Inspiration and the promotion of well-being: tests of causality and mediation

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Mar;98(3):488-506. doi: 10.1037/a0017906.


The influence of inspiration on well-being was examined in 4 studies. In Study 1, experimental manipulation of exposure to extraordinary competence increased positive affect, and inspiration accounted for this effect. In Study 2, trait inspiration predicted an increase in positive hedonic and eudaimonic well-being variables (positive affect, life satisfaction, vitality, and self-actualization) across a 3-month period, even when the Big 5 traits, initial levels of all well-being variables, and social desirability biases were controlled. In Study 3, both trait inspiration and personal goals inspiration predicted increases in positive well-being variables across a 3-month period. In contrast, well-being did not predict longitudinal change in inspiration. Study 4, a diary study, extended the relation between inspiration and well-being to the within-person level of analysis. For given individuals, variations in inspiration across mornings predicted variations in evening levels of positive well-being variables. These effects were mediated by purpose in life and gratitude. These studies provide converging evidence that inspiration enhances well-being and document 2 parallel mediating processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Desirability*