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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 May;70(5):1091-102.

Events and subjective well-being: only recent events matter.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 61820, USA.


The effect of life events on subjective well-being (SWB) was explored in a 2-year longitudinal study of 115 participants. It was found that only life events during the previous 3 months influenced life satisfaction and positive and negative affect. Although recent life events influenced SWB even when personality at Time 1 was controlled, distal life events did not correlate with SWB. SWB and life events both showed a substantial degree of temporal stability. It was also found that good and bad life events tend to covary, both between individuals and across periods of the lives of individuals. Also, when events of the opposite valence were controlled, events correlated more strongly with SWB. The counterintuitive finding that good and bad events co-occur suggests an exciting avenue for explorations of the structure of life events.

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