Motivated Happiness: Self-Enhancement Inflates Self-Reported Subjective Well-Being

Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. Motivated happiness: Self-enhancement inflates self-reported subjective well-being. Social Psychological and Personality Science, Forthcoming

29 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2014

See all articles by Sean P. Wojcik

Sean P. Wojcik

University of California, Irvine

Peter H. Ditto

University of California, Irvine - School of Social Ecology

Date Written: April 2, 2014

Abstract

Three studies support the contention that self-enhancement motivation distorts self-reports of subjective well-being. Both individual differences in self-enhancement (Studies 1 & 2) and experimental manipulations of self-enhancement motivation (Study 2) predicted an increased likelihood of reporting subjective well-being at unrealistically favorable levels relative to others – a “happier-than-average effect”. Studies 3a and 3b showed that both trait self-enhancement and experimentally manipulated differences in self-enhancement motivation also affected self-reports on established measures of subjective well-being. Specifically, individuals prone to self- enhancement were more affected than low self-enhancers by the desirability of happiness when reporting subjective well-being. The current studies suggest that reports of subjective well-being are susceptible to the same self-enhancement biases that influence self-reports of other positively valued traits. Implications and recommendations for the measurement of subjective well-being and the use of well-being data in policy decision-making are discussed.

Keywords: Well-being, self-evaluation, self-presentation, social comparison, judgment and decision making

Suggested Citation

Wojcik, Sean P. and Ditto, Peter H., Motivated Happiness: Self-Enhancement Inflates Self-Reported Subjective Well-Being (April 2, 2014). Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. Motivated happiness: Self-enhancement inflates self-reported subjective well-being. Social Psychological and Personality Science, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2421000

Sean P. Wojcik (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Peter H. Ditto

University of California, Irvine - School of Social Ecology ( email )

226B Social Ecology 1
Irvine, CA 92697
United States

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