Measuring subjective well-being as a key indicator of national wellness has increasingly become part of the international agenda. Current recommendations for measuring well-being at a national level propose three separate dimensions: evaluative well-being, experiential well-being, and eudaimonia. Whereas the measurement of the first two dimensions is relatively standardized, the third category has remained undertheorized, lacking consensus on how to define and operationalize it. To remedy the situation, we propose that the third dimension should focus on psychological functioning and the identification of key psychological factors humans generally need to live well. A key part of psychological functioning is the satisfaction of basic psychological needs—specific types of satisfying experiences that are essential for psychological health and well-being. Psychological needs as a category provides a parsimonious set of elements with clear inclusion criteria that are strongly anchored in theory and our current understanding of human nature—and could thus form a core part of the third, “eudaimonic” dimension of well-being. The needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness have especially received broad empirical support. Accordingly, national accounts of well-being should include measures for key psychological needs to gain an enriched and practically useful understanding of the well-being of the citizens.
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- eudaimonic well-being
- national indicators of well-being
- psychological functioning
- psychological needs
- self-determination theory
- subjective well-being