Negative emotions

A 1984 review by Diener that examined early theoretical frameworks on subjective well-being occupied themselves with the scrutiny of bottom-up factors. The bottom-up perspective is the analytical approach that states people become happy when they fulfill basic human needs. Diener & Biswas-Diener (2000) also pointed out that early studies on subjective well-being had focused only on small changes in external and objective variables. In response to these shortcomings, researchers shifted to the top-down approach.

This approach analyzes how an individual perceives events, and how those perceptions influence the individual’s subjective well-being. Temperamental Predisposition for SWB. Diener, Suh, Lucas, and Smith (1999) have also suggested that variances in subjective well-being may be partly explained by genetics. Some individuals are genetically predisposed to be relatively more cheerful, while other individuals have a natural tendency to be relatively more somber. This finding is supported by Tellegen et al. (1988), who asserted that genes were the cause of 40% of the changes in positive emotions, 55% of the changes in negative emotions.

When Tellegen et al. computed the impact of family environment on emotional variance, they found that it had a very small effect relative to the individual’s genes. Family environment accounts for only 22% of the changes in positive emotionality and a mere 2% of the changes in negative emotionality. Apparently, nature is more powerful than nurture, at least when it comes to emotional variance. Thus, one’s natural disposition, which is determined by one’s genes, is one of the most significant determinants of one’s long-term subjective well-being (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2000).

However, Inglehart and Klingemann’s (2000) findings serve as a reminder that genes are not the only important element in determining happiness. Their study revealed great discrepancies between nations in terms of their citizens’ levels of subjective well-being. Personality Traits and Cognitive Dispositions Associated with SWB. Headey and Wearing (1989) discovered that there is a certain baseline of positive and negative affect that individuals return to after they have experienced either a very pleasant or very unpleasant emotion.

Thus, Headey and Wearing posit the dynamic equilibrium theory, which states that a person’s emotional baseline is determined by that individual’s personality. When a person experiences a happy event, he or she moves above this stable baseline. When he or she experiences an unhappy event, he or she moves below it. However, he or she will return to the baseline in due time. Kozma, Stone and Stones (1997) put the dynamic equilibrium theory to the test in their study, which sought to find out what causes the emotional baseline (also known as the level of subjective well-being) to stay relatively stable.

They concluded that the stability of a person’s level of subjective well-being is founded on the stability of that person’s environment, personality, and affective styles. However, it is the environmental stability which plays the smallest role in this regulating mechanism in a human being. Nevertheless, it is Costa and McCrae’s (1980) conceptual model that has received the widest acceptance among psychologists (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999).

Costa and McCrae credit personality traits such as neuroticism and extraversion as key players in determining the subjective well-being of an individual. Positive affect is based on extraversion while negative affect is based on neuroticism. Several researchers, including Fujita (1991) have come forward to lend their support to Costa and McCrae’s theoretical framework. In addition, several theoretical models that seek to explain why extraverts have higher levels of subjective self-awareness than extroverts have appeared in the last decade, such as that of Rusting and Larsen (1997).

Cropanzano and Wright (2001) echo these sentiments with their own definition of subjective well-being. According to them, there are three main features of happiness. First, well-being is subjective. If people believe they are happy, then they are happy. Second, happiness …

However, subjective well-being is affected by more traits than just simply neuroticism and extraversion. Self-esteem also plays a vital role in keeping happiness levels high (Wilson, 1967). However, Diener and Diener (1995) stress that self-esteem less vital for some people …

Brickman and Campbell (1971, in Diener, 2000) suggested that all people labor on a “hedonic treadmill. ” As they rise in their accomplishments and possessions, their expectations also rise. Soon they habituate to the new level, and it no longer …

The area of subjective well-being has three hallmarks. First it is subjective. According to Campbell (1976) it resides within the individual. That is, SWB is defined in terms of the internal experience of the individual. An external frame of reference …

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