Home   Vita   Publications

Tov, W. (2012). Daily experiences and well-being: Do memories of events matter? Cognition and Emotion, 26, 1371-1389.


Retrospective subjective well-being (SWB) refers to self-reported satisfaction and emotional experience over the past few weeks or months. Two studies investigated the mechanisms linking daily experiences to retrospective SWB. Participants reported events each day for 21 days (Study 1) or twice a week for two months (Study 2). The emotional intensity of each event was rated (i) when it had recently occurred (proximal intensity); and (ii) at the end of the event-reporting period (distal intensity). Both sets of ratings were then aggregated across events and used to predict retrospective SWB at the end of the study. Path analyses showed that proximal intensity predicted retrospective SWB whereas distal intensity did not. The effect remained even after controlling for trait happiness and neuroticism. These results suggest that daily experiences influence retrospective SWB primarily through abstract representations of the past few weeks or months (as measured by aggregated proximal intensity ratings) rather than the explicit recollection of individual events during the same period (as measured by aggregated distal intensity ratings). Retrospective SWB, in turn, mediated the effect of daily experiences on global SWB (i.e., self-reported satisfaction and emotional experiences in general).

[Download PDF]