Subjective Well-Being and Health Behaviors in 2.5 Million Americans


Kushlev, K., Drummond, D. M., & Diener, E. (2020). Subjective well-being and health behaviors in 2.5 million Americans. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 12(1), 166-187.


Background: Happiness and health behavior are positively related, but most existing research does not distinguish between conceptually and empirically distinct
components of subjective well-being—satisfaction with life, positive affect, and negative affect. Method: We assessed the associations of each component of subjective well-being and health behavior, such as exercising and not smoking, in a broad, representative sample of nearly 2.5 million respondents from the USA in
the Gallup Daily Poll. Results: We found that both life satisfaction and positive affect, but not negative affect, are unique predictors of health behavior, even after
controlling for a wide range of variables, including demographics, chronic illness, daily stress and pain, and other relevant factors. Positive affect was linearly related
to health behavior, while life satisfaction showed an association only for individuals relatively satisfied with their lives (but not for those dissatisfied with their
lives). These associations were not moderated by various factors, occurring across gender and age, personal resources like time and money, and environmental affordances such as access to fresh food and safe places to exercise. Conclusions: The relationship between well-being and health behavior is robust and generalisable in a large cross-section of the US population.
Keywords: affect, happiness, health, health behavior, well-being

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