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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Jan;88(1):158-64.

Life satisfaction set point: stability and change.

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Department of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, IN, USA.


Using data from 17 years of a large and nationally representative panel study from Germany, the authors examined whether there is a set point for life satisfaction (LS)--stability across time, even though it can be perturbed for short periods by life events. The authors found that 24% of respondents changed significantly in LS from the first 5 years to the last 5 years and that stability declined as the period between measurements increased. Average LS in the first 5 years correlated .51 with the 5-year average of LS during the last 5 years. Height, weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and personality traits were all more stable than LS, whereas income was about as stable as LS. Almost 9% of the sample changed an average of 3 or more points on a 10-point scale from the first 5 to last 5 years of the study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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