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Lecture 16

Lecture 16- Well being.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Ulrich Schimmack

Well-Being Definition  Often called subjective well-being  Lacking clear definition  According to philosophy, well being defined as “preference realization, which essentially means that you have high well-being if your actual life is close to your own ideal. Another way to put it is to say that you have high well-being if you get what you want” o Does not impose standards on people o Assumes people have their own standards and ideals that determine their well being o Consistent with general assumption of personality psychology that people are different from each other  Could be defined as being healthy, having good social relationships and freedom o This definition assumes that people are the same and want the same things Measurement of Well Being  Economists argue that money is a good measure of well being (easily measured)  Simply asking people to report their well being o Make standard assumptions that people are willing and able to report this o Research shows that people are about as good at reporting well being as they are to report personality traits o Sufficient validity to be used for empirical studies although not perfect  Psychologists developed two types of well-being measures: affective and cognitive o Affective: ask for reports of amount of pleasant affective experiences, often called Positive Affect (PA) and amount of unpleasant affective experienced called Negative Affect (NA); higher levels of PA and lower levels of NA indicate higher well-being o Difference between PA and NA called affective balance or hedonic balance (because it is possible to think of well being as a scale o Cognitive measures of well being called life satisfaction judgments (i.e. my life is close to ideal; rate from 1 to 10) o Cognitive and affective measures different in one way:  Affective measures measure how often you feel good/bad  Philosophers argue that well being can be seen as maximum pleasure and minimum displeasure (maximizing pleasure isn’t the motive for everyone)- want to be in touch with reality as well Culture and Life Satisfaction  Results of life satisfaction studies in many nations show consistent cultural differences  World map of happiness- highest in North America and Northern European countries and low in Eastern European and African countries  Wealth is one factor to explain the variation across countries (other factors include human rights, education, health care, low corruption and individualism)  Well-being influenced by cultural and social factors  Wealthy democracies are better countries than others because they provide better opportunities for their citizens to realize their preferences Genes and Environment: Twin Studies  Environmental factors shared with siblings have no influence on life-satisfaction when you are an adult  Fact that life-satisfaction seem to be less heritable than personality traits could suggest that life-satisfaction is more strongly influenced by environmental factors and actual living conditions  Twin studies do not show that genetic factors have influence on life-satisfaction Stability of Individual Differences in Life Satisfaction  Life-satisfaction less stable than other personality characteristics like B5 or attractiveness  Genes tend to produce stability over time in life-satisfaction whereas environmental factors tend to produce changes  Together, twin studies and longitudinal studies suggests that genetic dispositions and biological processes contribute to stable individual differences in well-being  Still don’t know
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