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 212–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Koo, M., Algoe, S. B., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). It’s a wonderful life: Mentally subtracting positive events improves people’s affective states, contrary to their affective forecasts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1217–1224.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Laurent, J., Cantanzaro, J. S., Thomas, J. E., Rudolph, D. K., Potter, K. I., Lambert, S., et al. (1999). A measure of positive and negative affect for children: Scale development and preliminary validation. Psychological Assessment, 11, 326–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7, 186–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Martin, M. W. (2007). Happiness and virtue in positive psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 37, 89–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Miller, A. (2008). A critique of positive psychology – or ‘the new science of happiness’. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42, 591–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Norrish, J. M., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2009). Positive psychology and adolescents: Where are we now? Where to from here? Australian Psychologist, 44, 270–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Proctor, C., Maltby, J., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths use as a predictor of well-being and health-related quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 153–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Renn, D., Pfaffenberger, N., Platter, M., Mitmansgruber, H., Höfer, S., & Cummins, R. A. (2009). International well-being index: The Austrian version. Social Indicators Research, 90, 243–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Roese, N. J. (1997). Counterfactual thinking. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 133–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rothbaum, F., Weisz, J. R., & Snyder, S. S. (1982). Changing the world and changing the self: A two-process model of perceived control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 5–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Røysamb, E., Harris, J. R., Magnus, P., Vitterso, J., & Tambs, K. (2002). Subjective well-being: Sex-specific effects of genetic and environmental factors. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 211–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Russell, J. (2003). Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110, 145–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Russell, J. A. (2009). Emotion, core affect, and psychological construction. Cognition & Emotion, 23, 1259–1283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sarason, I. G., Sarason, B. R., & Pierce, G. R. (1990). Social support: The search for theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 9, 137–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schwarz, N. (1999, February). Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers. American Psychologist, 54, 93–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1991). Evaluating one’s life: A judgement model of subjective well-being. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 27–47). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  64. Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  65. Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Positive interventions. Paper presented at the 4th International Positive Psychology Summit, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  66. Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Coaching and positive psychology. Australian Psychologist, 42, 266–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Seligman, M. E. P., Abramson, L. Y., Semmel, A., & von Baeyer, C. (1979). Depressive attributional style. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 242–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35, 293–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research, 61, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 467–487.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Solomon, R. C. (1977). The passions. Garden City: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  74. Stubbe, J. H., Posthuma, D., Boomsma, D. I., & de Geus, E. J. (2005). Heritability of life satisfaction in adults: A twin-family study. Psychological Medicine, 35, 1581–1588.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Suissa, J. (2008). Lessons from a new science? On teaching happiness in schools. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42, 575–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Sundararajan, L. (2008). Toward a reflexive positive psychology – insights from the Chinese Buddhist notion of emptiness. Theory & Psychology, 18, 655–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tomyn, A. J., & Cummins, R. A. (2011). Subjective Wellbeing and Homeostatically Protected Mood: Theory Validation with Adolescents. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(5), 897–914.doi: 10.1007/s10902-010-9235-5 Google Scholar
  78. Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective wellbeing. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Watson, D., Clark, L., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 245–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890–905.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yik, M. S. M., Russell, J. A., & Barrett, L. F. (1999). Structure of self-reported current affect: Integration and beyond. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 600–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations