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Civic engagement may benefit individuals who engage in it, yet empirical evidence is lacking. We examined whether civic engagement was associated with well-being in a seven-day daily diary study of 276 college students. Based on self-determination theory, we hypothesized that satisfaction of basic psychological needs mediates the link between civic engagement and well-being. Four types of civic engagement – helping, pro-environmental behavior, volunteering, and charitable giving – were examined as separate predictors and as a composite predictor of daily well-being. The composite was associated with higher well-being across days, and basic needs satisfaction had a significant indirect effect on this association. Helping and pro-environmental behavior were linked to daily well-being directly and indirectly through basic needs satisfaction. No effects were evident for volunteering or charitable giving. Results suggest that civic engagement may enhance well-being, although some types of civic engagement may enhance well-being more than others.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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