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September 2021

Many reasons speak against it, yet many people feel good: The paradox of subjective well-being

Journal/Book: Psychol Rundsch. 2000; 51: Rohnsweg 25, D-37085 Gottingen, Germany. Hogrefe & Huber Publishers. 185-197.

Abstract: It is suggested that the well-being paradox consists of two facets: (i) even under adversive circumstances many people are happy, and (ii) the empirical mean of subjective well-being seems to be in the positive range. It is demonstrated that the well-being paradox is not just a methodological artifact. Subjective well-being can be measured reliably and with predictive validity. Also imprecise risk assessment does not completely dissolve the paradox. Further, domain-specific, dimensional, and longitudinal measurement of subjective well-being contribute some pieces to the puzzle but do not complete it. Central to the regulation of subjective well-being, however, are mechanisms and characteristics of self and personality such as comparison processes, adjustment of aspirational levels, goal investment patterns, and coping styles but also personality dimensions and characteristics of the self definition. Biological and cultural evolution may have contributed to the fact that the empirical mean of subjective well-being is positive, but also that the regulation of well-being has limits. Finally, the developmental model of selective optimization with compensation is offered as integrative framework for the evidence presented.

Note: Article Staudinger UM, Tech Univ Dresden, Inst Psychol 4, Weberplatz 5, D-01062 Dresden, GERMANY

Keyword(s): subjective well-being; self-regulation; adaptivity; psychological resilience; OLD-AGE; MENTAL-HEALTH; LIFE EVENTS; SELF; PERSONALITY; SAMPLE; PREDICTORS; ADULTHOOD; HAPPINESS; PROGRESS

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