Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity

Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, Forthcoming

63 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2010 Last revised: 1 Dec 2010

Ed Diener

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Micaela Y. Chan

University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Vital Longevity

Date Written: November 23, 2010

Abstract

Seven types of evidence are reviewed that indicate that high subjective well-being (such as life satisfaction, absence of negative emotions, optimism, and positive emotions) causes better health and longevity. For example, prospective longitudinal studies of normal populations provide evidence that various types of subjective well-being such as positive affect predict health and longevity, controlling for health and socioeconomic status at baseline. Combined with experimental human and animal research, as well as naturalistic studies of changes of subjective well-being and physiological processes over time, the case that subjective well-being influences health and longevity in healthy populations is compelling. However, the claim that subjective well-being lengthens the lives of those with certain diseases such as cancer remains controversial. Positive feelings predict longevity and health beyond negative feelings. However, intensely aroused or manic positive affect may be detrimental to health. Issues such as causality, effect size, types of subjective well-being, and statistical controls are discussed.

Keywords: subjective well-being, health, longevity, life expectancy, happiness

Suggested Citation

Diener, Ed and Chan, Micaela Y., Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity (November 23, 2010). Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1701957

Ed Diener

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Micaela Y. Chan (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Vital Longevity ( email )

1600 Viceroy Drive Suit 800
Dallas, TX 75235
United States

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