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Maike Luhmann

Maike Luhmann

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My research broadly focuses on the predictors and consequences of changes in subjective well-being (SWB). SWB is a broad construct comprising affective and cognitive components (Diener, 1984). Affective well-being refers to the frequency and intensity of positive and negative affect (e.g., mood, emotions), whereas cognitive well-being refers to how people evaluate certain aspects of their lives (e.g., marital satisfaction, job satisfaction) or their life in general (life satisfaction). In my research, I am interested in the structure of SWB, the effects of life events on SWB, and the behavioral consequences of SWB.

Structure of SWB
Affective and cognitive well-being are often treated interchangeably; however, my research suggests that despite their strong intercorrelations, these components are distinct constructs that are differentially related to and affected by external life circumstances and other predictors of SWB (e.g., Luhmann, Hofmann, Eid, & Lucas, 2012; Luhmann, Schimmack, & Eid, 2011). Specifically, affective well-being seems to reflect people’s recent events and activities whereas cognitive well-being seems to reflect people’s general views of their current life circumstances (Luhmann, Hawkley, Eid, & Cacioppo, 2012). An important implication of these findings is that both affective and cognitive well-being should be included in studies of SWB and be analyzed separately.

Life events and well-being
In a related line of research, I investigate the effects of major life events (e.g., unemployment, divorce, marriage, retirement) on different indicators of well-being. Most events do not have any effects on SWB that last more than a couple of years (e.g., Luhmann, Hofmann, et al., 2012), with one important exception. People do not adapt well to unemployment. Moreover, those who become unemployed repeatedly over the course of several years may enter a true downward spiral where their life satisfaction decreases further and further with each new unemployment spell (Luhmann & Eid, 2009). Interesting research questions in this context are: Why is the effect of unemployment on life satisfaction so much worse than the effects of other negative events such as widowhood or divorce? What are some of the moderators of adaptation to these events, for instance, social relationships, personality, or other life circumstances?

Consequences of SWB
My most recent line of research concerns the consequences of life satisfaction. People high in life satisfaction are less likely than people low in life satisfaction to lose their job, change jobs, relocate, or separate from their partner in the following years (Luhmann, Lucas, Eid, & Diener, 2012). There are several possible mechanisms that might account for these effects. First, life satisfaction tends to be quite stable over time. A certain level of life satisfaction might predispose people to experience certain life outcomes. Second, people might anticipate the event (e.g., they already know that their job is in peril) and therefore react to the event before it “officially” occurs. Finally, the event might be a direct consequence of low life satisfaction. People who are not satisfied with their lives might be more likely to seek a new job or move to a new location than people who like the way their lives are going. My research aims at disentangling these different mechanisms and investigating under which circumstances and in which ways people’s current levels of life satisfaction motivate them to change important things in their lives.

Primary Interests:

  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Life Satisfaction, Well-Being
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Research Methods, Assessment

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Journal Articles:

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Multilevel Modeling
  • Analyzing Longitudinal Data with Multilevel Models
  • Computer-Based Data Analysis
  • Data Analysis with R
  • Introduction to Multilevel Modeling
  • Multilevel Analysis with HLM
  • Multiple Regression: Theory and Practical Implementation
  • Reading and Evaluating Empirical Articles
  • Statistical Methods in Behavioral Science
  • Structural Equation Modeling

Maike Luhmann
University of Cologne
Department of Psychology
Herbert-Lewin-Str. 2
50931 Cologne

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