Subjective well‐being in times of social change: Congruence of control strategies and perceived control

Authors:
Sebastian Grümer, Rainer K. Silbereisen, Jutta Heckhausen
Published Online:
05 Feb 2014
DOI:
10.1080/00207594.2012.744839
Pages:
1267–1283
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 6

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This paper investigates the association between perceptions of broader changes in the social‐ecological context and individuals’ subjective well‐being (SWB). Macro‐level societal changes such as globalization or demographic change give rise to new demands for individual functioning at work and/or in the family. Such new demands associated with social change are stressful and likely to be related to lower levels of SWB. Being active agents, individuals attempt to deal with social change and its increasing demands to protect their SWB. The present study investigates which kinds of control strategies are most effective in protecting one's SWB. Specifically, we predicted that control strategies of goal engagement will be most effective under conditions of perceived high control, and control strategies of goal disengagement will be most effective under conditions of perceived low control. In a large sample of 2537 German adults, work‐ and family‐related demands associated with social change were found to be negatively linked to SWB. Moreover and in line with the motivational theory of lifespan development, control strategies of goal engagement and disengagement were beneficial for SWB to the extent that they matched the perceived control of the demands associated with social change.

© 2013 International Union of Psychological Science