May 23

Why is personality related to subjective well-being?

Posted by aadsera

According to Ed Diener and Richard E. Lucas, there are several groups of theoretical models that explain how and why personality is related to subjective well-being:

1. Temperament models. People have emotional set-points to which they return after experiencing an event, whether positive or negative. That is, set-points act as stabilizing factors.
2. Congruence models. People experience a higher subjective well-being when their personality fits the environment.
3. Cognitive models. The way someone processes information about rewards and positive incentives, more than biological sensitivity to these stimuli, is what determines the degree of subjective well-being.
4. Goal models. Subjective well-being is influenced by the type of goals for which people strive, by the ways in which people try to achieve their goals, and by the success obtained when these goals are met.
5. Emotion socialization models. Through classical conditioning, instrumental learning, imitation, etc., people are taught to detect which emotions are appropriate in each social context. This process of socialization leads people to have stable differences regarding affectivity.

Reference:
Diener, E., Lucas, R.E. (2003). “Personality and subjective well-being.” In Kahneman, D., Diener, E., Schwarz, N. [Eds.] Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. (pp 213-229). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

May 01

Well-being and gender differences

Posted by aadsera

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema and Cheryl L. Rusting have done a review of published research on this topic and concluded that women experience and express positive emotions more intensely than men, such as those regarding love, happiness and joy. This is observed in self-report studies and in studies of nonverbal behavior. Women have more expressive faces, look at others more, and employ closer physical distances to others.

The authors ask why this is so. It seems that with regard to positive emotion, the biological differences between men and women (hormones, sex-linked genetic differences, etc.) have little influence. Personality differences (emotional intensity, empathy, coping, type A personality, etc.) seem to be more proven, but this is more remarkable in negative emotions than in positive emotions. Sociocultural variables seem to have more empirical support. The authors propose a comprehensive model that takes this factor into account. Women are socialized to experience and express emotions that show higher levels of affection, dispositional empathy and sensitivity to others. In contrast, men are socialized to not express affection as intensely.

Reference:
Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Rusting, C.L. (2003). “Gender differencen in well-being.” In Kahneman, D., Diener, E., Schwarz, N. [Eds.] Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. (pp 330-346). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.