Article

Grant Me the Grace of Control: How a Sense-of-Control Mindset Increases Subjective Well-Being

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Abstract

Two studies tested whether creating a sense-of-control mindset increases subjective well-being (SWB). In Study 1, people reflected either on aspects of their lives they could control or on aspects they could not control. Study 2 was a longitudinal study that allowed us to measure changes in SWB and to separate our manipulations of sense-of-control temporally from our dependent variables. In both studies, creating a sense-of-control mindset increased SWB. We also tested whether two key predictors of SWB – optimism and authenticity – mediated the effect of sense-of-control on SWB. Across both studies, optimism but not authenticity mediated this effect. Furthermore, Study 2 found that reflecting on a sense-of-control every other day for 10 days increased both SWB and optimism from baseline. In contrast, reflecting on what one could not control decreased both SWB and optimism from baseline. These results establish a robust relationship between a sense-of-control mindset and SWB through increased optimism.

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