Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta
Chapter 5: Subjective indicators of well-being: conceptual background and applications in social sciences
During the last three decades, a growing amount of studies have explored indicators of subjective well-being, and their relationship with objective ones in determining the quality of life of individuals and populations across a variety of domains. The conceptualization and empirical operationalization of these indicators, however, represent a major challenge for researchers, due to their psychological nature that implies the use of self-reports to identify and measure them. Despite these difficulties, researchers’ effort led to the identification and rigorous measurement of a well-defined set of subjective indicators of well-being, grouped into hedonic indicators (comprising positive emotions and satisfaction with life) and eudaimonic indicators (including personal growth, meaning construction and resource development). The impact of these indicators on objective dimensions such as health, academic and work performance, and social functioning has been repeatedly highlighted. At the same time, advancements in the study of objective indicators of well-being brought forth the need for integrating these two approaches into a more comprehensive and less discipline-bound view, that can combine the attention to basic human rights and cultural diversity with the emphasis on the human tendency towards inner coherence and balance at the individual level and interconnectedness at the social one.
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