Psychological well being is a subjective term that means different
things to different people. From all of the research I've done for
this answer the terms is used throughout the health industry as kind
of a catch-all phrase meaning contentment, satisfaction with all
elements of life, self-actualization (a feeling of having achieved
something with one's life), peace, and happiness.
While the above characteristics are goals to strive toward, it is
rather unrealistic for a person to feel all of these elements at the
same time. Thus most of the articles I've read seem to refer to a
person with "psychological well-being" as a happy, satisfied person.
While this seems to be a rather non-technical definition, it seems to
fit every instance I've been able to find.
I found a great deal of information on psychological well-being in the
work place. There are literally dozens of documented factors that
affect a person's psychological well-being at work. To summarize my
readings, these include:
1. Feeling of accomplishment
2. Feeling of using one's abilities to the fullest
3. Recognition of work by superiors
4. Recognition of work by peers
5. Promotion opportunities
Surprisingly, money is not nearly the most important job "satisfier"
(motivator). However pay that is considered to be too low by the
employee can become a "dissatisfier" (demotivator). In other words,
getting paid what one deserves seldom motivates a person to work
harder. However getting paid less than one feels s/he deserves can
demotivate that same person.
There are many, many factors that contribute to a person's
psychological well-being. One element that muddys the waters for this
research is that this well-being is defined differently for each
person. So it is very difficult to provide a definitive list of
traits. This is an inexact science.
For example, I read a research report at the following website:
says " Being the main breadwinner still seems to carry an important
distinction for husbands and their sense of well-being, says a Penn
State researcher. In reacting to increases in their wives' percentage
contribution to overall family income, men appear to experience
declines in well-being as measured by their reports of depressed
feelings, varying levels of life satisfaction and physical symptoms
such as headaches, says Dr. Stacy J. Rogers, assistant professor of
sociology and human development and family studies."
Social Science & Medicine Journal recently published a research
article in which the researchers studied men who worked as nurses, and
women who worked as accountants to determine their psychological
According to the study, "The results suggest that when men and women
occupy jobs in which they are in the cultural and numerical minority,
there may be adverse health effects that are gender-specific.
Psychological traits related to socially constructed gender roles may
also be relevant, and mediate in part the differences in psychological
well-being between men and women."
What all that means is that when a person works in an environment
historically dominated by the other sex, s/he may be under increased
stress and experience reduced health. It also says that there are
intrinsic differences between the psychological well being between men
A study in the Journal of Gerontology studied recently retired people.
The bottom line is that retirement provides a sense of psychological
well-being in the short term. However when longer times are
considered, retirement does not provide a sense of purpose and
psychological well-being goes down rather quickly after the first few
months of retirement. The implication is that we all need a purpose in
our lives to be "happy". The employee needs to feel that s/he has a
purpose and fills a need in the company machinery before s/he can feel
I've really just touched the tip of the iceberg. If you'd like more
research on a specific component of psychological well-being just
leave a comment and I'll go back to work! Hope this helps.
Social Science & Medicine Journal (Feb 15, 2002 v54 i4
p481(12)entitled "The contribution of gender-role orientation, work
factors and home stressors to psychological well-being and sickness
absence in male- and female-dominated occupational groups."
Jungmeen E. Kim, Phyllis Moen. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B.
May 2002 v57 i3 pP212(11)