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date: 22 May 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The Endowment–Contrast (EC) model was developed to account for the observation that past experiences have a dual effect on current well-being: directly, through an endowment mechanism, and indirectly, through a contrast mechanism. The EC model can be seen as an antidote to simpler approaches to “maximizing happiness.” Happiness is not just about the choices we make, it also reflects how these choices are remembered, represented, and consumed. According to the EC model, life satisfaction is constructed from a combination of the hedonic valence of events (endowments), and the standards against which we evaluate the events (contrasts). The model is different from other adaptation-based models of well-being, and from the related “mood as information” approach. Examples illustrate the application of the EC model to a variety of current trends and controversies in well-being research, and to explain why so many individual choices do not increase life satisfaction.

Keywords: life satisfaction, endowment, contrast, adaptation, mood, hedonic valence, comparison

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