Subjective well-being reflects an individual's overarching evaluation of the condition of her or his life. Researchers from economics to psychology to medicine have become increasingly interested in this construct. Health researchers have discovered connections between well-being and mortality, whereas policy-makers are debating how to best use information about well-being to inform policy decisions. The simplest approach to assessing well-being is to use global evaluative measures. Such measures are easily incorporated into large- scale surveys, which has allowed researchers to make substantial contributions to the science of well-being. However, there are pressing concerns about the validity of these evaluative measures. A major alternative is the use of experiential methods that track feelings of satisfaction and affect more or less in real-time. Proponents argue that these approaches are less cognitively demanding than evaluative measures, which makes it less likely that heuristics and biases will affect their validity. The "gold standard" experiential approach is the experience sampling method (ESM) in which a portable recording device is used to track feelings and behaviors in the moment. However, ESM research is expensive, time consuming, and difficult to implement on a large scale. A less intensive alternative is the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) in which participants divide their previous day into psychologically-meaningful units and report what they were doing and how they were feeling during those different episodes. The DRM is more practical than ESM for large panel studies. The broad goals of this project are to critically evaluate the psychometric properties of these three approaches and to incorporate both experiential approaches into an on-going, nationally representative panel study that already includes evaluative measures. The first specific aim is to thoroughly evaluate the properties of the DRM by comparing ESM and DRM responses on the same day and by estimating the stability of DRM assessments using short- and long-term longitudinal studies and advanced psychometric models. The second specific aim is to precisely quantify the extent that mood, survey context, and priming issues compromise the validity of global measures of well-being. This information is essential for making informed judgments about evaluative measures which are the easiest to implement in large-scale survey research. The final specific aim is to incorporate both ESM and DRM assessments into an on-going, nationally representative panel study. This existing study already includes evaluative measures and has been used to make important discoveries regarding well-being over the lifespan. The goal of the final specific aim will be to evaluate how previous aging- related well-being findings obtained with evaluative measures generalize to experiential methods. More importantly, the data from this longitudinal study will be made publicly available so that other researchers can advance the science of well-being using all three approaches.

Public Health Relevance

This project will evaluate the psychometric properties of experiential and evaluative measures of well- being and incorporate experiential approaches (experience sampling and the day reconstruction method) into an on-going, nationally representative panel study. Improving well-being measurement may improve policy-related decisions and clarify how well-being is linked to health and mortality.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01AG040715-02
Application #
8326582
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-1 (M1))
Program Officer
Nielsen, Lisbeth
Project Start
2011-09-01
Project End
2016-06-30
Budget Start
2012-07-01
Budget End
2013-06-30
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$399,651
Indirect Cost
$133,528
Name
Michigan State University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
193247145
City
East Lansing
State
MI
Country
United States
Zip Code
48824
Anusic, Ivana; Yap, Stevie C Y; Lucas, Richard E (2014) Does personality moderate reaction and adaptation to major life events? Analysis of life satisfaction and affect in an Australian national sample. J Res Pers 5:69-77
Lucas, Richard E (2014) Life Satisfaction of U.S. Counties Predicts Population Growth. Soc Psychol Personal Sci 5:383-388
Anusic, Ivana; Yap, Stevie C Y; Lucas, Richard E (2014) Testing Set-Point Theory in a Swiss National Sample: Reaction and Adaptation to Major Life Events. Soc Indic Res 119:1265-1288
Cheung, Felix; Lucas, Richard E (2014) Assessing the validity of single-item life satisfaction measures: results from three large samples. Qual Life Res 23:2809-18
Yap, Stevie C Y; Anusic, Ivana; Donnellan, M Brent et al. (2014) Evidence of Self-Informant Agreement in Ethnic Identity. Soc Psychol Personal Sci 5:865-872
Lucas, Richard E; Lawless, Nicole M (2013) Does life seem better on a sunny day? Examining the association between daily weather conditions and life satisfaction judgments. J Pers Soc Psychol 104:872-84