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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 Mar;102(3):592-615. doi: 10.1037/a0025948. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Subjective well-being and adaptation to life events: a meta-analysis.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Berlin, Germany. luhmann@uchicago.edu

Abstract

Previous research has shown that major life events can have short- and long-term effects on subjective well-being (SWB). The present meta-analysis examines (a) whether life events have different effects on affective and cognitive well-being and (b) how the rate of adaptation varies across different life events. Longitudinal data from 188 publications (313 samples, N = 65,911) were integrated to describe the reaction and adaptation to 4 family events (marriage, divorce, bereavement, childbirth) and 4 work events (unemployment, reemployment, retirement, relocation/migration). The findings show that life events have very different effects on affective and cognitive well-being and that for most events the effects of life events on cognitive well-being are stronger and more consistent across samples. Different life events differ in their effects on SWB, but these effects are not a function of the alleged desirability of events. The results are discussed with respect to their theoretical implications, and recommendations for future studies on adaptation are given.

PMID:
22059843
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3289759
Free PMC Article

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