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On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being

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  • Australian Catholic University North Sydney

Abstract

Well-being is a complex construct that concerns optimal experience and functioning. Current research on well-being has been derived from two general perspectives: the hedonic approach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance; and the eudaimonic approach, which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning. These two views have given rise to different research foci and a body of knowledge that is in some areas divergent and in others complementary. New methodological developments concerning multilevel modeling and construct comparisons are also allowing researchers to formulate new questions for the field. This review considers research from both perspectives concerning the nature of well-being, its antecedents, and its stability across time and culture.
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Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2001. 52:141–66
Copyright
c
2001 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
ON HAPPINESS AND HUMAN POTENTIALS:
A Review of Research on Hedonic and
Eudaimonic Well-Being
Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci
Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester,
Rochester, NY 14627; e-mail: ryan@psych.rochester.edu, deci@psych.rochester.edu
Key Words subjective well-being, psychological well-being, eudaimonia,
happiness, wellness
Abstract Well-beingisacomplexconstructthatconcerns optimalexperienceand
functioning. Current research on well-being has been derived from two general per-
spectives: the hedonicapproach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in
terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance; and the eudaimonic approach, which
focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree
to which a person is fully functioning. These two views have given rise to different
research foci and a body of knowledge that is in some areas divergent and in others
complementary. New methodological developments concerning multilevel modeling
and construct comparisons are also allowing researchers to formulate new questions
for the field. This review considers research from both perspectives concerning the
nature of well-being, its antecedents, and its stability across time and culture.
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ................................................ 142
TWO TRADITIONS IN THE STUDY OF WELL-BEING
...................143
The Hedonic View
.............................................. 143
The Eudaimonic View
........................................... 145
Applying the Two Viewpoints
...................................... 148
RESEARCH TOPICS IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WELL-BEING
............148
Personality, Individual Differences, and Well-Being
......................149
Emotions and Well-Being
......................................... 150
Physical Health and Its Relations to Well-Being
......................... 151
RESEARCH ON ANTECEDENTS OF WELL-BEING
.....................152
Social Class and Wealth as Predictors of Well-Being
......................152
Attachment, Relatedness, and Well-Being
............................. 154
Goal Pursuit and Well-Being: The Ups and Downs of Trying
................156
RESEARCH ON DIFFERENCES IN WELL-BEING ACROSS TIME
AND PLACE
.................................................. 157
0066-4308/01/0201-0141$14.00
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Lifespan Perspectives on Well-Being ................................. 157
Cultural Influences: Universality versus Relativism and Well-Being
...........159
SUMMARY
.................................................... 161
INTRODUCTION
The concept of well-being refers to optimal psychological functioning and expe-
rience. It is the focus not only of everyday interpersonal inquiries (e.g. “How are
you?”) but also of intense scientific scrutiny. Although the question, “How are
you?” may seem simple enough, theorists have found the issue of well-being to
be complex and controversial. Indeed, from the beginnings of intellectual history,
therehasbeenconsiderabledebateaboutwhatdefinesoptimalexperienceandwhat
constitutes “the good life. Obviously, this debate has enormous theoretical and
practical implications. How we define well-being influences our practices of gov-
ernment, teaching, therapy, parenting, and preaching, as all such endeavors aim to
change humans for the better, and thus require some vision of what “the better” is.
Well-being research seems especially prominent in current empirical psychol-
ogy. In part this reflects the increasing awareness that, just as positive affect is not
the opposite of negative affect (Cacioppo & Berntson 1999), well-being is not the
absence of mental illness. For much of the last century, psychology’s focus on the
amelioration of psychopathology overshadowed the promotion of well-being and
personalgrowth.Butbeginninginthe1960swithashiftinfocustowardprevention,
and continuing to the present, a few researchers have been studying growth (Deci
1975), well-being (Diener 1984), and the promotion of wellness (Cowen 1991).
Still,itisinterestingthatthereseemtohavebeentwoperiodswhentheAmerican
public, as well as the community of scientific psychologists, evidenced a partic-
ularly strong interest in issues of psychological growth and health, namely, the
1960s when the human potential movement swept this country, and currently
when considerable attention is being given to positive psychology (Seligman &
Csikszentmihalyi 2000). It may be no accident that these two periods represent
times of relative affluence, when the economically advantaged have found that
material security and luxury do not, in themselves, secure happiness. In this sense,
theburstsofinterestinwell-beingmayhave been prompted byacultureof surplus.
For whatever reasons, the field is burgeoning. A Psychinfo search using the
terms well-being and mental health brought forth 28,612 and 12,009 citations,
respectively, for the past 5 years. When the search was broadened to include terms
such as health, happiness, quality of life, and other related topics, the numbers
swelled even further. Clearly, this important area of psychology cannot be thor-
oughly reviewed in a short survey. Nonetheless, recent years have seen a crystal-
lization of themes within the field of well-being that both organize this voluminous
literature and provide directions for future research.
First and foremost, the field has witnessed the formation of two relatively
distinct, yet overlapping, perspectives and paradigms for empirical inquiry into
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HEDONIC AND EUDAIMONIC WELL-BEING 143
well-being that revolve around two distinct philosophies. The first of these can be
broadly labeled hedonism (Kahneman et al 1999) and reflects the view that well-
being consists of pleasure or happiness. The second view, both as ancient and as
current as the hedonic view, is that well-being consists of more than just happiness.
It lies instead in the actualization of human potentials. This view has been called
eudaimonism (Waterman 1993), conveying the belief that well-being consists of
fulfilling or realizing one’s daimon or true nature. The two traditions—hedonism
and eudaimonism—are founded on distinct views of human nature and of what
constitutes a good society. Accordingly, they ask different questions concerning
how developmental and social processes relate to well-being, and they implicitly
or explicitly prescribe different approaches to the enterprise of living. As we shall
see, the findings from the two intersect, but they also diverge at critical junctures.
Second, methodological and theoretical advances have enabled researchers to
ask more sophisticated questions about well-being. The advent of multilevel mod-
eling [e.g. hierarchial linear modeling (HLM)] has allowed researchers to go be-
yond the between-person or individual-difference focus that dominated the field.
Instead of merely asking why person A has higher well-being than person B, re-
searchers can now also examine the largely independent question of why person
A is better off today than he or she was yesterday (Gable & Reis 1999). Com-
plementing this advance, expansion of research methods to include ideographic
assessments of goals, values, and aspirations has allowed an examination of how
people’s experiences of well-being are shaped by attributes of their personal goals
andtheirmotivesforpursuing them(Emmons1986,Little1989, Sheldon&Kasser
1995). Similarly, new statistical methods for examining the cross-cultural equiv-
alence of psychological constructs (Little 1997) have allowed more exacting re-
search on the relation of culture to well-being. This is especially crucial because
formulations from evolutionary psychology have challenged the “standard social
science model” of humans as infinitely malleable (Tooby & Cosmides 1992), lend-
ing relevance to the search for the invariant as well as variant features of human
functioning. Together, such advances have made well-being research a field in
transition.
In this chapter, we begin by reviewing the two principal approaches to defining
well-being, namely, the hedonic and eudaimonic approaches, considering their
meta-theoretical, theoretical, and methodological aspects. We then proceed to a
topical review of the literature, taking note, when appropriate, of the relation of
the topics to the two general perspectives.
TWO TRADITIONS IN THE STUDY OF WELL-BEING
The Hedonic View
Equating well-being with hedonic pleasure or happiness has a long history.
Aristippus, a Greek philosopher from the fourth century B.C., taught that the
goal of life is to experience the maximum amount of pleasure, and that happiness
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is the totality of one’s hedonic moments. His early philosophical hedonism has
been followed by many others. Hobbes argued that happiness lies in the success-
ful pursuit of our human appetites, and DeSade believed that pursuit of sensation
and pleasure is the ultimate goal of life. Utilitarian philosophers such as Bentham
argued that it is through individuals’ attempting to maximize pleasure and self-
interest that the good society is built. Hedonism, as a view of well-being, has thus
been expressed in many forms and has varied from a relatively narrow focus on
bodily pleasures to a broad focus on appetites and self-interests.
Psychologists who have adopted the hedonic view have tended to focus on a
broad conception of hedonism that includes the preferences and pleasures of the
mind as well as the body (Kubovy 1999). Indeed, the predominant view among
hedonic psychologists is that well-being consists of subjective happiness and con-
cerns the experience of pleasure versus displeasure broadly construed to include
all judgments about the good/bad elements of life. Happiness is thus not reducible
to physical hedonism, for it can be derived from attainment of goals or valued
outcomes in varied realms (Diener et al 1998).
In a volume that announced “the existence of a new field of psychology,
Kahneman et al (1999) defined hedonic psychology as the study of “what makes
experiences and life pleasant and unpleasant” (p. ix). Its title, Well-being: The
Foundations of Hedonic Psychology, clearly suggests that, within this paradigm,
the terms well-being and hedonism are essentially equivalent. By defining well-
being in terms of pleasure versus pain, hedonic psychology poses for itself a clear
and unambiguous target of research and intervention, namely maximizing human
happiness. Accordingly, the volume is replete with evidence about how people
calculate utilities, maximize the density of reward, and optimize inputs associated
with pleasure versus displeasure.
Althoughtherearemanywaystoevaluatethepleasure/paincontinuuminhuman
experience,mostresearchwithinthenew hedonic psychology has used assessment
of subjective well-being (SWB) (Diener & Lucas 1999). SWB consists of three
components: life satisfaction, the presence of positive mood, and the absence of
negative mood, together often summarized as happiness.
Just as there have been philosophical arguments about equating hedonic plea-
sure with well-being, there has been considerable debate about the degreetowhich
measures of SWB adequately define psychological wellness (e.g. Ryff & Singer
1998).Accordingly,therearetwoimportantissuesconcerningthehedonicposition
in research onwell-being. One concernsthe validity of SWB and related measures
as operational definitions of (a) hedonism and/or (b) well-being. The other con-
cerns the types of social activities, goals, and attainments theorized to promote
well-being, however it is assessed. As such, there are three defensible positions
that could result from a consideration of these questions. First, one could accept
both the hedonic view and SWB as its indicator. Second, one could accept the use
of SWB as an operational definition of well-being but endorse a eudaimonic view
of what fosters SWB. And third, one could both reject the measure of SWB as
an indicator of well-being and argue against hedonic principles as the vehicle to
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HEDONIC AND EUDAIMONIC WELL-BEING 145
produce well-being. Regardless of what is said about this debate, SWB has reigned
as the primary index of well-being during the past decade and a half, and much of
the research reviewed herein employs SWB as a major outcome variable.
Although there are various theoretical perspectives associated with hedonic
psychology, some of its most prominent proponents have eschewed theory, ar-
guing for a bottom-up empirical approach. Specifically, some have argued that
we need to know more “elementary facts before a large theory is created” (Diener
etal 1998, p. 35). Nevertheless, one can characterizethe dominant work in hedonic
psychology in theoretical terms, evenif theyremain implicit. Overall, the theories,
whetherimplicit or explicit, tend to fit withinwhat Tooby & Cosmides (1992) refer
toasthestandardsocialsciencemodel,which is builtontheassumptionofanenor-
mous amount of malleability to human nature. With this meta-theoretical starting
point, much of the work fits with the expectancy-value approach (e.g. Oishi et al
1999),whichinitssimplestformsuggeststhatwell-beingisafunctionofexpecting
to attain (and ultimately attaining) the outcomes one values, whatever those might
be. The focus of hedonic psychology on pleasure versus pain also readily links it
with behavioral theories of reward and punishment (e.g. Shizgal 1999) and theo-
ries focused on cognitive expectations about such outcomes (e.g. Peterson 1999).
Furthermore, the claim of hedonic psychologists and expectancy-value theorists
that the goals through which well-being is enhanced can be highly idiosyncratic
and culturally specific would also seem to fit well within a relativistic, postmodern
view. Thus, although explicit theory is often not endorsed by hedonic researchers,
implicit theoretical themes are identifiable.
The Eudaimonic View
Despite the currency of the hedonic view, many philosophers, religious masters,
and visionaries, from both the East and West, have denigrated happiness per se
as a principal criterion of well-being. Aristotle, for example, considered hedonic
happiness to be a vulgar ideal, making humans slavish followers of desires. He
posited, instead, that true happiness is found in the expression of virtue—that is,
in doing what is worth doing. Fromm (1981), drawing on this Aristotelian view,
argued that optimal well-being (vivere bene) requires distinguishing
between those needs (desires) that are only subjectively felt and whose
satisfaction leads to momentary pleasure, and those needs that are rooted in
human nature and whose realization is conducive to human growth and
produces eudaimonia, i.e. “well-being.” In other words... the distinction
between purely subjectively felt needs and objectively valid needs—part of
the former being harmful to human growth and the latter being in
accordance with the requirements of human nature (p. xxvi).
The term eudaimonia is valuable because it refers to well-being as distinct
from happiness per se. Eudaimonic theories maintain that not all desires—not all
outcomesthatapersonmightvalue—would yield well-being whenachieved. Even
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though they are pleasure producing, some outcomes are not good for people and
would not promote wellness. Thus, from the eudaimonic perspective, subjective
happiness cannot be equated with well-being.
Waterman (1993) stated that, whereas happiness is hedonically defined, the eu-
daimonic conception of well-being calls upon people to live in accordance with
their daimon, or true self. He suggested that eudaimonia occurs when people’s life
activities are most congruent or meshing with deeply held values and are holisti-
callyor fully engaged. Under such circumstances people would feel intensely alive
and authentic, existing as who they really are—a state Waterman labeled personal
expressiveness (PE). Empirically, Waterman showed that measures of hedonic
enjoyment and PE were strongly correlated, but were nonetheless indicative of
distinct types of experience. For example, whereas both PE and hedonic measures
were associated with drive fulfillments, PE was more strongly related to activities
that afforded personal growth and development. Furthermore, PE was more asso-
ciated with being challenged and exerting effort, whereas hedonic enjoyment was
more related to being relaxed, away from problems, and happy.
Ryff & Singer (1998, 2000) have explored the question of well-being in the
context of developing a lifespan theory of human flourishing. Also drawing from
Aristotle, they describe well-being not simply as the attaining of pleasure, but as
“the striving for perfection that represents the realization of one’s true potential”
(Ryff 1995, p. 100). Ryff & Keyes (1995) thus spoke of psychological well-being
(PWB) as distinct from SWB and presented a multidimensional approach to the
measurement of PWB that taps six distinct aspects of human actualization: auton-
omy, personal growth, self-acceptance, life purpose, mastery, and positive relat-
edness. These six constructs define PWB both theoretically and operationally and
they specify what promotes emotional and physical health (Ryff & Singer 1998).
Theyhave presented evidence,for example, that eudaimonic living,as represented
by PWB, can influence specific physiological systems relating to immunological
functioning and health promotion.
In an engaging and instructive debate, Ryff & Singer (1998) challenged SWB
models of well-being as being of limited scope where positive functioning is
concerned, and specifically that SWB is often a fallible indicator of healthy living.
In turn, Diener et al (1998) retorted that Ryff & Singer’s eudaimonic criteria lets
experts define well-being, whereas SWB research allows people to tell researchers
what makes their life good. What is most clear from this clash of paradigms is that
these differing definitions of wellness have led to quite different types of inquiry
concerning the causes, consequences, and dynamics of well-being.
Self-determination theory (SDT) (Ryan & Deci 2000) is another perspective
that has both embraced the concept of eudaimonia, or self-realization, as a central
definitionalaspect of well-being and attempted to specify both whatit means to ac-
tualizetheselfandhowthatcanbeaccomplished.Specifically,SDTpositsthreeba-
sic psychological needs—autonomy, competence, and relatedness—and theorizes
that fulfillment of these needs is essential for psychological growth (e.g. intrinsic
motivation), integrity (e.g. internalization and assimilation of cultural practices),
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HEDONIC AND EUDAIMONIC WELL-BEING 147
andwell-being (e.g. life satisfactionandpsychological health), as wellas the expe-
riences of vitality (Ryan & Frederick 1997) and self-congruence (Sheldon & Elliot
1999).Needfulfillmentis thus viewedas a naturalaimofhumanlifethat delineates
manyofthemeaningsandpurposesunderlyinghumanactions(Deci&Ryan2000).
Specification of basic needs defines not only the minimum requirements of
psychologicalhealthbutalsodelineatesprescriptivelythenutrimentsthatthesocial
environmentmustsupplyforpeopletothriveandgrowpsychologically. Thus,SDT
describes the conditions that facilitate versus undermine well-being within varied
developmental periods and specific social contexts such as schools, workplaces,
and friendships. SDT does not, however, suggest that the basic needs are equally
valuedin all families,social groups, or cultures, but it does maintain that thwarting
of these needs will result in negative psychological consequences in all social
or cultural contexts. As such, contextual and cultural, as well as developmental,
factors continually influence the modes of expression, the means of satisfaction,
and the ambient supports for these needs, and it is because of their effects on need
satisfaction that they, in turn, influence growth, integrity, and well-being at both
between-person and within-person levels of analysis.
SDThasbothimportantsimilaritiesanddifferenceswithRyff&Singer’s(1998)
eudaimonic approach. We wholly concur that well-being consists in what Rogers
(1963)referredtoasbeingfullyfunctioning,ratherthanassimplyattainingdesires.
We also are largely in agreement concerning the content of being eudaimonic—
e.g. being autonomous, competent, and related. However, our approach theorizes
that these contents are the principal factors that foster well-being, whereas Ryff
and Singer’s approach uses them to define well-being.
SDT posits that satisfaction of the basic psychological needs typically fosters
SWB as well as eudaimonic well-being. This results from our belief that being
satisfied with one’s life and feeling both relatively more positive affect and less
negativeaffect(thetypicalmeasuresof SWB) do frequently pointto psychological
wellness, for, as Rogers (1963) suggested, emotional states are indicativeoforgan-
ismic valuation processes. That is, the assessment of positive and negative affect
is useful insofar as emotions are, in part, appraisals of the relevance and valence of
eventsandconditionsoflifewithrespecttotheself.Thus,inSDTresearch,wehave
typically used SWB as one of several indicators of well-being. However, we have
at the same time maintained that there are different types of positive experience
and that some conditions that foster SWB do not promote eudaimonic well-being.
For example, research by Nix et al (1999) showed that succeeding at an activity
while feeling pressured to do so resulted in happiness (a positive affect closely
linked to SWB), but it did not result in vitality (a positive affect more closely
aligned with eudaimonic well-being). On the other hand, as predicted by SDT,
succeeding at an activity while feeling autonomous resulted in both happiness and
vitality. Thus, because conditions that promote SWB may not necessarily yield
eudaimonic well-being, SDT research has typically supplemented SWB measures
with assessments of self-actualization, vitality, and mental health in an effort to
assess well-being conceived of as healthy, congruent, and vital functioning.
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Applying the Two Viewpoints
The debate between hedonic and eudaimonic theorists is, as we have said, both
ancient and contemporary and has often been quite heated. It will not be resolved
herein.Rather, we have highlighted thesetwopositionsbecause of their theoretical
and practical importance and because these approaches have generated distinct,
but interfacing, research literatures in topical areas that we review.
Evidence from a number of investigators has indicated that well-being is prob-
ably best conceived as a multidimensional phenomenon that includes aspects of
both the hedonic and eudaimonic conceptions of well-being. For example, Comp-
ton et al (1996) investigated the relation among 18 indicators of well-being and
mental health, identifying two factors, one that seemed to reflect SWB and the
other, personal growth. These two factors were themselves moderately correlated.
The results of this study thus suggested that the hedonic and eudaimonic foci are
both overlapping and distinct and that an understanding of well-being may be
enhanced by measuring it in differentiated ways. King & Napa (1998) asked lay
people to rate features of the good life and found that both happiness and mean-
ing were implicated. McGregor & Little (1998) analyzed a diverse set of mental
health indicators and also found two factors, one reflecting happiness and the
other, meaningfulness. These researchers showed that, when pursuing personal
goals, doing well and feeling happy may be disconnected from finding mean-
ing and acting with integrity. Thus, in spite of the significant overlap, the most
interesting results may be those that highlight the factors leading to divergence
rather than just convergence in the hedonic and eudaimonic indicators of well-
being.
RESEARCH TOPICS IN THE PSYCHOLOGY
OF WELL-BEING
In what follows we briefly survey a number of research topics concerning well-
being, focusing especially on those with a lively presence in contemporary re-
search. The topics are quite diverse. Some grapple with the psychological meaning
of well-being. For example, to what extent is well-being an individual difference?
What is the role of emotions in well-being? and To what extent is physical health
intertwined with well-being? Other topics search for antecedents of well-being
at the between-person and within-person levels. Such factors as wealth, satis-
fying relationships, and goal attainment have been addressed. Still other topics
concern whether well-being is different across time or place, for example, in dif-
ferent developmental periods and in different cultures. As we shall see, in many
of these topical areas researchers with hedonic versus eudaimonic interests have
tended to ask different kinds of questions and approach the answers by different
routes.
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Personality, Individual Differences, and Well-Being
Two closely related and frequently asked question are, What type of people are
likely to be well or happy? and Are there people who can be characterized as being
happy or well? In other words, are there personality factors that consistently relate
to well-being, and can well-being itself be thought of as a personality variable?
These questions have been actively researched with regard to SWB. DeNeve
(1999) suggested that SWB is determined toa substantial degree by genetic factors
and argued that SWB is relatively stable across the life span. In fact, DeNeve &
Cooper (1998) did a meta-analysis involving 197 samples with more than 40,000
adults, in which SWB was a criterion variable related to various personality traits.
Many personality traits were significantly associated with SWB, suggesting a cor-
respondencebetweenchronicpersonalitystylesandindividualdifferencesinSWB.
Forinstance,ofthe “big five” traits (Costa & McCrae1992), DeNeve &Cooper re-
ported that extraversion and agreeableness were consistently positively associated
with SWB, whereas neuroticism was consistently negatively associated with it.
Diener & Lucas (1999) suggested that these big five findings should come as no
surprise because extraversion is characterized by positive affect and neuroticism
is virtually defined by negative affect. For instance, they cited evidence that, con-
trolling for measurement error, the correlation between extraversion and positive
mood was 0.80, and that neuroticism and trait negative affect were indistinguish-
able. That is, thenegative relation between SWB and neuroticism, which concerns
the tendency to experience negative affect, is somewhat tautological. In line with
Seidlitz (1993), Diener & Lucas further suggest that conscientiousness, agreeable-
ness, and openness to experience are less strongly and consistently linked to SWB
because these traits have their sources in “rewards in the environment” (p. 320). In
other words, as individual differences, these three are more a function of environ-
mental influences, whereas extraversion and neuroticism may be more a function
of genetic factors.
Because of the trait-like features of SWB, some studies have focused on con-
trasts between chronically happy and unhappy people. Lyubomirsky & Tucker
(1998), for example, demonstrated that characteristically happy people tend to
construe the samelife events and encounters more favorably than unhappy people.
Further, Lyubomirsky& Ross (1999) showed that individualshigh, relative to low,
in SWB tended to cast events and situations in a more positive light, to be less
responsive to negative feedback, and to more strongly denigrate opportunities that
are not available to them. Thus, people high in SWB may have attributional styles
that are more self-enhancing and, perhaps, more enabling, which in turn could
contribute to the relative stability of their happiness.
Ryff and colleagues have examined the relation of the big five traits to their
multiple dimensions of psychological well-being. Schmutte & Ryff (1997) found
that extraversion, conscientiousness, and low neuroticism were linked with the
eudaimonic dimensions of self-acceptance, mastery, and life purpose; openness to
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experience was linked to personal growth; agreeableness and extraversion were
linked to positive relationships; and low neuroticism was linked to autonomy.
Sheldonetal(1997)examinedrelationsbetweenthebigfiveandwell-being,but
theseresearchersexploredwhetherthe degreeofvariabilityin a person’s ratings on
each trait across life roles (e.g. student, child, friend, etc), rather than the person’s
characteristic level on each trait, would relate to well-being, regardless of the
specific trait being considered. In line with work by Roberts & Donahue (1994),
Sheldon et al showed that greater variability in individuals’ endorsements of traits
across roles was associated with lowergeneral well-being. Further, as predicted by
SDT,Sheldonetalpostulatedandfoundthatpeopleweremostlikelytodepartfrom
their general trait characteristics in life roles in which they were least authentic,
that is, where they felt least able to express their true self. In a similar vein, AW
Paradise & MH Kernis (unpublished manuscript) found that greater variability in
self-esteem scores over time, even among people whose average self-esteem was
high,wasassociated withpoorerwell-beingassessedwith Ryffs(1989a)measure.
Emotions and Well-Being
The relation of emotions to well-being, like that of traits to well-being, deals
to some extent with the meaning of well-being itself. As such, the hedonic and
eudaimonic perspectives have quite different views and have engaged in diverse
types of research.
ResearchonemotionsandSWBhasfoundthat:(a)peopleongoinglyexperience
affect;(b) affect is valenced and easily judged as positive or negative; and (c) most
people report having positiveaffect most of the time (Diener & Lucas 2000). Thus,
because havingmore positive emotion and less negative emotion is SWB, the stud-
ies imply that people, in general, have fairly high SWB. Some researchers have
focused on how to maintain positive affect and ameliorate negative affect,and oth-
ers have focused on daily fluctuations in affect and on how ongoing experiences
of affect relate to global SWB. Considerable research has addressed how people
estimate mood over time, including the weight they give to various events (Kah-
neman 1999), as well as how response styles and the order of questions can affect
global estimates (Schwarz & Strack 1991). Forexample, Diener et al (1991) found
global judgments of subjective well-being to be based more in the frequency than
intensity of positive experiences. In fact, it seems that intense positive emotions
are often attended by increased unpleasant affect (Larsen & Diener 1987).
There is some indication that SWB is affected by positive and negative life
events (Headey & Wearing 1989), but Suh et al (1996) found that the impact of
events on SWB was brief. Further, because SWB is to some extent traitlike and
people high, relative to low, in SWB are likely to construe the same event more
positively, it is still unclear how much effect actual life events have on well-being.
The eudaimonic position, in contrast to the hedonic view, suggests that the im-
portant issue concerning emotions is not feeling positive per se (see Parrott 1993),
but rather is the extent to which a person is fully functioning (Rogers 1963). Thus,
under some conditions (e.g. the death of a lovedone)aperson would be considered
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to be more fully functioning, and, ultimately, to have greater well-being, if he or
she experienced rather than avoided the negative feeling of sadness. From a eudai-
monic view, such issues as the repression, disclosure, compartmentalization, and
overcontrol versus undercontrol of emotions are highly pertinent to what defines
wellness. For instance, work reviewed by King & Pennebaker (1998) suggests that
suppressingorwithholdingemotionshasclearcostsforpsychologicalandphysical
health, and DeNeve & Cooper (1998) found that people high in repressive tenden-
cies tend to have lower SWB. Conversely, there seem to be well-being benefits to
emotional disclosure (Butzel & Ryan 1997). Such findings fit the claims of eudai-
monictheoriststhatemotionalaccessandcongruenceareimportantforwell-being.
Another line of eudaimonic research on emotions suggests that, because emo-
tional positivity is not part of the definition of well-being, affect can be studied
as an outcome of eudaimonic processes. Thus, although more positive affect is
not considered an end in itself, it would be expected, under many circumstances,
to be a byproduct of eudaimonic living. Ryff & Singer (1998), for example, re-
ported moderate correlations between their eudaimonic assessment of well-being
and SWB. They emphasize some dimensions over others in these relations—in
particular, positive relations were found to be particularly strongly related to pos-
itive emotional experiences. More generally, these researchers viewed emotions
as a catalyst to health states, and they focused on the capacity of deep emotional
experience to mobilize antistress and disease resistant functions.
A final strand of research on emotions using a eudaimonic perspective has ex-
amined psychological conditions that promote positive emotions, including hap-
piness and vitality. This work, which has been done at both the between-persons
and within-person levels, has considered the relation of basic need satisfaction to
these emotional indices of well-being. In one study, Sheldon et al (1996) examined
dailyfluctuations in satisfaction of autonomy and competence over2weeks. Using
HLM, they found that at the between-persons level feelings of autonomy and com-
petence predicted happiness and vitality, but also that at the within-person level
fluctuations in experiences of fulfillment of the two needs significantly predicted
fluctuations in the affects. Subsequently, Reis et al (2000) showed that within-
person fluctuations in all three of SDT’s basic needs predicted the positive affects.
Specifically, daily experiences of autonomy, competence, and relatedness each
contributed unique variance to the prediction of happiness and vitality.
Physical Health and Its Relations to Well-Being
That there ought to be an association between health status and well-being seems
intuitively clear. Sickness is often associated with displeasure or pain, so the pres-
enceofillnessmightdirectlyincreasenegativeaffect.Further,illnessoftenpresents
functional limitations, which can detract from opportunities for positive affect and
life satisfaction.
Empiricalresultshavesupported thesespeculations.Specifically,anearlymeta-
analysis by Okun et al (1984) relating self-reported physical health to SWB found
an average correlation of 0.32. However, the relation seems to be more complex
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than one might expect. Some people with objectively poor health have high SWB,
whereas, conversely, some people with low well-being have no signs of somatic
illness. Befitting these observations, Okun et al found that when health was rated
by others (e.g. doctors) the correlation dropped noticeably to 0.16. This suggests
that the meaning and construal of health states may be a major factor in SWB.
SWB is, after all, subjective, so one would expect it to be affected by personality
and by interpretive and reporting styles.
Ryan & Frederick (1997) assessed subjective vitality, a positive and phe-
nomenologically accessible state of having energy available to the self, and used
it as an indicator of eudaimonic well-being. They found that subjective vitality not
only correlated with psychological factors such as personal autonomy and relat-
edness, but that it also covaried with physical symptoms. That is, more physical
symptomsinadaypredicteddecreasedenergyandalivenessforthatday,asdidpoor
healthhabitssuchassmokingandfattydiets.Theyarguedthatvitalityis aphenom-
enally salient variable that is affected by both somatic and psychological factors.
Ryff&Singer(2000) usedbothempirical andcasestudy evidencetounderscore
how various dimensions of eudaimonic living yield salubrious effects on health
moregenerally,includinglowerallostaticloadandbetter autoimmunefunctioning.
Their work indicated that the PWB dimension of positive relationships with others
was particularly critical to the promotion of health-related processes.
RESEARCH ON ANTECEDENTS OF WELL-BEING
Considerableresearchhasexaminedantecedent conditions likelytofacilitatewell-
being. We review some of that work, organized in terms of wealth, relationships,
and goal pursuits. Because the literature is voluminous, the review is necessarily,
and perhaps arbitrarily, selective.
Social Class and Wealth as Predictors of Well-Being
A question of widespread interest among researchers and laypeople alike concerns
therelationofwealthtohappinessandwell-being.Relationsofbothattainedwealth
and wealth-related goals and aspirations have been addressed from both hedonic
and eudaimonic perspectives.
Does money make people happy? Long traditions in folklore and lay wisdom
suggest answers in both directions. From the view of hedonic psychology, which
has no a priori basis for speculating on this matter, the question is empirical, and
thus far the answer has been mixed.
In a recent review, E Diener & R Biswas-Diener (unpublished) summarized
research on wealth and SWB as follows: (a) people in richer nations are happier
than people in poorer nations; (b) increases in national wealth within developed
nations have not, over recent decades, been associated with increases in SWB;
(c) within-nation differences in wealth show only small positive correlations with
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happiness;(d)increasesinpersonalwealthdonottypicallyresultinincreasedhap-
piness; and (e) people who strongly desire wealth and money are more unhappy
than those who do not. Although they reviewed different theoretical accounts of
these findings, they concluded that there remain too many unknowns to supply an
integratedmodel. However, theystated that avoiding poverty, living in a rich coun-
try, and focusing on goals other than material wealth are associated with attaining
happiness.
Diener & Diener (1995) examined the strength of the relations between sat-
isfaction with specific domains (family, friends, finances) and life satisfaction in
collegestudentsfrom31 nations. They found that, among thedifferentialrelations,
financial status was more correlated with life satisfaction in poorer nations than
wealthier nations.
Why might wealth be more important for increasing life satisfaction among
people in poorer nations? Although there is not yet a clear answer, one key issue
concerns the functional freedoms that accompany national wealth for all cultural
members. A poor infrastructure within a nation constrains opportunities for sta-
ble relationships, personal expressiveness, and productivity. Thus, not only can
national poverty interfere with satisfaction of physical needs, such as food and
shelter, but it can also block access to exercising competencies, pursuing interests,
and maintaining relationships, which would provide psychological need satisfac-
tion. Thus, within poorer nations, the value of money for satisfying needs may be
more critical than it is within a nation where most citizens have access to some
basic resources for pursuing their goals.
Although the hedonic viewpoint would have little reason to view money as a
problematic goal, a long tradition of eudaimonic and organismic theorists have
questioned wealth and materialism as life goals. Drawing from the eudaimonic
viewandfromSDT, Kasser&Ryan(1993,1996)relatedmoneyandmaterialismto
well-being. They predicted that people who place a strong value on wealth relative
to goals such as close relationships, personal growth, and community generativity,
which are more closely related to basic psychological need fulfillment, should
show lower well-being. From a eudaimonic view, placing too much priority on
material goods (as well as goals such as fame and image), which in themselves do
not satisfy basic psychological needs, can at best only partially satisfy the needs,
and at worst can distract from foci that would yield need fulfillment. Further,
because achieving money, fame, and image is often contingent on engaging in
nonautonomous activities, emphasizing such goals may detract from a sense of
authenticity and result in lower well-being. Beyond the relations of relative values
to well-being, thisviewfurther suggests that once a person is beyond poverty level
(and thus has sustenance and security) the attainment of more wealth should add
little to well-being, whereas attaining fulfillment of goals more deeply connected
with the basic psychological needs should directly enhance well-being.
Several studies havesupported this overallmodel,showing that the more people
focusonfinancialandmaterialisticgoals,thelowertheirwell-being.Thisresulthas
beenconfirmedbothin developedcountries suchastheUnitedStatesand Germany
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(Kasser & Ryan 1996, Schmuck et al 2000) and in less economically developed
nations such as Russia and India (e.g. Ryan et al 1999). Furthermore, both cross
sectional (Ryan etal 1999) andlongitudinal (Sheldon &Kasser 1998) studiessug-
gest that, whereas progress toward intrinsic goals enhances well-being, progress
toward extrinsic goals such as money either does not enhance well-being or
does so to a lesser extent. Finally, as Carver & Baird (1998) found, the rela-
tion between money and well-being is in part a function of the loss of autonomy
associated with this life goal.
Ryff et al (1999) examined the impact of impoverishment on eudaimonic out-
comes. Using the PWB measure, theyfoundthat socio-economic status was linked
to the dimensions of self-acceptance, purpose, mastery, and growth. Many of the
negative effects of lower socio-economic status on these dimensions appeared to
result from social comparison processes, in which poorer individuals compared
themselves unfavorably with others and felt unable to gain resources that could
adjust perceived inequalities.
In sum, work in both the hedonic and eudaimonic traditions converges on the
point that money does not appear to be a reliable route to either happiness or well-
being. The relation of wealth to well-being is at best a low positive one, although
it is clear that material supports can enhance access to resources that are important
forhappinessandself-realization.Thereappeartobemany risks to povertybut few
benefits to wealth when it comes to well-being. Furthermore, studies show speci-
fiable eudaimonic hazards for those who overly value wealth and material goods.
Attachment, Relatedness, and Well-Being
There has been increasing appreciation within psychology of the fundamental
importance of warm, trusting, and supportive interpersonal relationships for well-
being. So important is relatedness that some theorists have defined relatedness as
a basic human need that is essential for well-being (Baumeister & Leary 1995,
Deci & Ryan 1991), and others have suggested that having stable, satisfying rela-
tionships is a general resilience factor across the lifespan (Mikulincer & Florian
1998). Insofar as there is validityto this view, one would expect a strong, universal
association between the quality of relationships and well-being outcomes.
Evidence supporting the link of relatedness to SWB is manifold. Studies sug-
gest that, of all factors that influence happiness, relatedness is at or very near the
top of the list (Argyle 1987, Myers 1999). Furthermore, as DeNeve (1999) noted,
affiliation and relationship-enhancing traits are among the most strongly related
with SWB. Furthermore, loneliness is consistently negatively related to positive
affect and life satisfaction (Lee & Ishii-Kuntz 1987). Still, the topic of relation-
ships is complex, and even close relationships are multifaceted, so specificity
is warranted concerning what aspects of relationships engender wellness. Two
concepts–attachment and intimacy–are especially relevant (Reis & Patrick 1996).
The construct of attachment derives from the work of Bowlby (1969), who
argued that early relationships with caregivers can be characterized in terms of
differing degrees of felt security and support. Attachment studies were initially
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done with relationships during infancy (Ainsworth et al 1978) and more recently
during adolescence and adulthood (Hazan & Shaver 1987). The main idea is that
individuals have a predominant working model that varies in the degree to which
it represents secure versus insecure attachment to others. Many studies have con-
firmed a relation between attachment security and well-being broadly construed,
andsometheoristshave arguedthatsecureattachmentsthemselvesare an indicator
of well-being (e.g. Simpson 1990).
Althoughsecurityof attachmenthastypicallybeenviewedasa stableindividual
difference, recent work suggests that there is considerable within-person variation
in attachment security with different relational partners. Baldwin et al (1996)
showed descriptively that most people exhibit different attachment styles with
different figures in their lives. La Guardia et al (2000) found that this within-
person variability in security of attachment was predicted by the degree to which
an individual experiences need satisfaction with particular partners; those with
whom one experiences security are those who facilitate feelings of autonomy,
competence,andrelatedness.Theresearchersfurthershowedthat,toaconsiderable
degree, the positive effects of attachment security on well-being were mediated
by need satisfaction. Thus, it appears that secure attachments foster well-being
in large part because they represent relationships within which a person satisfies
needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Research on intimacy also highlights the importance of relatedness for well-
being and underscores that it is the quality of relatedness which engenders well-
being. For example, Nezlek (2000) reviewed a number of studies showing that,
whereas quantity of interactions does not predict well-being, quality of related-
ness does. Carstensen’s (1998) Social Selectivity Theory, as well as work in SDT
(e.g. V. Kasser & Ryan 1999) points to the same conclusion.
This work on the quality of relationships examining between-person relations
has found that individuals who in general have more intimate or higher-quality
relationships tend to demonstrate greater well-being. Work by Reis et al (2000)
showed further that within-person, day-to-day variations in feelings of relatedness
over a two-weekperiodpredicteddailyindicators of well-being, including positive
affectand vitality. Data were also gathered concerning the type of interactions that
fostered relatedness and, in turn, well-being. In support of both intimacy theory
and SDT, it was found that people experienced greater relatedness when they felt
understood, engaged in meaningful dialog, or had fun with others.
Recall that, in the work of Ryff and colleagues, positive relations with others is
a dimension of well-being. Thus, whereas much of the work reviewed herein treats
relationships as a source of well-being, Ryff & Singer (2000) treat it as a defining
element of PWB, viewing positive relations with others as an essential element in
human flourishing. In relating this variable to others, Ryff et al (2001) reviewed
evidence that positive relations predicted physiological functioning and health
outcomes, including the secretion of oxytocin, which is associated with positive
mood and stress relief. Their view is also supported by Uchino et al (1999), who
showed that social support influences mortality via changes in cardiovascular,
endocrine, and autoimmune systems.
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Goal Pursuit and Well-Being: The Ups and Downs of Trying
Another active area of research has been the relations of goals and goal progress to
well-being. It fits with many theories in psychology that feelings of competence or
efficacy with regard to life goals should be associated with greater positive affect
and well-being. More controversial is the issue of whether goal pursuits must be
autonomous or integrated to the self in order to yield greater wellness. Whereas
hedonic theory has typically adhered to an expectancy value model where auton-
omy has had no role, issues related to the autonomy, authenticity, and congruence
of goal pursuits have been a concern of eudaimonic researchers.
PerceivedCompetenceandSelf-Efficacy Alargebodyofresearch pointsclearly
to the fact that feeling competent and confident with respect to valued goals is as-
sociated with enhanced well-being (Carver & Scheier 1999, McGregor & Little
1998). Furthermore, it is clear that goal progress, on average, predicts enhanced
well-being, particularly goals that are rated as important (e.g. Brunstein 1993).
However, these general findings can be unpacked into various processes that con-
tribute to the relation.
One issue concerns the level of challenge posed by one’s goals. When life goals
are nonoptimally challenging—either too easy or too difficult—positive affect is
lower (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi 1988). Low expectations of success
have also been associated with high negative affect (Emmons 1986), and as noted,
Waterman (1993) found an association between eudaimonic outcomes (PE) and
growth-related, effortful challenge.
Another concern is whether one’s goal activities are characterized by approach
oravoidancemotivationalsystems.Elliot&Sheldon(1997),forexample,classified
goalsas approach or avoidanceandthenexaminedtheeffectsofgoalprogressover
a short-term period. Pursuit of avoidance goals was associated with both poorer
goal progress and with lower well-being. Elliot et al (1997) similarly showed that
people whose personal goals contained a higherproportion of avoidancehadlower
SWB. They also demonstrated the association between neuroticism and avoidance
goals, but showed that the impact of avoidance regulation was evident even when
controlling for neuroticism. Carver & Scheier (1999) also presented research link-
ing approach goals (positively) and avoidance goals (negatively) to well-being
outcomes.
Otherworkpointstotheimportanceofgoalsandmotivesbeingalignedforwell-
being effectsto accrue. For example, Brunstein et al (1998) found that motive-goal
congruence accounted for the effects of goal progress on SWB. Furthermore, they
showedthatcommitmenttomotive-incongruentgoalscanevenresultinwell-being
declines. Such evidence suggests that how goals are anchored within the self bears
on their influence on well-being.
Autonomy and Integration ofGoals Anotheractively researched issue concerns
how autonomous one is in pursuing goals. SDT in particular has taken a strong
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stand on this by proposing that only self-endorsed goals will enhance well-being,
so pursuit of heteronomous goals, even when done efficaciously, will not. The
relative autonomy of personal goals has, accordingly, been shown repeatedly to be
predictive of well-being outcomes controlling for goal efficacy at both between-
person and within-person levels of analysis (Ryan & Deci 2000). Interestingly
this pattern of findings has been supported in cross-cultural research, suggesting
that the relative autonomy of one’s pursuits matters whether one is collectivistic
or individualistic, male or female (e.g. V Chirkov & RM Ryan 2001; Hayamizu
1997, Vallerand 1997).
Sheldon & Elliot (1999) developeda self-concordance model of how autonomy
relates to well-being. Self-concordant goals are those that fulfill basic needs and
are aligned with one’s true self. These goals are well-internalized and therefore
autonomous, and they emanate from intrinsic or identified motivations. Goals that
are not self-concordant encompass external or introjected motivation, and are ei-
ther unrelated or indirectly related to need fulfillment. Sheldon & Elliot found
that, although goal attainment in itself was associated with greater well-being, this
effect was significantly weaker when the attained goals were not self-concordant.
People who attained more self-concordant goals had more need-satisfying experi-
ences, and this greater need satisfaction was predictive of greater SWB. Similarly,
Sheldon & Kasser (1998) studied progress toward goals in a longitudinal design,
finding that goal progress was associated with enhanced SWB and lower symp-
toms of depression. However, the impact of goal progress was again moderated by
goal concordance. Goals that were poorly integrated to the self, whose focus was
not related to basic psychological needs, conveyed less SWB benefits, even when
achieved.
Finally, the previously mentioned Nix et al (1999) study showed that whereas
successful goal pursuits led to happiness, it was only when the pursuits were
autonomous that success yielded vitality. McGregor & Little (1998) suggested
that the meaningfulness of goals is a separate issue from that of goal efficacy, and
in a study of personal projects they found that, whereas perceived efficacy was
linked to happiness, the relative integrity of goals was linked to meaningfulness.
From the perspective of SDT, psychological well-being results in large part
from satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence,
and relatedness, so it makes sense that autonomy as well as efficacy would be
important for eudaimonic well-being, just as relatedness or attachment contribute
considerably to well-being (Reis et al 2000).
RESEARCH ON DIFFERENCES IN WELL-BEING ACROSS
TIME AND PLACE
Lifespan Perspectives on Well-Being
The past decade has witnessed tremendous advances in lifespan psychology,
and some of the most intriguing findings concern well-being. Indeed, seemingly
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anomalous findings in lifespan studies have generated many new understand-
ings of the dynamics of well-being. Perhaps the most salient of these is the so-
called paradox of aging. It has been found that in old age not only does subjective
well-being not decline, but it typically increases, despite evidence that with age
comes many challenges and losses (Carstensen 1998, Mroczek & Kolarz 1998).
Thus, lifespan studies offer a window into the dynamics of SWB and eudaimonic
well-being, as resources, capacities, and support systems change systematically
with age.
Because Ryff defines well-being in a multidimensional way, her work espe-
cially lends itself to the descriptive study of lifespan changes in well-being. She
and coworkers haveinvestigated,first, whether people’s conceptions of well-being
change with age and, second, whether different components of well-being vary
with age. The answer to both questions is yes. Regarding people’s conceptions of
well-being, Ryff (1989b) found that, although diverse age groups endorse good
relationships and the pursuit of enjoyable activities as important for well-being,
there were age differences on other dimensions, with younger adults focused more
on self-knowledge, competence, and self-acceptance, and older adults focused
more on positive coping with change. These findings accord well with those
of Carstensen (1998), who suggested that the functions of relationships change
with age. Younger adults are more interested in novelty, knowledge, and expe-
rience expansion, and older adults are more interested in depth and poignancy.
With regard to variation in the components of well-being, Ryff (1991) com-
pared groups of young, middle-aged, and older adults, identifying age trends
on a number of dimensions. Older adults experienced less personal growth than
younger groups; middle-aged adults experienced more autonomy than younger or
older groups; and middle and older groups experienced more mastery than the
younger group. There were no age trends for positive relations with others or for
self-acceptance.
Ryan&LaGuardia(2000)discussedtherelationsofneedfulfillmenttomotiva-
tionandwell-beingacrossthelifespan.Theyreviewedevidenceforthecriticalrole
of relatedness, competence, and autonomy in fostering well-being at all ages, sug-
gesting that basic psychological needs influence well-being across life. However,
the manner in which these needs are expressed and satisfied varies with age and
with the life tasks, challenges, and affordances that change with age. They focused
particularly on the role of age-related social contexts such as school and work
in affecting well-being and on the adequacy of cultural scaffolds in supporting
eudaimonia.
Work on SWB and aging also reveals that earlier theories of declines in well-
being were not accurate. Diener & Lucas (2000) pointed out that pleasant affect
tends to decline with age, but life satisfaction and negative affect do not change
withage.Theysaidthatmanymeasuresofpositiveaffect focus on aroused, excited
statesandthisfocusmay account for the observeddecline,whereasmeasuresmore
focused on less activated states might not indicate a decline.
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Cultural Influences: Universality versus Relativism
and Well-Being
At the outset of this review we commented that the definition of well-being is
controversial and unresolved. The meaning of well-being and the factors that
facilitate it are particularly at issue in cross-cultural studies in which a principal
quest is the search for systematic variantsversusinvariantsinwell-beingdynamics
across widely discrepant social arrangements. Christopher (1999) instructively
argued that definitions of well-being are inherently culturally rooted and further,
thatthere can be no such thing as a value-free assessmentof well-being. According
to Christopher, all understandings of well-being are essentially moral visions,
based on individuals’ judgments about what it means to be well.
Because the very definition of well-being raises cultural questions about the
meaning and equivalence of constructs, quantitatively oriented researchers have
often been bereft of answers to criticisms of cultural bias. Although such concerns
should continue, at least some strategies haveemergedthatallowstatistical assess-
ments of the cultural equivalence of psychological constructs. Illustrative is the
meansandcovariancestructureanalyses,whichassessthedegreetowhichthepsy-
chometricpropertiesofaconstructcanbecomparablymodeledacross diversepop-
ulations (Little 1997). Cross-cultural researchers in this area will need to employ
such methods as a requisite for interpretive confidence in their findings. However,
because of the newness of these techniques, few studies have employed them.
Diener and colleagues have reported a number of cross-cultural factors associ-
ated with SWB. Their analyses haveincluded both mean leveldifferences between
nationson SWB and differentialcorrelates of well-being across nations. Forexam-
ple, Diener & Diener (1995) found that across nations, self-esteem was associated
with well-being, but that relation was stronger in countries characterized by indi-
vidualism. The strength of association of SWB to satisfaction with wealth, friends,
and family also varied by nation.
Suh et al (1998) studied the relations of emotions and norms (social approval)
tolife satisfaction in 61 nations. Theyfoundthatwhereas emotions were a stronger
predictor of life satisfaction in nations classified as individualist, norms and emo-
tions were equally predictive within collectivist nations. Oishi et al (1999) tested
hypotheses based on Maslow’s (1971) need theory and their own expectancy va-
lence position, finding some support for each. They found that in poorer nations
satisfaction with wealth was a stronger predictor of life satisfaction, whereas sat-
isfaction with home life was more predictive in wealthier nations, suggesting to
thema hierarchy of needs. They also found evidence thatsatisfactionwithfreedom
was less predictive of SWB in collectivistic nations than in individualistic ones.
They used this finding to dispute SDT’s claims about the importance of volition to
well-being,although their discussion reveals misconceptions about the meaning of
autonomy and about SDT’s position on needs. Still, the findings reveal that deeply
held values play a role in well-being, a position with which SDT concurs.
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A major conceptual issue in research on autonomy and well-being concerns
the constant confusion in the literature between independence (nonreliance) and
autonomy (volition). Cross-cultural psychologists such as Markus et al (1996)
equate autonomy with independence in their conceptions of East-West differences
and thus do not examine the separate effects of these dimensions. Diener & Lucas
(2000) similarly cast autonomy as something one has “from” other people, indi-
cating their definition of autonomy as separateness or independence rather than
self-endorsement or volition. This melding of constructs persists despite research
showing that, if anything, trusting interdependencies support the development of
more autonomous regulation (e.g. Ryan & Lynch 1989). From an SDT perspec-
tive, cultural styles associated with independence should, of course, detract from
relatednesssatisfactionandwell-being,butthisisaseparateissuefromtherelation
to well-being of the relative autonomy of one’s goals, life tasks, and values.
Indeed, evidence of the importance of autonomy is evident even in collectivist
nations. Studies in Japan reveal that SDT-based assessments of autonomy predict
the motivation and adjustment of students (e.g. Hayamizu 1997). Deci et al (2001)
examined the relation of well-being to the satisfaction of autonomy, competence,
and relatedness needs both in Bulgarian workers in state-owned, collectivistically
managed companies and in a sample of US workers. They found thatthe measures
of need satisfaction stood up to stringent cross-cultural meaning-equivalence cri-
teria, suggesting the generalizability of these constructs; they found further that
satisfaction of these needs in the workplace significantly predicted the workers’
general well-being in each country, despite the highly differing cultural contexts.
Evenmoreintriguing,meanlevelsofautonomyatworkwerehigherinBulgaria,for
reasons made clear by ethnographic observations. Ryan et al (1999) studied goals
inRussianandUScollegestudentsandfoundsupportforthemodelthatlowerwell-
being is predicted by overvaluing of extrinsic goals. Furthermore, Chirkov&Ryan
(2001), also using means and covariance structure analyses, showed that Russian
adolescents predictably viewed their parents and teachers as less autonomy sup-
portive than did their US counterparts; however, despite its cultural normativeness,
less perceived autonomy support was associated with lower well-being, including
SWB, in Russia, as well as in the United States.
Sen (1999), a Nobel laureate in economics, has gone so far as to argue that
freedom is a more rational goal for national development than is gross national
product per se. His analysis shows that in cultures where relative freedoms have
been expanded, both quality of life and economic growth are enhanced. Similarly,
Frey & Stutzer (1999) showed on a large sample of Swiss citizens that, whereas
economic wealth was poorly predictive of well-being, citizens who were active in
their democratic participationexperienced higher well-being. Thus, without deny-
ing either cultural variation in values or the importance of values in giving goals
their potency, we maintain that the positions that fail to recognize the importance
of autonomy for well-being may be inadvertently condoning the denial of human
freedom to a significant portion of the inhabitants of the globe. Surely, this issue
will receive further study.
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SUMMARY
Cowen(1991)suggested that wellness should be defined not simply as the absence
of psychopathology, but instead as an array of positive aspects of functioning that
are promoted by attainment of strong attachment relationships, acquisition of age-
appropriate cognitive, interpersonal, and coping skills, and exposure to environ-
mentsthatempowerthe person.Thissurvey of recent work on well-being indicates
clearlythat study of the meaning of well-being, the conditionsthat engender it, and
how it differs across place or time is yielding a rich and varied body of knowledge
on human wellness.
Interestingly, research on well-being had tended to fall into two general groups,
basedonwhatismeantbywell-being.Thehedonicviewpointfocusesonsubjective
well-being, which is frequently equated with happiness and is formally defined as
morepositiveaffect, lessnegativeaffect, andgreaterlifesatisfaction(e.g. Diener&
Lucas1999).Incontrast,theeudaimonicviewpointfocusesonpsychologicalwell-
being, which is defined more broadly in terms of the fully functioning person and
hasbeenoperationalizedeitherasasetofsixdimensions(Ryff1989a),ashappiness
plus meaningfulness (McGregor & Little 1998), or as a set of wellness variables
such as self-actualization and vitality (Ryan & Deci 2000). Interestingly, despite
divisions over definitional and philosophical issues, the two research literatures,
although to some degree overlapping, have tended to ask different questions and
thus complement each other, providing an extensive picture of myriad person,
context, and cultural factors that relate to the nature and promotion of wellness.
Exciting findings have challenged old theories, raised new questions, and supplied
nutriment for structured interventions to better the lives of people.
One also finds that researchers within the field of well-being are grappling with
an issue that cross-cuts all social sciences, namely that concerning cultural rel-
ativism versus universals in human nature. This issue will no doubt continue to
receive empirical attention, and it will likely be addressed by use of multilevel
analytic strategies. That is, research will continue to uncover the relatively inde-
pendent sources of variance in well-being owing to cultures and more proximal
social contexts, as well as to between-person and within-person influences.
Perhapstheconcernofgreatestimportance,notonlyforpsychologicaltheorists,
but also for humanity, is the study of the relations between personal well-being
and the broader issues of the collective wellness of humanity and the wellness
of the planet. It is clear that, as individuals pursue aims they find satisfying or
pleasurable, they may create conditions that make more formidable the attainment
ofwell-beingbyothers.Animportantissue,therefore,concernsthe extenttowhich
factors that foster individual well-being can be aligned or made congruent with
factors that facilitate wellness at collective or global levels. Such research will,
one would hope, point the way toward means through which individuals can seek
hedonic or eudaimonic outcomes in ways that are sustainable in the context of
the four billion others who also aspire to be fully functioning and satisfied in this
earthly life.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Preparation of this chapter was supported in part by grant MH-53385 from the
National Institute of Mental Health.
Visit the Annual Reviews home page at www.AnnualReviews.org
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