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Re-Examining Adaptation and the Setpoint Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status

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Listed:
  • Richard E. Lucas
  • Andrew Clark
  • Yannis Georgellis
  • Ed Diener

Abstract

According to adaptation theory, individuals react to events, but quickly adapt back to baseline levels of subjective well-being. To test this idea, the authors use data from a 15-year longitudinal study of over 30 000 individuals to examine the effects of marital transitions on life satisfaction. On average, individuals reacted to events and then adapted back towards baseline levels. However, there were substantial individual differences in this tendency. Individuals who initially reacted strongly were still far from baseline years later, and many people exhibited trajectories that were in the opposite direction to that predicted by adaptation theory. Thus, marital transitions can be associated with long-lasting changes in satisfaction, but these changes can be overlooked when only average trends are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard E. Lucas & Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Ed Diener, 2002. "Re-Examining Adaptation and the Setpoint Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status," DELTA Working Papers 2002-08, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  • Handle: RePEc:del:abcdef:2002-08
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