Magazine 2015
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Cicilia Chettiar  
The scientific study of well being occurred as a reaction to the emphasis on negative states. The history  
of research in psychology is defined by the amount of funding that was available and only those conditions  
that were most lucrative received a lot of research attention. Over time, the focus shifted to healthy states  
of being. An alternative model of study developed which provided a more adaptive contrast to all the  
maladjustment based studies.  
It required the definition of variables essential to the study of healthy states of being. The condition of  
well-being came to be most often studied under various terms like happiness, life-satisfaction, quality  
of life etc. Although all these terms do not mean the same things, they reflect an urge to study what is  
good and right in human nature. Well being is most often considered similar to happiness.  
Subjective Well-Being (SWB) is a broad category of phenomena that includes people’s emotional  
responses, domain satisfactions, and global judgments of life satisfactions (Diener, Suh, Lucas, Smith,  
999). Researchers study the entire range of emotions from misery to elation, understanding that  
people move towards positivity and don’t just avoid negativity.  
There are various predictors of SWB and of these, the role of intrinsic motivation has already been  
studied by researchers (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Since SWB includes emotional aspects, it seems obvious  
that motivation is also a key ingredient in the study of SWB. There are certain goals that individuals  
appear motivated to move towards or move away from. The nature of motivational state determines the  
goals. Research on goal states talks about how the beneficial effects of intrinsic goals and the materialistic  
nature of intrinsic goals.  
Assuming that extrinsic goals have their roots in external factors, it seems evident that extrinsic goals  
create an element of uncontrollability which is an unpleasant state for most individuals. Intrinsic goals  
on the other hand have a clear purpose that emanates from within the individual. The nature of intrinsic  
goals causes an individual to indulge in those activities which act to bring happiness of the more  
lasting kinds. Happiness and therefore SWB attaches itself intuitively to intrinsic goals rather than  
extrinsic goals.  
Intrinsic goals are considered to be determined by intrinsic motivation. IM has been defined as  
performing actions out of interest, pleasure and enjoyment (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Although this could  
include any number of activities, it seems preferable to qualify the activities based on the effort invested  
in them. Watching television and going for a hike could both be interesting and pleasurable, but a hike  
requires a lot more effort and therefore going for a hike could be considered more likely a product of  
IM than watching television.  
The current study proposes to understand the relation between SWB, IM and IG in an effort to identify  
predictors that can be applied to life. It hypothesizes that both IM and IG will predict SWB.  
The study follows a survey design and sample is collected from an urban population. A purposive  
sampling strategy is used to match the participants for various demographics like age, educational  
background and socio-economic status. The total sample size is 474 participants. The sample is part of  
a larger cross-cultural study.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
The Aspiration Index (Kasser, Ryan, 1993) was used to identify the strength of the intrinsic goals (IG). The  
goals fall under the categories of Personal Growth, Relationships, Community and Health. The participants  
rate items which reflect the significance that each of these goals have in their lives. There are 35 statements  
that assess intrinsic and extrinsic goal significance. For the purposes of this study, only the scores  
relating to the intrinsic goals were considered.  
Intrinsic Motivation (IM) was assessed using the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (Ryan, 1982). The instrument  
assesses participants’ interest/enjoyment, perceived competence, effort, value/usefulness, felt pressure  
and tension, and perceived choice while performing a given activity, thus yielding six subscale scores  
using 22 items.  
Well being is assessed using the Subjective Well Being Inventory (Sell & Nagpal, 1992). This scale has  
been standardised on the Indian population and has a measure of both positive and negative well  
being. For the purpose of this study, only the positive component was utilised.  
All scales were found to have adequate psychometric properties.  
Statistical Analyses  
Multiple Regression Analysis was conducted on the data to identify the power of prediction for SWB.  
The prediction was first carried out for the entire data and then for males and females separately. This  
was done to understand whether there is a gender difference in the predictive ability of IM and IG.  
Results and Discussion  
The tables discuss the findings. Table 1 indicates the mean age and SD for all participants. Since all  
participants are in their early thirties, it can be assumed that they have had a fairly decent exposure to  
life experiences and can appropriately answer the questions asked on the scales. The mean age of the  
female participants was 33.8 years, SD = 11.74, for males it was 34.6 years, SD = 12.00. The overall  
group mean age was 34.04, SD = 11.87.  
Table 1 Showing mean scores obtained by the participants on the different scales.  
A casual look at the scale shows that the mean scores do not show very vast differences between  
males and females. However since gender comparison was not the aim of the study, this finding was  
not explored further.  
The first step in a regression is to compute a correlation table. Table 2 indicating the correlations  
shows that the importance given to intrinsic goals and intrinsic motivation are both positively correlated  
with well being at .002 and .000 respectively.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Table 2: Showing correlations between PWB, Intrinsic Goals and Intrinsic Motivation  
Tables 3 and 4 attempt to decode the predictive relationship between the three variables in males and  
females separately. A constant was included in the equation and a hierarchical regression model was  
computed using SPSS. The standardized beta values are considered in order to equate the  
measurement units in all the scales. Result indicates how for both males and females, IM is more  
predictive of SWB than IG. In males, using the enter method it was found that IM explains a significant  
amount of the variation in SWB (F (2,227) = 10.51, p<.01, R =.085, Ä R =.077). In females, using the  
enter method it was found that IM explains a significant amount of variation in SWB (F (2,240) = 11.40,  
p<.01, R =.087, Ä R =.079). In both groups, the additional variation explained by IG was found to be  
marginal. In males the Ä R was found to be .017 and was significant at p<0.05 (0.041). In females IG  
was non-significant.  
Table 3 Showing the coefficients of the regression equation for females  
Table 4 Showing the coefficients of the regression equation for males  
A central tenet of most economies is that individuals respond to rewards and are afraid of punishments  
Deci, Cascio, 1972). This school of thought has affected psychology and consequently the study of  
motivation. Although motivation studies are not recent, however at one point they slowly took a backseat.  
Now with the increasing interest in personal growth, well being and other non-material aspirations, the  
study of motivation has received a tremendous boost. The elucidation of theories like the Self-  
determination theories has generated a lot of interest in identifying factors that guide one towards  
personal well being.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Well being studies have largely relied on survey data to understand and clarify it’s impact. Internationally  
and nationally, well being studies throw up almost similar results. The present study has been conducted  
on an Indian population. Participants belong to one of two subcultures – Tamil and Keralite. Although  
this is not a cross-cultural comparison, it is worth considering that a between cultures comparison  
showed statistically significant difference. This leads us to an understanding of the obtained results.  
An examination of the results of the present study indicates that there is a difference in the attainment of  
SWB between men and women. Whereas men can experience a sense of WB through the importance  
given to intrinsic goals, for women the same does not hold true. Women find that their WB is enhanced  
only when they are intrinsically motivated. In both groups, IM is a more significant predictor of WB than  
IG significance.  
Intrinsic goals as measured by the Aspiration Index used in this particular study considered the following  
goals: Personal Growth, Relationships, Community and Health. Although some may consider health to  
be an extrinsic goal, a study by Michael Raj and Chettiar (2012) irrefutably placed health in the intrinsic  
goal category by carrying out a factor analysis. Hence, studying health as an intrinsic goal is valid. The  
results can be generalized to the normal population as the Adjusted R value is within acceptable limits.  
SWB is multi-causal and these are just two of their indicators. Although in men we find that IG significance  
can impact their WB, it also shows that the extent of the impact is far smaller than that caused by IM.  
There is also the consideration that the motivation is more important than the goal. It is always possible  
to be intrinsically motivated for extrinsic goals. This circularity has not been addressed in the present  
Long term application of this study could be to enable individuals to pursue activities that they are  
intrinsically motivated towards. Although this seems a Utopian goal, due to practical reasons, it is  
definitely worth working towards. Government policies aimed towards encouraging individuals in pursuit  
of goals which are intrinsically significant may not lead to as much increase in well being as teaching  
individuals how to identify their innermost motives and work towards attaining them. The current  
emphasis on extrinsic motivation, where individuals align themselves to socially required motives may  
not be the ideal path to well being.  
The study being based on self-report is susceptible to the usual errors caused due to social desirability.  
The limitation to two particular sub-cultures disallows generalization to other cultural populations. The  
research should be extended to all groups and results should be verified.  
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York:  
Plenum Press.  
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-  
determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, pp. 227-268.  
Deci, E. L, & Cascio, W. F. (1972, April). Changes in intrinsic motivation as a function of negative feedback  
and threats. Paper presented at the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.  
Diener, E., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological  
Science in the Public Interest, 5. pp. 1–31.  
Diener, E., Suh, E.M., Lucas, R.E. & Smith, H.L. (1999). Subjective Well Being: Three Decades of Progress.  
Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 125.(2). pp. 276-302.  
Raj, M.J. & Chettiar, C. (2012) Need Satisfaction, Goal Content and Subjective Well Being. Indian Journal  
of Positive Psychology. Vol. 3 (1). pp. 10-13.  
Dr. Cicilia Chettiar, Asst. Professor & Head, Dept. of Psychology, Maniben Nanavati Women’s College,