The Science of Subjective Well-Being

Edited by Michael Eid and Randy J. Larsen

November 6, 2007
ISBN 9781593855819
Price: $121.00
546 Pages
Size: 6⅛" x 9¼"
October 9, 2008
ISBN 9781606230732
Price: $61.00
546 Pages
Size: 6⅛" x 9¼"

This authoritative volume reviews the breadth of current scientific knowledge on subjective well-being (SWB): its definition, causes and consequences, measurement, and practical applications that may help people become happier. Leading experts explore the connections between SWB and a range of intrapersonal and interpersonal phenomena, including personality, health, relationship satisfaction, wealth, cognitive processes, emotion regulation, religion, family life, school and work experiences, and culture. Interventions and practices that enhance SWB are examined, with attention to both their benefits and limitations. The concluding chapter from Ed Diener dispels common myths in the field and presents a thoughtful agenda for future research.

“Editors Michael Eid and Randy J. Larsen bring together all in one place most of the heavy hitters in the field...This volume is the type of book that dissertation mentors will nudge their advisees to read, that professors will adopt as the foundation for graduate or upper-level college seminars on subjective well-being and related topics, and that faculty will want to peruse to see the creative and innovative ways in which this rich field has evolved.”


“What makes us happy? One might think this a very simple question, but the contributors to this volume suggest that many of our intuitions are not well supported by science. Instead, subjective well-being in individuals and societies is only partially about accumulating hedonic pleasures and stores of wealth, and even these relationships are not what one might predict. Eid and Larsen have gathered together brilliant thinkers and lively writers who trace from ancient philosophy to contemporary behavioral economics what it is that makes us feel good about our lives.”

—Peter Salovey, PhD, Dean of Yale College and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, Yale University

“Research into subjective well-being has a sustained and honored lineage within psychology, in large part due to the work of Ed Diener and his associates. This book describes what researchers in this area have learned and where we might be headed in the future. It deserves a prominent place on every psychologist's bookshelf. The book is a valuable resource—thorough, intelligent, and provocative—and an action plan for a topic of great individual and societal importance.”

—Christopher Peterson, PhD, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

“This terrific book captured my attention for hours of nonstop, riveting reading. The contributors are all first-rate, consisting of both eminent social scientists in the field of well-being and innovative young scholars. With a combination of breadth and depth, the book provides comprehensive treatment of cutting-edge theory and research. Chapters cover a broad array of topics, as varied as evolutionary and developmental psychology, behavioral genetics, measurement, happiness interventions, history, and philosophy. This book is indispensable for anyone interested in positive psychology, and is an ideal resource for graduate-level and advanced undergraduate classes.”

—Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside

Table of Contents

1. Ed Diener and the Science of Subjective Well-Being, Randy J. Larsen and Michael Eid

I. The Realm of Subjective Well-being

2. Philosophy and the Science of Subjective Well-Being, Daniel M. Haybron

3. Sociological Theories of Subjective Well-Being, Ruut Veenhoven

4. Evolution and Subjective Well-Being, Sarah E. Hill and David M. Buss

5. The Pursuit of Happiness in History, Darrin M. McMahon

II. Measuring Subjective Well-being

6. The Structure of Subjective Well-Being, Ulrich Schimmack

7. The Assessment of Subjective Well-Being: Successes and Shortfalls, William Pavot

8. Measuring the Immeasurable: Psychometric Modeling of Subjective Well-Being Data, Michael Eid

III. The Happy Person

9. Personality and Subjective Well-Being, Richard E. Lucas

10. Happiness and the Invisible Threads of Social Connection: The Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study, John T. Cacioppo, Louise C. Hawkley, Ariel Kalil, M. E. Hughes, Linda Waite, and Ronald A. Thisted

11. The Happy Mind in Action: The Cognitive Basis of Subjective Well-Being, Michael D. Robinson and Rebecca J. Compton

12. The Frequency of Social Comparison and Its Relation to Subjective Well-Being, Frank Fujita

13. Regulation of Emotional Well-Being: Overcoming the Hedonic Treadmill, Randy J. Larsen and Zvjezdana Prizmic

14. Two New Questions about Happiness: "Is Happiness Good?" and "Is Happier Better?", Shigehiro Oishi and Minkyung Koo

15. Material Wealth and Subjective Well-Being, Robert M. Biswas-Diener

16. Religion and Human Flourishing, David G. Myers

IV. Subjective Well-Being in the Interpersonal Domain

17. What Makes People Happy?: A Developmental Approach to the Literature on Family Relationships and Well-Being, Marissa L. Diener and Mary Beth Diener McGavran

18. Research on Life Satisfaction of Children and Youth: Implications for the Delivery of School-Related Services, E. Scott Huebner and Carol Diener

19. Job Satisfaction: Subjective Well-Being at Work, Timothy A. Judge and Ryan Klinger

20. Comparing Subjective Well-Being across Cultures and Nations: The "What" and "Why" Questions, Eunkook M. Suh and Jayoung Koo

V. Making People Happier

21. Interventions for Enhancing Subjective Well-Being: Can We Make People Happier, and Should We?, Laura A. King

22. Promoting Positive Affect, Barbara L. Fredrickson

23. Gratitude, Subjective Well-Being, and the Brain, Robert A. Emmons

VI. Conclusions and Future Directions

25. Myths in the Science of Happiness, and Directions for Future Research, Ed Diener

About the Editors

Michael Eid, DSc, is Professor of Psychology at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. Dr. Eid is currently Editor of Methodology—European Journal of Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Associate Editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology. His main research interests are subjective well-being, mood regulation, multimethod measurement, and longitudinal data analysis.

Randy J. Larsen, PhD, is the William R. Stuckenberg Professor of Human Values and Moral Development and Chair of the Psychology Department at Washington University in St. Louis. He conducts research on emotion, primarily in terms of differences between people, and studies such topics as subjective well-being, mood variability, jealousy, attraction, depression, and strategies for the self-management of self-esteem and emotion. Dr. Larsen is an elected member of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology and is listed as one of the highly cited psychologists by the Institute for Scientific Information.


Robert M. Biswas-Diener, MS, Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

David M. Buss, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

John T. Cacioppo, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Rebecca J. Compton, PhD, Department of Psychology, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania

Carol Diener, PhD, JD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

Ed Diener, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

Marissa L. Diener, PhD, Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mary Beth Diener McGavran, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

Michael Eid, DSc, Department of Psychology, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Robert A. Emmons, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, California

Barbara L. Frederickson, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Frank Fujita, PhD, Department of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, Indiana

Louise C. Hawkley, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Daniel M. Haybron, PhD, Department of Philosophy, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

E. Scott Huebner, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina at Columbia, Columbia, South Carolina

M. E. Hughes, PhD, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

Sarah E. Hill, PhD, Department of Psychology, California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California

Timothy A. Judge, PhD, Department of Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Ariel Kalil, PhD, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Laura A. King, PhD, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

Ryan Klinger, MSM, doctoral student, Department of Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Jayoung Koo, MA, Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

Minkyung Koo, MA, doctoral student, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Randy J. Larsen, PhD, Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Richard E. Lucas, PhD, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Darrin M. McMahon, PhD, Department of History, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

David G. Myers, PhD, Department of Psychology, Hope College, Holland, Michigan

Shigehiro Oishi, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

William Pavot, PhD, Department of Social Science, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, Minnesota

Zvjezdana Prizmic, PhD, Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Michael D. Robinson, PhD, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota

Ulrich Schimmack, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Eunkook M. Suh, PhD, Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

Ronald A. Thisted, PhD, Departments of Health Studies and Statistics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Ruut Veenhoven, PhD, Faculty of Social Science, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Linda Waite, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois


Researchers and students in social and personality psychology.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.