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Subjective well being

Subjective well-being (SWB) has been defined as a person cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life’ (Diener, Lucas, & Oshi, 2002). The cognitive component refers to what one individual thinks about his or her life satisfaction in universal terms (life as a whole) and in domain terms (in particular areas of life such as job, relationships, etc.) The affective elements refer to ‘emotions moods, and feelings’. Affect is measured positive when the emotions, moods and feelings practiced are pleasant (e.g. joy, elation, affection etc.) Affect has been deemed negative, though when the emotions, moods and feelings practiced are unpleasant “e.g. guilt, anger, shame etc.”

A one who has a high level of satisfaction with their life and who experiences a better positive affect and little or less negative affect would be deemed to have a higher level of SWB “or in simpler terms, be very happy” The theory of SWB falls within the “hedonic” perspective that clarifies well-being or happiness as being fundamentally about increasing pleasure and or decreasing pain. This differs from the “eudemonic” perspective which as Waterman (1993) declared, is where one person lives in agreement with one diamon, or “true self’. This point of view places emphasize on meaning of life and self-realization, and the degree to which an individual fully integrates this into his or her life.

When psychologists calculate subjective well being they are calculating how people imagine and feel regarding their lives, The three components of subjective well being life satisfaction, positive affects and negative effects are independent factors and that should be measured and studied individually (Andrews & Withey, 1976, Lucas et al., 1996). Thus, the existence of positive affect does not represent the lack of negative affect and vice versa. Before judging the correlates and predictors of Subjective well being it is worth noting the instruments used in calculating the gears of Subjective well being. Life satisfaction can be deliberate using a questionnaire such as the 5 items contentment with life questionnaire (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985) Affectivity can be calculated by for example, the PANAS “positive affect negative affect schedule” (Watson, Clark & Tellegan, 1988). Both of the pre defined measures are examples of self-report measures. Other methods of evaluation include the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) (Stone et al., 1999), informer reports from family and friends (Sandvik et al., 1993) and memory recall of positive v/s negative life actions (Seidlitz, Wyer & Diener, 1997). The ESM works as a pager which at unsystematic intervals signals the respondent to copy their mood at that point when they have paged.

These dimensions are taken over a period such as a month or 6 weeks and are then have averaged out to give an indication of an individual level of positive and negative effect. The self-report calculations have raised some concerns to several positive psychologists (e.g. Schwartz & Strack, 1991). They have showed that SWB scores can be predisposed by a number of factors such as situational factors the type of scales that have used the order in which the items have presented and ‘the mood of the respondent at the time when the measurement was taken’ Most researchers advise the use of a ‘multi-method battery to evaluate Subjective well Being wherever possible’ since a more perfect assessment of Subjective Well Being can be achieved and the sum of response artifices can be minimized. In common however self-reported well being calculations have exposed convergence with non-self report methods as well as little physiological calculations (Lucas et al., 1996).

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