Quality of Life Research

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1061–1069 | Cite as

Cognitive motivational systems and life satisfaction in serious and persistent mental illness

  • Iruma Bello
  • John J. Steffen
  • Kentaro Hayashi



Levels of life satisfaction are commonly used to measure attainment of recovery in serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). There is some controversy about what constitutes life satisfaction and its measurement. This study explored the influence of cognitive motivational systems upon estimations of life satisfaction using structural equation modeling (SEM).


One hundred and ninety participants diagnosed with SPMI from Hawai’i’s public mental health system completed instruments measuring cognitive motivational systems (e.g., behavioral activation and inhibition), psychological distress, and life satisfaction (e.g., quality of life and subjective well-being).


Exploratory models indicated that higher behavioral inhibition or psychological distress predicts lower levels of life satisfaction. However, higher levels of behavioral activation predict higher levels of life satisfaction. There was no support for psychological distress as a mediator between cognitive motivational systems and life satisfaction.


Overall, cognitive motivational systems accounted for 15% of the variance in life satisfaction while psychological distress accounted for 29%. This suggests the importance of considering cognitive schemas and motivation beyond symptomatology when examining life satisfaction.


Severe mental illness Quality of life Behavioral activation Behavioral inhibition 



Serious and persistent mental illness


Structural equation modeling


Quality of life


Subjective well-being


Behavioral activation system


Behavioral inhibition system


Community mental health center


Mental health inventory


Comparative fit index


Root mean square error of approximation


Standard deviation


Behavioral activation system fun seeking scale


Behavioral activation system reward responsiveness scale


Behavioral activation system drive scale


Mental health inventory depression scale


Mental health inventory loss of emotional control scale


Mental health inventory anxiety scale



We would like to thank the State of Hawai’i’s Adult Mental Health Division and the Mental Health Services Research, Evaluation and Training Center for funding the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iruma Bello
    • 1
    • 2
  • John J. Steffen
    • 3
  • Kentaro Hayashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Hawai’i at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Social Science Research InstituteUniversity of Hawai’i at ManoaManoa HonoluluUSA

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