and Subjective Well-Being
Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener
In this chapter we describe and relate two psychological concepts: subjective well-being (SWB) and psychological empowerment. Subjective well-being is defined as people’s positive evaluations of their lives, including pleasant emotions, fulfillment, and life satisfaction (for general background on SWB, see Diener 1984 and Kahneman, Diener, and Schwarz 1999). Psychological empowerment represents one facet of SWB—people’s belief that they have the resources, energy, and competence to accomplish important goals. Subjective well-being is one important variable by which the quality of life in societies can be measured—the fact that people in the society find their lives to be fulfilling and happy. We review some of the causes of facets of subjective wellbeing, as well as their consequences, including feelings of empowerment. We also describe some cultural variations in SWB and differences between societies in what causes SWB.
Psychological empowerment often accompanies and follows from certain other facets of SWB such as positive affect (pleasant moods and emotions). Such positive emotions, when induced in laboratory experimental studies, have been found to have certain predictable consequences, including sociability, self-confidence, leadership and dominance, flexible thinking, altruism, active engagement with the environment, and self-regulatory ability. In other words, positive moods produce a state that appears to be similar to psychological empowerment. Success can lead to psychological empowerment when it heightens positive emotions, and psychological empowerment in turn can lead to further success if external conditions allow it.
We argue that although external conditions are necessary for empowerment, they are not sufficient for it without psychological feelings of competence, energy, and the desire to act. Thus, empowerment consists of both the