ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (1): 40-53.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00040

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The causal mechanism between envy and subjective well-being: Based on a longitudinal study and a diary method

XIANG Yanhui(), HE Jiali, LI Qingyin   

  1. Department of Psychology, Hunan Normal University, Cognition and Human Behavior Key Laboratory of Hunan Province, Key Laboratory of Big Data for Basic Education, Changsha 410081, China
  • Received:2021-01-13 Published:2022-01-25 Online:2021-11-26
  • Contact: XIANG Yanhui
  • Supported by:
    general program of National Social Science Foundation of China(19BSH114)


The pursuit of happiness is the eternal theme of mankind. Although there are many factors that affect happiness, social comparison is the most common one. Based on the perspective of social comparison theory, this paper explores the causal mechanism of envy and well-being, which are the typical emotions in upward social comparison, and establishes the theoretical model of envy and general SWB (Subjective Well-being) factor for the first time. In Study 1, 290 participants were followed twice (T1 and T2) for one year to explore the relationship between trait envy and the subjective well-being bi-factor model. The results showed that: (1) T1 trait envy significantly positively predicted the Negative Affect (NA) and SWB factor of T2, and negatively predicted the Positive Affect (PA) and Life Satisfaction (LS) of T2; (2) the general SWB factor of T1 negatively predicted the trait envy of T2. In Study 2, a further 14 days diary study of 178 participants found that daily envy was only a positive predictor of NA in subjective well-being. Based on the theory of social comparison, the complex causal mechanism between envy and subjective well-being (PA, NA and LS) is revealed in a multi-methodological perspective for the first time. What’s more, it also puts forward the circulation model of envy and general SWB Factor for the first time, which provides a new way to expand, understand, and reappraise the social foundation of SWB from the perspective of social comparison theory.

Key words: envy, subjective well-being, bi-factor model, longitudinal study, diary method