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Testing a computational model of subjective well-being: A preregistered replication of Rutledge et al. (2014)

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Subjective well-being changes over time. While the causes of these changes have been investigated extensively, few attempts have been made to capture these changes through computational modelling. One notable exception is the study by Rutledge et al. [Rutledge, R. B., Skandali, N., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. J. (2014). A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(33), 12252-12257. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1407535111], in which a model that captures momentary changes in subjective well-being was proposed. The model incorporates how an individual processes rewards and punishments in a decision context. Using this model, the authors were able to successfully explain fluctuations in subjective well-being observed in a gambling paradigm. Although Rutledge et al. reported an in-paper replication, a successful independent replication would further increase the credibility of their results. In this paper, we report a preregistered close replication of the behavioural experiment and analyses by Rutledge et al. The results of Rutledge et al. were mostly confirmed, providing further evidence for the role of rewards and punishments in subjective well-being fluctuations. Additionally, the association between personality traits and the way people process rewards and punishments was examined. No evidence for such associations was found, leaving this an open question for future research.
Journal: Cognition & Emotion
ISSN: 0269-9931
Issue: 4
Volume: 35
Pages: 822 - 835