Subjective Well-Being (SWB)

Subjective well-being (SWB) is the term used to describe how individuals perceive and assess their lives as well as particular spheres and activities within them. It is frequently used to gauge one's happiness and mental well-being and is a reliable indicator of one's longevity, longevity, and good health. SWB encompasses a wide range of ideas, from brief encounters in our daily lives to much more general assessments of our lives as a whole (Kim-Prieto, Diener, Tamir, Scollon, & Diener, 2005). It is typically viewed as a hedonic concept rather than a eudaimonic one (Deci & Ryan, 2008; Huta & Waterman, 2014).

History of Subjective Well-Being

A three-part model of subjective well-being developed by psychologist Ed Diener was first presented in 1984. This model identifies three different yet connected aspects of how individuals perceive their own well-being:

  • Frequent positive affect: This involves feeling happy and in a good mood.

  • Infrequent negative affect: This entails avoiding having bad moods or feelings frequently.

  • Cognitive evaluations of life satisfaction: This aspect relates to how people think about their lives and their overall life satisfaction.

The diagram shows the three components visually where LS = life satisfaction, PA = positive affect, and NA = negative affect.

They are seen as separate but related because people frequently evaluate their emotional states (e.g., "I'm feeling great right now") in conjunction with their subjective opinions of their lives (e.g., "My life is fantastic"; Tov & Diener, 2013). The three-component model of SWB is made up of three elements (Busseri & Sadava, 2011). Usually, the two affect components are evaluated separately from the life satisfaction component using various scales.

According to Diener, these factors contribute to the quality of life of people. Additionally, it includes emotional reactions and cognitive judgments people make about their own life experiences.

Since its inception in the mid-1980s, subjective well-being has become increasingly popular as a measure of overall life satisfaction, happiness, and well-being. It is frequently used as a measure of mental health and wellness in psychological research. For example, it can also be used to measure the effectiveness of different public health programs by measuring their subjective well-being.

Types of Subjective Well-Being

Diener's original definition of subjective well-being strongly emphasised affective and cognitive well-being. According to other researchers, people's feelings about their lives are strongly influenced by another aspect of well-being that focuses on a sense of purpose and meaning.

  • Experienced Well-Being

The frequency and intensity of people's feelings of happiness and joy are referred to as their experience of well-being. Hedonic well-being is another name for this kind of well-being that is frequently used. It includes both affective and cognitive appraisals of overall well-being.

This kind of well-being has a significant impact on health. For instance, studies have shown that individuals with stronger immune systems are those who frequently experience positive emotions.

  • Eudaimonic Well-Being

Experienced well-being is the main focus of subjective well-being. Eudaimonic well-being, on the other hand, is a different kind of well-being that can influence how people view their lives and their level of happiness.

Living a meaningful life is the key to achieving eudaimonic well-being. Important elements of this kind of subjective well-being include striving for goals, showing compassion for others, discovering your purpose in life, and living up to your own personal ideals.

Causes of Subjective Well-Being

Numerous different factors have an impact on subjective well-being. These influences may be internal—such as a person's personality—or external—such as the setting or culture of their environment. However, scientists have discovered a few significant factors that are crucial to overall subjective well-being.

  • Basic resources: Our subjective sense of wellbeing heavily depends on whether you have access to the resources you need in life, such as money, a place to live, or healthcare.

  • Personality and temperament: Your level of happiness throughout life can be influenced by your innate temperament. Another important factor is your personality. Extroversion, for example, is frequently associated with a more upbeat outlook on life, whereas neuroticism is frequently linked to a more pessimistic outlook.

  • Mindset and resilience: Those who maintain a positive attitude and possess a strong sense of resilience tend to feel more optimistic even when facing difficult life events.

  • Social support: Social support has a significant positive effect on one's physical and mental health, according to research.

  • Societal factors: How you feel about your life can also be influenced by the characteristics of the society in which you live, such as whether it is plagued by issues like crime, war, poverty, or conflict.


Research aimed to explore indicators of subjective well-being among first-year university students attending a South African university found that factors influencing students’ experience of well-being included structural resources provided by the university, information and communication, motivation to graduate, choice of an academic course, lecturers and facilitators, and uncertainties. Students’ self-perceptions of well-being are important for improving their quality of life of attending university.

Improving Subject Well-Being:

If you're looking for ways to improve your life, start with your subjective well-being.

Several strategies have been shown to be effective, including mindfulness and cognitive behaviour interventions.

  • Mindfulness entails developing the ability to concentrate on and value the present. People learn how to live in the now and focus on the things that make them happy and at peace right now, rather than worrying about the past or the future.

  • Cognitive behavioural approaches assist people in identifying harmful thought patterns that undermine enjoyment. Greater optimism and pleasure can result from swapping out these natural thought patterns for more constructive ones.

It's crucial to keep in mind that while your surroundings and circumstances have an impact on your subjective well-being, it also involves how you react and feel. It takes effort to be happy, but there are things you can do to feel happier about your life. Making certain that you are engaging in activities that contribute to your pleasure and joy is a part of this. The key to subjective well-being is figuring out what works for you and prioritising happiness.

The more we understand subjective well-being, the more prepared we are to begin raising our level of happiness as a whole. You're well on your way to increased life satisfaction and a positive affect balance you can start to make more good moments in your life, figure out your core values, and take action to reach your objectives.


Cherry, K., (2022, March 11) What is Subjective Well-Being? Retrieved from-

Botha, B., Mostert. K., Jacobs, M., (2019) Exploring indicators of subjective well-being for first-year university students, Journal of Psychology in Africa, 29:5, 480-490, DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2019.1665885

Moore, C., (2019, December 30) Subjective Wellbeing: Why Is It Important and How Can We Measure It? Retrieved from-


This Blog on 'Subjective Well-Being (SWB)' has been contributed by Nishita, who is currently pursuing B.A. Hons. in Psychology from the University of Lucknow. She is keen to learn about the complexities of the human mind and broaden her knowledge in the field of Psychology She is looking forward to becoming a Clinical Psychologist.

She is part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP). GIRP is an IJNGP initiative to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.