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This chapter focuses on how psychologists understand and measure well-being and the related constructs, mental health and flourishing. For psychologists, well-being is about how people experience their lives, not the objective facts of their lives. Why does well-being matter? Although the instrumental benefits of well-being are frequently cited as the reason for its importance, it is argued here that they are merely a by-product of a high level of well-being. The real reason well-being matters is that well-being is an end in itself – an ultimate good. However, because there is as yet no agreed definition of well-being, there is no universally agreed method for measuring well-being. It is argued here that well-being is a combination of feeling good (the hedonic view) and functioning well (the eudaimonic view), and that in order to advance well-being science, we need a multi-dimensional approach to definition and measurement. Accordingly, at this early stage in the science of well-being, policymakers would be well advised to use measures which encompass a diversity of well-being constructs.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Book Chapter

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