How subjective well-being and meaning in life interact in the hostile world?

Amit Shrira, Yuval Palgi, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Dov Shmotkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Two studies examined the interaction between subjective well-being (SWB) and meaning in life (MIL) vis-à-vis self-perceptions of actual or potential threats to one's physical and mental integrity, hereby defined as the hostileworld scenario (HWS). Study 1 (N = 608) showed that the relationship between SWB and MIL strengthened as the HWS increased. Study 2 (Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe; SHARE-Israel; N = 1665) similarly showed that SWB and MIL were strongly linked as lifetime cumulative adversity, the ultimate realization of the HWS, increased. Study 2 further showed that when one construct (whether SWB or MIL) was low, the other construct acted as a moderator of the effect of cumulative adversity on functioning. In conclusion, although SWB and MIL are more strongly linked under adverse circumstances, they are likely to compensate for each other, perhaps due to their unique operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-285
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first wave of the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe was funded by the US National Institute on Aging (no. R21 AG2516901), by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (G.I.F.), and by the National Insurance Institute of Israel. We are grateful to Howard Litwin for facilitating our study with the data.


  • Cumulative adversity
  • Hostile-world scenario
  • Meaning in life
  • SHARE-Israel
  • Subjective well-being


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