Signs and Sources of Community
Well-Being
Isaac Prilleltensky
University of Miami
isaacp@miami.edu
http://www.education.miami.edu/isaac
Signs of community well-being: objective and
subjective
Colombia: Happy but Dead
 Highest rate of murders per capita in the world
 Highest number of kidnappings in the world
 Colombia 5181 in 7 years
 Mexico 1269
 Brazil 515
 Venezuela 109
 Severe under reporting
 Colombians report highest level of satisfaction 8.31 (out of 10) in the
world in the 90s
Mountain of Risk
Poor temperament
Poor health
Birth weight
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
No child care
Poor housing
Lack of cohesion
Crime
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Teen parenting
Family size
Stressors
Poor parenting
Addictions
Poor mental health
Poverty
Injustice
Violence
Discrimination
Cake of Well-being
Easy temperament
Physical health
Adequate birth weight
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Child care
Adequate housing
Cohesion
Access to health care
Good parenting
Mutual Support
Good mental healt
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Values, Resources
Programs, Policies
Employment
Justice
Safety nets
Quality educatio
New definition of well-being
Well-being is a positive state of affairs in
individuals, relationships, organizations,
communities, and the natural environment,
brought about by the simultaneous and
balanced satisfaction of material and
psychological needs; and by the promotion
of justice in each one of these ecological
domains.
According to Stokols
“Efforts to promote human well-being
should be based on an understanding of
the dynamic interplay among diverse
environmental and personal factors
rather than on analyses that focus
exclusively on environmental,
biological, or behavioral factors.
(Stokols, 2000, p. 27)”
Ecological, Material, Psychological, Moral
Model of Well-Being
Sites of Well-Being
Individual
Relational
Organizational
Communal
Environmental
Objective
signs
health
networks
resources
social capital
low emissions
Subjective
signs
efficacy
voice
support
belonging
safety
Values
autonomy
caring
participation
diversity
protection of
resources
Justice
My due/our
due
Your
due/our due
Its due/our
due
Their
due/our due
Nature’s due/our
due
The relationship between objective and
subjective measures of well-being
+
+
objective
objective
-
-
Conditions
Well-being
+
+
subjective
subjective
-
-
The Case of Colombia: explaining
the paradox
+
+
objective
objective
crime
-
-
subjective measures
inconsistent with
objective measures
Conditions
+
+
hope
subjective
subjective
-
-
Well-being
The relationship between objective and
subjective measures of well-being
+
+
objective
objective
-
-
Conditions
Well-being
+
+
subjective
subjective
-
-
The Case of Relative Deprivation in
Sweden and UK: How the worst off fare
+
+
objective
objective
-
-
Conditions
Well-being
+
+
subjective
subjective
-
-
Is happiness a genetic phenomenon? Lykken and
Tellegen (1996, Psychological Science).
 In the Minnesota twins study, authors report,
 “Neither socioeconomic status, educational
attainment, family income, marital status, not an
indicant of religious commitment could account
for more than about 3% of the variance in WB”
(in monozygotic twins)
 “We estimate that the heritability of the stable
component of subjective well-being approaches
80%”
Change in life satisfaction over the years
(Inglehart, 2004)
Russia’s happiness and satisfaction
plunges
Seligman’s Authentic Happiness (2002,
pp. 61)
“If you want to lastingly raise your level of
happiness by changing the external
circumstances of your life, you should do
the following:
Live in wealthy democracy, not in an
impoverished dictatorship
Get married
Avoid negative events and negative emotion
Acquire a rich social network
Get religion”
Seligman’s Authentic Happiness (2002,
pp. 61)
“As far as happiness and life satisfaction
are concerned, however, you needn’t
bother to do the following
Make more money
Stay healthy
Get as much education as possible (no effect)
Change your race or move to a sunnier climate
(no effect)”
Seligman concludes….
“Even if you could alter all of these
external circumstances, it would not do
much for you, since together they probably
account for no more than between 8 and
15 percent of the variance in happiness”
(Authentic Happiness, 2002, p. 61).
Really?
Place Matters
Income Matters for Well-Being
Education Matters
How the World Has Changed
www.gapminder.org
 Watch Hans Rosling on global changes at link below
 http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_st
ats_you_ve_ever_seen.html
 Answer the following question
 When families in countries have fewer children, life expectancy increases
 A. True
 B. False
4/13/2015
copyright (c) 2009 Prilleltensky Do not
reproduce without permission
Income is not everything though
Wealth matters for life expectancy
Relative deprivation matters in Sweden
Relative deprivation matters in UK
Clicker question:
Where would you rather live?
A. A country with large inequality but more
opportunities to make lots of money
B. A country with more equality but fewer
opportunities to become very rich
Sources of Community Well-Being:
Childhood Poverty (Evans, 2004)
Low-income children are disproportionately
exposed to:
• sub-optimal physical conditions
• Sub-optimal social conditions
Risk Factors
Personal
Familial
Societal
Protective factors
Personal
Familial
Societal
Resilience
The Physical Environment of Childhood
Poverty
Exposure to toxins (lead, pesticide, air and
noise pollution, etc.)
Unhealthy living conditions (crowding,
structural defects, rodent infestation, etc.)
Home Injuries (scalding water, fewer
smoke-detectors & fire extinguishers, etc.)
Hazardous neighborhoods (crime, poor
infrastructure, abandoned lots, traffic
accidents, etc.)
School conditions (overcrowded, leaky
roofs, inadequate plumbing, etc.)
The Psychosocial Environment of Childhood
Poverty: Family





More family violence, disruption, and separation
More likely to experience parental divorce
More punitive, unresponsive, and harsher parenting
Less parental monitoring
Less cognitive stimulation and enrichment
Quality, quantity, and function of parental speech
Reading by parents, literary activities, other
scaffolding experiences
The Psychosocial Environment of Childhood
Poverty: Beyond the Family
More contact with aggressive peers
Greater instability in peer relationships
Greater dependence on peers versus
parents for social support
Less warmth, responsiveness and
sensitivity in day-care centers
Staff (in child-care centers) speak in more
authoritarian, less cognitively-complex
ways
The Psychosocial Environment of Childhood
Poverty: Neighborhood and Community
Families experience less social support
Less interpersonal trust and norms of
reciprocity in neighborhoods
Less parental involvement in school
activities
Less of a sense of belonging to school
Less likely to have well-qualified teachers
“Although each of these singular
psychosocial and physical risk-factors has
adverse developmental consequences,
exposure to cumulative risks
accompanying poverty may be a key,
unique aspect of the environment of
poverty” (Evans, 2004, p. 88)
Resilience
Individual capabilities, behaviours and
protective processes associated with
health outcomes despite exposure to a
significant number of risks (Unger,
2005, xvi).

 “…daily exposure to an unhealthy and oppressive
work environment will likely spill over to the home
front, just as a board decision to close down an
unprofitable plant could lead to dire consequences
for particular individuals and families. Factors such
as these, however, are rarely taken into
consideration when Johnny’s parents are
summoned to a school conference to discuss his
problem behavior or when a previously happily
married couple experiences a high level of marital
discord” (Prilleltensky, Prilleltensky & Voorhees,
2007).
Sayings such as “love conquers all” are
based on romantic beliefs that “close,
committed, and loving relationships are
impermeable and unsinkable vessels
that can sail through any environmental
storm with impunity” (Berscheid, 2004,
p.31).
Why do we neglect environmental
factors?
Foreground versus background
The fundamental attribution error
Just world phenomenon
Rugged individualism (based on Wright and Lopez, 2002)
Context Minimization Error
“Tendency to ignore the impact of
enduring neighborhood and community
contexts on human behavior. The error
has adverse consequences for
understanding psychological
processes and efforts at social change”
(Shinn and Toohey, 2003, p. 428).
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Happy but Dead Signs of Community Well-Being