Confirmation of Subjective Wellbeing Set-Points: Foundational for Subjective Social Indicators
- 161 Downloads
The usefulness of subjective wellbeing (SWB) as a social indicator rests on understanding what controls its level when measured through self-report data. While the theory of SWB homeostasis provides a cogent explanatory framework for the control processes, this theory relies on set-points, and direct evidence for their existence rests on a single study. Cummins et al. (J Happiness Stud 15:183–206, 2014. doi: 10.1007/s10902-013-9444-9) demonstrated a normal range of set-points between 71 and 90 points on a 0–100 scale, using data on global life satisfaction (GLS). These findings are consistent with homeostasis theory, which proposes that set-points account for the normal positivity of SWB while its stability is accounted for by homeostatic processes. The current paper extends the first report in two ways. First, by replicating the range of set-points using a different data set. Second, by extending the findings to homeostatically protected mood (HPMood), which is proposed to be the basic psychological molecule that homeostasis seeks to protect. Participants completed between 5 and 10 surveys. Data preparation involved the iterative elimination of scores based on significant deviation from their over-time mean score. It is confirmed that GLS and HPMood set-points are both normally distributed between 75 and 90 points. These results offer further support for the usefulness of SWB as a social indicator.
KeywordsSubjective social indicators Subjective wellbeing Set-points Homeostasis Homeostatically protected mood Global life satisfaction
We are deeply grateful for the selfless and collegial assistance provided to us by the anonymous reviewers. The final product is a tribute to their true academic spirit and shared intellect. We also gratefully acknowledge our industry partner, Australian Unity, whose staunch support over many years of data collection made this demonstration of set-points possible.
- Anglim, J., Weinberg, M. K., & Cummins, R. A. (2015). Bayesian hierarchical modeling of the temporal dynamics of subjective well-being: A 10 year longitudinal analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 59, before publication. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2015.08.003.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). 2001.0 Census of Population and Housing: Basic Community Profile, 2011 Second Release. Canberra: ABS. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/2001.0?OpenDocument.
- Bauer, R. A. (1966). Social indicators. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Branden, N. (1966). Emotions and values. The Objectivist, 5(5), 1–9.Google Scholar
- Cummins, R. A. (2016a). Subjective wellbeing as a social indicator. Social Indicators Research, 1–13. doi: 10.1007/s11205-016-1496-x.
- Easterlin, R. A. (2005). Building a better theory of well-being economics and happiness: Framing the analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Forgas, J. P. (1991). Affect and social judgments: An introductory review. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.), Emotion and social judgments (pp. 3–30). Tarrytown, NY: Pergamon.Google Scholar
- Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Halle, T. G. (2003). Emotional development and well-being. In M. H. Bornstein, L. Davidson, C. Keyes, & K. A. Moore (Eds.), Well-being: Positive development across the life course (pp. 125–138). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- International Wellbeing Group. (2013). Personal Wellbeing Index Manual, 5th edition. http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/instruments/wellbeing-index/pwi-a-english.pdf.
- Land, K. C., & Michalos, A. C. (2017). Fifty years after the social indicators movement: Has the promise been fulfilled? An assessment and an agenda for the future. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-017-1571-y.
- Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Tomyn, A. J. (2008). Subjective wellbeing as an affective construct: Theory development and construction with adolescents. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Deakin University, Melbourne. http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/acqol/theses/index.php.
- Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2012). The HILDA survey: A case study in the design and development of a successful household panel study. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3(3), 369–381.Google Scholar
- Wessman, A. E., & Ricks, D. F. (1966). Mood and personality. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar