Individuals differ in their overall levels of psychological health and well-being. These individual differences are important because well-being is associated with many positive life and health outcomes. The two traditional approaches to studying well-being (Keyes, Shmotkin, & Ryff, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2001; Waterman, 1993) are the hedonic or subjective well-being (SWB) tradition, which emphasizes constructs such as happiness, positive affect, low negative affect, and satisfaction with life (e.g., Bradburn, 1969; Diener, 1984; Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999; Kahneman, Diener, & Schwarz, 1999), and the eudaimonic or psychological well-being tradition (PWB), which emphasizes positive psychological functioning and human development (e.g., Rogers, 1961; Ryff, 1989a; Ryff 1989b; Waterman, 1993). While hedonic and eudaimonic approaches are conceptually distinct, empirical findings using self-report measures and self-report outcomes suggest that both approaches tap largely overlapping constructs (King, In-press; Ryan & Deci, 2000; 2001). The current study explores this assertion in some detail, moving beyond associations between self-reported personality and self-reported behavior by using acquaintance ratings, clinician judgments, and directly observed social behaviors, correlating them with a widely-used hedonic conceptualization of well-being, subjective happiness (SH: Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999) and a widely-used eudaimonic measure, Ryff’s (1989a, 1989b) psychological well-being (PWB) scale.
The achievement of happiness has been identified as an important goal for people living in Western cultures (Diener, Suh, Smith & Shao, 1995; Freedman, 1978; Triandis, Bontempo, Leung, & Hui, 1990; Veenhoven, 1994). Though several measures of hedonic well-being have been widely used, most operationalizations of the construct include measures assessing high positive affect, low negative affect, and satisfaction with life. These measures include Bradburn’s (1969) Affect Balance Scale, the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), and the Delighted-Terrible Scale (Andrews & Withey, 1976). Because these measures generally tap only one of the affective or the satisfaction with life components of happiness, Lyubomirsky and Lepper (1999) developed a broader measure of hedonic well-being, the Subjective Happiness (SH) scale which is, “a global, subjective assessment of whether one is a happy or unhappy person” (p. 139). The SH scale, though relatively new, has been used in over 40 studies and in at least 4 cultures outside of the United States (Korean: Lee & Im, 2007, Japanese: Otake, Shimai, Ikemi, Utsuki, Peterson, & Seligman, 2005; Otake, Shimai, Tanaka-Matsumi, Otsui, & Fredrickson, 2006; Russian: Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999; Spanish: Extremera & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2006). In sum, SH is a widely used measure of hedonic well-being and global happiness in various domains and across cultures.
Ryff’s conceptualization of PWB stems from themes regarding positive functioning and optimal aging common among various theorists of life-span and human development including Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Gordon Allport, and Abraham Maslow (Keyes, Shmotkin, & Ryff, 2002; Schmutte & Ryff, 1997). Ryff developed a multidimensional model of well-being that includes six dimensions: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance, which are theorized to vary across the lifespan (Ryff 1989b; Keyes, Shmotkin, & Ryff, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2001). Ryff’s PWB scale has been used in numerous studies in applied and experimental domains. PWB was featured in the 1995 National Survey of Midlife Development in the U.S. (MIDUS; MIDUS II data collection in progress since 2002). In addition, PWB has been examined cross-culturally and has been translated into multiple languages including Swedish (Lindfors, Berntsson, & Lundberg, 2006), Greek (Vleioras & Bosma, 2005), Japanese (Kitamura, Kishida, Gatayama, Matsuoka, Miura & Yamabe, 2004), Chinese (Cheng & Chan, 2005), and Italian (Ruini, Ottolini, Rafanelli, Ryff, & Fava, 2003). In sum, PWB is a measure pervasively used in various domains and across age and culture.
Despite the abundance of research on the two conceptualizations of well-being, the range of methods typically employed has been surprisingly narrow. Schmutte and Ryff (1997, p. 550) noted that “the majority of prior studies used self-reports of personality and well-being/affect without external validation of either construct.” A recent meta-analysis of 225 studies (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005) concluded that SH as well as other measures of hedonic well-being (e.g. subjective well-being, positive affect, and low negative affect) and eudaimonic well-being (e.g., psychological well-being), are related to positive outcomes in work life, social relationships, health, perceptions of self and others, sociability and activity, likeability and cooperation, prosocial behavior, physical well-being and coping, and creativity and problem solving. For example, self-reported extraversion has been found to be highly correlated with positive affect (Costa & McCrae, 1980; Headey & Wearing, 1989; Lucas, Diener, Grob, Suh, & Shao, 2000), negative affect (Costa & McCrae, 1980; Headey & Wearing, 1989), Subjective Happiness (Lyubomirsky, Tkach, & DiMatteo, 2006), satisfaction with life (Diener & Seligman, 2002; Schimmack, Oishi, Furr, & Funder, 2004), and other measures of happiness (Bradburn, 1969; Brebner, Donaldson, Kirby, & Ward, 1995; Costa, McCrae, & Norris, 1981). However, most of these studies examined personality traits using a measure of the Big Five (Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience) and all relied upon self-reports. As Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) noted, “Clearly, more non-self-report measures of key variables are needed in future studies” (p. 841). These could include studies of a) acquaintance ratings, b) clinician judgments, or c) directly observed social behaviors.