Interest in the experience of well-being, as both a research topic and as a policy goal, has significantly increased in recent decades. Although subjective well-being (SWB)—composed of positive affect, low negative affect, and life satisfaction—is the most commonly used measure of well-being, many experts have argued that another important dimension of wellbeing, often referred to as eudaimonic well-being (EWB), should be measured alongside SWB. EWB, however, has been operationalized in at least 45 different ways, using measures of at least 63 different constructs. These diverse measurement strategies often have little overlap, leading to discrepant results and making the findings of different studies difficult to compare. Building on the Eudaimonic Activity Model, we propose a tripartite conception of well-being, distinguishing between eudaimonic motives/activities, psychological need satisfaction, and SWB, arguing that the needs category provides a parsimonious set of elements at the core of the well-being construct. Based on the self-determination theory claim that all human beings share evolved psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, we show that satisfaction of all three needs directly affect SWB and other health and wellness outcomes, can efficiently explain the effects of various behaviors and conditions upon well-being outcomes, and are universally impactful across cultures. We conclude that routinely measuring psychological needs alongside SWB within national and international surveys would give policymakers a parsimonious way to assess eudaimonic dimensions of wellness and provide powerful mediator variables for explaining how various cultural, economic, and social factors concretely affect citizens’ well-being and health.
The legacy of Russian psychologist Lev Semenovich Vygotsky is most closely associated with the cultural-historical paradigm and, in the West, has found its most extensive application in contemporary developmental and educational psychology. However, Vygotsky’s project was far more ambitious than this perspective implies—in fact, he conceived a new, original program of general psychology that could address human beings in their full measure, foregrounding the human potential for freedom and agency. The distinctive characteristic of Vygotsky’s approach was his profound interdisciplinarity and, specifically, his evolving dialogue with art practices and aesthetics, the scope of which has only become clear with the recent publication of previously unpublished archival material and his writings as an art and literary critic. This article has two aims: to outline a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of Vygotsky’s views on general psychology, on the basis of recent archival discoveries and publications, and attending to these materials closely, to explicate the role that Vygotsky allocated to art in his radical project of creating the “height psychology.”