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Subjective well-being (SWB) refers to how people experience the quality of their lives and includes both emotional reactions and cognitive judgments. Psychologists have defined happiness as a combination of life satisfaction and the relative frequency of positive and negative affect. SWB therefore encompasses moods and emotions as well as evaluations of one's satisfaction with general and specific areas of one's life. Concepts encompassed by SWB include positive and negative affect, happiness, and life satisfaction. Positive psychology is particularly concerned with the study of SWB. SWB tends to be stable over time and is strongly related to personality traits. There is evidence that health and SWB may mutually influence each other, as good health tends to be associated with greater happiness, and a number of studies have found that positive emotions and optimism can have a beneficial influence on health.
Diener et al. argued that the various components of SWB represent distinct constructs that need to be understood separately, even though they are closely related. Hence, SWB may be considered "a general area of scientific interest rather than a single specific construct". Due to the specific focus on the subjective aspects of well-being, definitions of SWB typically exclude objective conditions such as material conditions or health, although these can influence ratings of SWB. Definitions of SWB therefore focus on how a person evaluates his/her own life, including emotional experiences of pleasure versus pain in response to specific events and cognitive evaluations of what a person considers a good life. Components of SWB relating to affect include positive affect (experiencing pleasant emotions and moods) and low negative affect (experiencing unpleasant, distressing emotions and moods), as well as "overall affect" or "hedonic balance", defined as the overall equilibrium between positive and negative affect, and usually measured as the difference between the two. High positive affect and low negative affect are often highly correlated, but not always.
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