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Shell and Core Model of Subjective Well-Being: Extending the Reach of Happiness beyond the Field of Positive Psychology

Author(s): Ashkan Farhadi

Background: There is a significant role for mind in health and disease. Subjective Well-being (SWB) is an important indicator of a person’s psychological status beyond the traditional anxiety and depression. Shell and Core (S&C) model of SWB is new modular framework that has placeholders for various forms of positive feeling that can be adopted as an assessment tool in clinical settings.

Method: 416 subjects recruited using social media platforms to complete an anonymous online survey probing into their demographic information, financial status, several well-being attributes, and personality traits. The obtained information was analyzed and the factors that most closely correlated with the sense of overall SWB were included in the model.

Results: Overall, 73% of the subjects indicated that they are happy and the overall sense of SWB did not depend on gender or household income. Only those psychological traits with significant correlation with SWB were used to construct the proposed S&C model. The model comprises three main components-the shell of happiness that represents experiential happiness, i.e., positive feelings as a result of one’s experiences with their environment. The core of happiness represents inner happiness. The interface layer, between the shell and core of happiness consists of a set of coping and defense mechanisms that protects the core of happiness denoted as a Happiness Suit of Armor (HSOA).

Conclusion: The S&C model is a comprehensive model of SWB that is used as a framework to capture various aspects of happiness under a unifying umbrella. It can thus be used as an assessment tools at both personal and population level. It could also be adopted to identify the personality traits and coping mechanisms that are important for the overall sense of well-being, which could then be targeted as a part of psychological interventions aimed at individuals with different medical conditions.

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