Is feeling "in control" related to happiness in daily life?

Psychol Rep. 1989 Jun;64(3 Pt 1):775-84. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1989.64.3.775.


This research concerns the relation of subjective control and happiness within normal daily experience. Respondents from several nonclinical samples rated their feelings of control at randomly-selected moments during a week in their lives, following the procedures of the Experience Sampling Method. Analyses consider the relation of these ratings to similar ratings of affective states, first, within persons and, second, between persons. The within-person analyses show relatively little moment-to-moment correlation of subjective control and affective states. For many persons there is no correlation at all and on the average people report feeling only slightly more happy at times when feeling in control. The between-persons analyses yield findings that are more in line with explanations of subject control, showing that individuals reporting higher average daily control also experience greater average happiness. The results confirm that a generalized sense of control is important to well being in daily life, but for nondisturbed individuals short-term experiences of discontrol are not accompanied by substantial distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged