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A Theory of Subjective Wellbeing

posted on 2023-05-22, 08:11 authored by Mark Fabian

The study of “subjective wellbeing” has seen explosive growth in recent decades, opening important new discourses in personality and social psychology, happiness economics, and moral philosophy. Now it is moving into the policy domain. In this it has arguably overstepped its limits. The shallow theoretical base of subjective wellbeing research, the limitations of its measurement instruments, and its ethical naivety make policymaking on the basis of its findings a risky venture. The present volume is an attempt to shore up these weaknesses and set subjective wellbeing scholarship on a course for several more decades of growth and maturation. It presents a theory of subjective wellbeing in two parts. The first is the subjective wellbeing production function—a model of wellbeing as outcome. The second is the coalescence of being—a model of the self-actualization process by which wellbeing is achieved. This two-part model integrates ideas from subjective wellbeing studies with complementary ideas in analytical and continental philosophy, clinical, moral, and developmental psychology, and welfare economics. Importantly, this theory is ethically sensitive, bridging the gap between the philosophical and psychological perspectives on wellbeing in a way that illuminates the complexities facing the application of subjective wellbeing in public policy. The book also provides a thorough review of various ways in which subjective wellbeing can be studied empirically, and the hard trade-offs we face between long surveys that capture the richness of the concept and the parsimony required by social surveys and policy analysis.







Oxford University Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2022 Oxford University Press

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Ethics not elsewhere classified; Preference, behaviour and welfare; Public services policy advice and analysis

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