Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Study on Life Satisfaction and Emotional Well-Being among University Students

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Study on Life Satisfaction and Emotional Well-Being among University Students

Article excerpt

Since ancient times humans have wondered about what makes a good life. Scientists who study subjective well-being assume that an essential ingredient of the good life is that the person herself likes her life. Subjective well-being is defined as a person's cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life. These evaluations include emotional reactions to events as well as cognitive judgments of satisfaction and fulfillment.

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in research on the construct of subjective well-being (SWB; Diener, 1984; Diener & Larsen, 1992). The research has begun to provide an important complement to one of psychology's traditional goals: the understanding of unhappiness or ill-being in the form of depression, anxiety and unpleasant emotions. The addition of a positive orientation toward the individual's subjective experience of well-being provides an additional perspective for researchers and clinicians alike.

Research has identified two broad aspects of subjective wellbeing: an affective component, which is usually further divided into pleasant affect and unpleasant affect (Diener, 1990; Diener & Emmons, 1984) and a cognitive component, which is referred to as life satisfaction (Andrews & Withey, 1976). When assessed, these components of SWB are at least moderately correlated, and a number ofmeasures of SWB include both components (Chamberlain, 1988). Several researchers, however, have found separate satisfaction and affect components (Andrews & Withey, 1976; Judge, 1990; Liang, 1985; Stock, Okun, & Benin, 1986). These components appear to sometimes behave differently over time and to have differing relationships with other variables (Beiser, 1974; Campbell, Converse, & Rogers, 1976; DeHaes, Pennink, & Welvaart, 1987). The affective and cognitive components of SWB are not completely independent; however, the two components are somewhat distinctive and can provide complementary information when assessed separately.

Life satisfaction refers to a judgmental process, in which individuals assess the quality of their lives on the basis of their own unique set of criteria (Shin & Johnson). A comparison of one's perceived life circumstances with a self-imposed standard or set of standards is presumably made, and to the degree that conditions match these standards, the person reports high life satisfaction. Therefore, life satisfaction is a conscious cognitive judgment of one's life in which the criteria forjudgment are up to the person.

Emotional well-being is not the absence of emotions, but it is the ability to understand the value of emotions and use them to move once life forward in positive directions. A useful definition of emotional well-being is offered by the Mental Health Foundation: A positive sense of well-being which enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life; people in good mental health have the ability to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune.'

Life satisfaction can reflect experiences that have influenced a person in a positive way. These experiences have the ability to motivate people to pursue and reach their goals. There are two kinds of emotions that may influence how people perceive their lives. Hope and optimism both consist of cognitive processes that are usually oriented towards the reaching of goals and the perception of those goals. Additionally, optimism is linked to higher life satisfaction, whereas pessimism is related to symptoms in depression. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a single scale that is used by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latin barometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR to measure how one views his or her self-esteem, well-being and overall happiness with life. Previous modeling showed that positive views and life satisfaction were completely mediated by the concept of self-esteem, together with the different ways in which ideas and events are perceived by people. …

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