Validation of a general subjective well-being factor using Classical Test Theory

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Background: Subjective Well-Being (SWB) is usually conceptualized in terms of an affective (i.e., judgements of biological emotional reactions and experiences) and a cognitive component (i.e., judgements of life satisfaction in relation to a psychological self-imposed ideal). Recently, researchers have suggested that judgements of harmony in life can replace or at least complement the cognitive component of SWB. Here, however, we go beyond that suggestion and propose that harmony in life should be seen as SWB's social component since it is the sense of balance between the individual and the world around her-a process that comprises acceptance, adaptation, and balance. By adding judgements of one's social interactions (i.e., harmony in life) to judgments of one's life satisfaction (psycho) and judgements of one's emotional reactions (bio), we propose a tentatively biopsychosocial model of SWB. As a first step, we used different factorial models in order to determine if both a general factor and specific sub-factors contribute to the biopsychosocial model of SWB.

Method: A total of 527 participants responded to the Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; 20 items), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; five items), and the Harmony in life Scale (HILS; five items). We conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to validate the biopsychosocial model of subjective well-being and a general factor (SWBS).

Results: The 20 PANAS items reflected a mixture of general latent structure saturation and specific latent structure saturation, but contributed to their respective specific latent factor (PA: 48%; NA: 49%) more than to the general latent SWBS factor (positive affect: 25%; negative affect: 32%). The five SWLS items contributed to a larger degree to the general SWBS factor (72%) than to life satisfaction itself (22%), while the five HILS items contributed to even a larger degree to the general SWBS factor (98%) than to harmony in life (0%). The bifactor model was the best model compared with all other models we tested (χ2 = 1,660.78, df = 375, p < 0.001); Satorra Bentler χ2 = 1,265.80, df = 375, p < 0.001; CFI = 0.92; Tucker-Lewis Index = 0.91; RMSEA = 0.067. This model of a general SWBS factor explained about 64% of the total variance in the model, while specific SWBS components together explained 15% of the total variance.

Conclusion: Our study suggests SWB as a general factor in a multidimensional biopsychosocial model. Indeed, as much as 64% of the variance of SWB was explained by this general factor. The SWB components, however, contributed to a different degree to each corresponding factor in the model. For instance, while the affective and cognitive components seem to be their own constructs and also part of the general SWB factor, the social component tested here contributed 0% to its own variance but 98% to the general factor.


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Externa organisationer
  • Göteborgs universitet
  • Sapienza University of Rome
  • Linköping University
  • Blekinge Centre of competence
  • Anthropedia Foundation

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi
  • Tillämpad psykologi
Sidor (från-till)e9193
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa