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Psicologia, Saúde & Doenças

Print version ISSN 1645-0086


GALINHA, Iolanda  and  RIBEIRO, J.L. Pais. History and Evolution of the Concept of Subjective Well-Being. Psic., Saúde & Doenças [online]. 2005, vol.6, n.2, pp.203-214. ISSN 1645-0086.

The article is a literature revision aiming to describe the historical-political movements that influenced the development of the Subjective Well-Being concept. The concept stands in an intersection point of several Psychology fields: Social Psychology; Health Psychology; and Clinical Psychology. The history of the concept, analysed by some of the main researchers in the field points out distinct historical inheritances, related with the convergence of distinct theoretical origins. A first inheritance is the social movements inspired in the Illuminist and Utilitarian Creed, which stimulated scientific research in the area of the Quality of Life. A second inheritance, is related with developments in the Health field, pointedly, the 2nd Health Revolution, in 70's decade, whose main principles consisted on defending the return to an ecological perspective in Health and changing the focus of the questions from the Illness to Health. Recently, Clinical Psychology embraces the concept of Subjective Well-Being in the context of the so called Positive Psychology. Each of the socio-politics inheritances contributed for the promotion of the research on the concept of Subjective Well-being, in its several facets and applications. Simultaneously, the concept of Subjective Well-Being developed from diffuse limits through two critical moments in the definition of the construct: the distinction Material Well-being versus Global Well-Being; and the distinction Psychological Well-Being versus Subjective Well-Being. Subjective Well-Being is defined, based on several definitions from the main researchers in the field and we can observe some consensus in the recognition of a cognitive dimension and an affective dimension. These dimensions constitute themselves broad concepts, even research domains - the Quality of Life and Affect. We extended the definition of Subjective Well-Being, as a research field, to the scientific criteria established by investigators of the field.

Keywords : Development; Definition; History; Subjective well-being.

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