Toward an Understanding of the Relationship Between Subjective Wellbeing and Eudaimonic Wellbeing Indicators in Adolescence

  • Abigail Mottershaw

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Subjective wellbeing and eudaimonic wellbeing collectively assess wellbeing as an overarching construct. Yet investigation into the relationship between subjective wellbeing and diverse eudaimonic wellbeing indicators has so far been limited to a few studies with few eudaimonic wellbeing indicators. Little is known about how subjective wellbeing and eudaimonic wellbeing are related in adolescence, which is a critical developmental stage. I explored the relationship between subjective wellbeing and a diverse range of positive traits to capture eudaimonic wellbeing, including: the basic psychological needs, gratitude, optimism, trust, meaning in life, hopefulness, ambition, grit, curiosity and subjective health. I aimed to understand which positive traits were best considered as components of wellbeing and which traits were correlates of wellbeing, and identify the general and specific effects across subjective and eudaimonic wellbeing indicators.

I applied multivariate genetic analyses combined with principle components analysis to understand the aetiological relationship between subjective wellbeing and diverse eudaimonic wellbeing indicators in adolescence. My findings suggest that wellbeing was best characterised as an overarching construct with components of subjective wellbeing and eudaimonic wellbeing indicators, which largely share genetic influences. I also identified the positive traits that were best considered correlates, rather than components of wellbeing, reinforcing the need for a clear definition of wellbeing.

First using monozygotic twin analyses and second by measuring aspects of the physical environment, I also demonstrated that there are multiple environmental influences on subjective and eudaimonic wellbeing in adolescence. It is likely there are many environmental influences on subjective wellbeing and eudaimonic wellbeing, each with small effects in the same way there are multiple genetic influences with small effects, but together can explain substantial proportions of variance. In this genomic era, we will benefit from more investigation of environmental exposures to explain more of the missing heritability and the missing environmentality of behavioural traits.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorClaire M A Haworth (Supervisor)

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