Empirical Relationships Among Five Types of Well Being

Seth Margolis, Eric Schwitzgebel, Daniel J. Ozer, and Sonja Lyubomirsky

In M.T. Lee, L.D. Kubzansky, and T.J. VanderWeele, eds., Measuring Well-Being (2021), Oxford University Press.

Philosophers, psychologists, economists and other social scientists continue to debate the nature of human well-being. We argue that this debate centers around five main conceptualizations of well-being: hedonic well-being, life satisfaction, desire fulfillment, eudaimonia, and noneudaimonic objective-list well-being. Each type of well-being is conceptually different, but are they empirically distinguishable? To address this question, we first developed and validated a measure of desire fulfillment, as no measure existed, and then examined associations between this new measure and several other well-being measures. In addition, we explored associations among all five types of well-being. We found high correlations among all measures of wellbeing, but generally correlations did not approach unity, even when correcting for unreliability. Furthermore, correlations between well-being and related constructs (e.g., demographics, personality) depended on the type of well-being measured. We conclude that empirical findings based on one type of well-being measure may not generalize to all types of well-being.

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