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Understanding short-term variability in life satisfaction: The Individual Differences in Evaluating Life Satisfaction (IDELS) model.

  • Author(s): Willroth, Emily C
  • John, Oliver P
  • Biesanz, Jeremy C
  • Mauss, Iris B
  • et al.
Abstract

Daily life is full of emotional ups and downs. In contrast, the objective conditions of our lives usually remain relatively stable from day to day. The degree to which emotional ups and downs influence life satisfaction-which prima facie should be relatively stable-remains a puzzle. In the present article, we propose the Individual Differences in Evaluating Life Satisfaction (IDELS) model to address this puzzle. The IDELS model posits that people differ in the processes by which they evaluate their life satisfaction: Some people's life satisfaction is more strongly associated with their current emotions (i.e., "emotion globalizing") whereas other people maintain a filter between their life satisfaction and current emotions. These individual differences should have important implications for the degree of short-term variability in life satisfaction and, in turn, for psychological health. In 3 diverse samples of women (total N = 536), we assessed life satisfaction and emotions daily or multiple times per day for 2 weeks. We tested 4 hypotheses derived from the IDELS model. First, participants differed substantially in the degree of short-term variability in life satisfaction, and these individual differences were moderately stable. Second, participants differed substantially in emotion globalizing, and these individual differences were moderately stable. Third, higher emotion globalizing predicted greater short-term variability in life satisfaction. Fourth, greater short-term variability in life satisfaction was associated with a maladaptive profile of greater neuroticism and worse psychological health. We discuss implications for life satisfaction theory and measurement. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

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