Personal Strivings, Daily Life Events, and Psychological and Physical Well-Being


  • I would like to thank Howard Tennen and three anonymous reviewers for their very constructive criticisms on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert A. Emmons, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.


ABSTRACT Interactional models of life events and personality posit domains of vulnerability within which individuals are most likely to be affected by negative life events. A variation of this model was tested in a study of the separate as well as interactive effects of daily life events and personal strivings on psychological and physical well-being. Subjects listed 15 of their personal strivings, which were later categorized as reflecting either achievement, affiliation, intimacy, or power. For 21 consecutive days, subjects recorded up to eight events that most influenced their moods each day, and completed mood and physical symptom checklists. Power strivings were negatively correlated with well-being. Affiliation strivings were correlated with positive affect. No significant between-subject interactions occurred between strivings and events. However, within-subject analyses revealed several significant effects. Achievement-oriented individuals tended to be affected by good achievement events; similarly, the moods of affiliation- and intimacy-oriented individuals were affected by interpersonal events. Results are interpreted within a transactional framework, and implications for research on personality, life events, and well-being are discussed.