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30-04-2018 | Uitgave 8/2018

Quality of Life Research 8/2018

Directionality of the relationship between social well-being and subjective well-being: evidence from a 20-year longitudinal study

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 8/2018
Mohsen Joshanloo, M. Joseph Sirgy, Joonha Park
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-018-1865-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Self-determination theory suggests that psycho-social well-being prospectively predicts subjective well-being. In contrast, the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions suggests that subjective well-being has a positive impact on subsequent levels of psycho-social well-being. The present study sought to empirically disentangle the directionality of the relationship between subjective well-being and social well-being over time.


The study used three waves of survey data, with intervals of 10 years, from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) project, a representative longitudinal panel study of American adults (N = 2732). Cross-lagged panel modeling was used for data analysis.


The results revealed that social well-being predicted increases in subsequent subjective well-being, whereas subjective well-being did not prospectively predict social well-being. Social well-being also demonstrated more stability over time than did subjective well-being.


These findings suggest that optimal social functioning is more likely to be an antecedent to subjective well-being, not the other way around. The results are consistent with predictions guided by self-determination theory.

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