Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress

Ed Diener, Eunkook M. Suh, Richard E. Lucas, Heidi L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4616 Citations (Scopus)


W. Wilson's (1967) review of the area of subjective well-being (SWB) advanced several conclusions regarding those who report high levels of "happiness." A number of his conclusions have been overturned: youth and modest aspirations no longer are seen as prerequisites of SWB. E. Diener's (1984) review placed greater emphasis on theories that stressed psychological factors. In the current article, the authors review current evidence for Wilson's conclusions and discuss modern theories of SWB that stress dispositional influences, adaptation, goals, and coping strategies. The next steps in the evolution of the field are to comprehend the interaction of psychological factors with life circumstances in producing SWB, to understand the causal pathways leading to happiness, understand the processes underlying adaptation to events, and develop theories that explain why certain variables differentially influence the different components of SWB (life satisfaction, pleasant affect, and unpleasant affect).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-302
Number of pages27
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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