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Intrapersonal and Extrapersonal Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Married Couples Ulrich Schimmack University of Toronto Mississauga.

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Presentation on theme: "Intrapersonal and Extrapersonal Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Married Couples Ulrich Schimmack University of Toronto Mississauga."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intrapersonal and Extrapersonal Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Married Couples Ulrich Schimmack University of Toronto Mississauga

2 Subjective Well Being A. Subjective Well Being (SWB) researchers search for the determinants of “Happiness.” B. The everyday construct of “Happiness” is too vague for scientific purposes. C. SWB has been defined as a multidimensional construct that has an affective and a cognitive component (Diener, 1984). D. The affective component is the balance of pleasant and unpleasant experiences (hedonism).

3 Life Satisfaction A. The cognitive component is the evaluation of one’s life as good or bad. B. It is typically assessed by life-satisfaction judgments (I am satisfied with my life.) C. Sumner (1996), a philosopher at UofT, pointed out that life-satisfaction is a better indicator of well-being than hedonistic measures. D. One reason is that somebody could choose a life with less pleasure.

4 Life Satisfaction Judgments A. Although life satisfaction is theoretically the best indicator of SWB, life satisfaction judgments may be invalid. B. The use of life satisfaction judgments assumes that people are able to assess their own life satisfaction and that they are willing to report it accurately.

5 Are Life Satisfaction Judgments Valid? Retest Stability A. If life satisfaction judgments are valid, they should be stable over short time intervals. B. In contrast, low retest-correlations would indicate that people’s judgments are based on temporarily accessible information (e.g., the weather, finding a dime).

6 “Measures of SWB have low test-retest correlations, usually hovering around.40, and not exceeding.60 [italics added] when the same question is asked twice during the same one- hour interview (Andrews & Whithey, 1976; Glatzer, 1984)” (p. 62). Source: Schwarz and Strack, 1999, p. 62

7 A. A meta-analysis of published retest- correlations of life satisfaction judgments. B. 80 coefficients with retest intervals ranging from less than 1 hour to 15 years. Source: Schimmack, U. & Oishi, S. (in press). Chronically accessible versus temporarily accessible sources of life satisfaction judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

8 Andrew & Whitey, 1976

9 Conclusion A. Life satisfaction judgments are highly stable over short time intervals (r =.70, for multi-item scales). B. Stability decreases over time, indicating that people’s satisfaction changes in response to changing life-circumstances.

10 Validity of Life Satisfaction Judgments: Experimental Evidence A. Some studies have manipulated the order of life satisfaction judgments and domain satisfaction judgments. B. For example, a preceding question about marital satisfaction could increase the accessibility of this domain and inflate the correlation between marital satisfaction and life satisfaction.

11 “When life satisfaction is assessed in a survey with other questions, they may be “subject to pronounced [italics added] question order- effects because the content of preceding questions influences the temporary accessibility of relevant information” Source: Schwarz & Strack, 1999, p. 79

12 Empirical Evidence StudyG-SS-G Schwarz et al. (1991a) Schwarz et al. (1991b) Schuman & Presser (1981) Smith (1982) General Social Survey Tourangeau et al. (1991) Average.42.46

13 Conclusion A. Temporal accessibility has a negligible influence on life satisfaction judgments. B. Marital satisfaction is correlated with life satisfaction even when life satisfaction is assessed first. A recent meta-analysis also found that the average correlation is r =.42 and estimated that the true relation (corrected for random measurement error) is.52. Heller, Watson, & Hies, (2004). Psychological Bulletin.

14 Causality A. Correlations between life satisfaction and domain satisfaction do not prove causality. B. Three causal models have been proposed in the literature: - Bottom Up Model - Top Down Model - Top Down/Bottom Up Model Sources: Brief, Butcher, George, & Link (1993), JPSP, Schimmack, Diener, & Oishi (2002), Journal of Personality; Heller, Watson, & Hies, (2004). Psychological Bulletin.

15 Illustration with Attractiveness A. Body-Mass Index (kg / m 2 ) B. Satisfaction with Attractiveness - 4-item “Appearance Esteem” scale - “How often do you have the feeling that you are unattractive?” Source: Pliner, P., Chaiken, S., Flett, G. L., PSPB, 1990 C. Life Satisfaction - Satisfaction With Life Scale - “I am satisfied with my life” Source: Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S., Pers. Assess., 1985.

16 D. Depression - 5-item short scale, alpha =.90 “I tend to feel depressed” Based on Schimmack, Oishi, Funder, & Furr (2004), PSPB, 10-item scale. Participants UTM students (347 males, 777 females).

17 Bottom Up Model BMI ATT SWLS r = -.03 (N = 1124) m r =.07 (N = 347) f r = -.05 (N = 777) r =.36* (N = 1124) m r =.40* (N = 347) f r =.37* (N = 777) r = -.05 (N = 1124) m r =.01 (N = 347) f r = -.15* (N = 777)

18 Top-Down Model BMI ATT SWLS r = -.03 (N = 1124) m r =.07 (N = 347) f r = -.05 (N = 777) r =.36* (N = 1124) m r =.40* (N = 347) f r =.37* (N = 777) r = -.05 (N = 1124) m r =.01 (N = 347) f r = -.15* (N = 777)

19 Top-Down/Bottom-Up Model DEP BMI ATTSWLS n.s

20 In general, it has been difficult to find objective predictors of life-satisfaction. “…researchers are often disappointed by the relatively small effect sizes for the external, objective variables that were explored in most early studies.” Source: Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith (1999). Psychological Bulletin.

21 Marital Satisfaction and Life Satisfaction: Top-Down or Bottom-Up Effects? The correlation between marital satisfaction and life satisfaction can be due to top-down or bottom-up effects. Studies that rely on ratings of a single spouse cannot distinguish top-down from bottom-up effects.

22 A Dyadic Approach A. Extrapersonal effects of relationship quality should have similar effects on marital satisfaction of both spouses. B. Intrapersonal effects of personality should produce correlations among personality and life satisfaction within one spouse. C. Thus, dyadic studies allow the separation of extrapersonal and intrapersonal determinants of life satisfaction.

23 University of Toronto Marriage Study Poppy Lockwood Rebecca Pinkus Ulrich Schimmack Participants. 113 married couples were recruited through newspaper ads in the Metro. Participants completed questionnaires during a 2-hour intake session.

24 Measures A. Life satisfaction: Satisfaction with Life Scale B.Marital satisfaction: A highly reliable 4-item scale (“I am extremely satisfied with my marriage”) C. Personality self-ratings: The Big Five & Depression and Cheerfulness

25 W-DepW-MSW-LS H-DepH-MSH-LS RQAEPF a a’ d b’ b e e’ f f’ c c’ c’ Theoretical Model

26 W-DepW-MSW-LS H-DepH-MSH-LS RQAEPF -.39*.35*.60.60*.44*.43* -.19* Model fit: chi-square (df = 12) = 22, p =.03, CFI =.955, RMSEA =.088

27 Predictor Explained Variance Depression18% Perception of Marital satisfaction17% Intrapersonal 35 Relationship Quality14% Additional EP Factors15% Extrapersonal29% Total64%

28 Conclusion The first dyadic study of SWB demonstrates a large contribution of extrapersonal factors to life satisfaction. One important extrapersonal factor is relationship quality. Future research needs to examine the specific processes that contribute to extrapersonal determinants of life satisfaction.


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