Julia Engel, Herbert Bless
The More Negative the More Impact: Evidence From Nationally Representative Data on the Relation Between Domain Satisfactions and General Life Satisfaction

Social Psychology, 2017: 48, issue 3, pp. 148-159
ISSN: 1864-9335 (print); 2151-2590 (online)

The present research investigates the relation between different domain satisfactions (e.g., health, income, etc.) and overall life satisfaction. Based on theorizing on the differences between positive and negative information, we assumed that specific domain satisfactions particularly are correlated with overall life satisfaction when the specific domain satisfactions (a) are low rather than high and (b) have declined rather than increased. Relying on a nationally representative sample of the German population (Socio-Economic Panel), we tested these considerations with both a cross-sectional and a longitudinal design. The findings strongly support that the more negative the domain satisfaction the more pronounced was the relation between domain and overall life satisfaction – both when negativity was assessed relative to other domains as well as when negativity was assessed relative to prior satisfaction with the same domain.