Does Career Success Make You Happy? The Mediating Role of Multiple Subjective Success Evaluations

Abele, Andrea E.; Hagmaier, Tamara; Spurk, Daniel (2016). Does Career Success Make You Happy? The Mediating Role of Multiple Subjective Success Evaluations. Journal of happiness studies, 17(4), pp. 1615-1633. Springer 10.1007/s10902-015-9662-4

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We hypothesize that career success assessed as objective career achievements (income and responsibility status) has an indirect positive association with life satisfaction that is channeled through multiple subjective success evaluations. These are based on (a) social comparisons (comparison with others, other-referent success evaluation) and (b) individual standards (satisfaction with career achievements, self-referent success evaluations). We tested our reasoning in a 2-year prospective study with N = 990 pro- fessionals. Controlling for gender, family status, and workload, the results of two medi- ation models that draw on all information from two measurement points supported our reasoning. We found indirect positive associations between career success and life satis- faction (H1) channeled through both other-referent (H2) and self-referent (H3) subjective success evaluation. In both mediation models, we found partial mediation, and the remaining direct path from career success to life satisfaction was negative. We conclude that career success has mixed effects on a person’s life satisfaction: The net effect of positive indirect and negative direct effects is positive, but not large. We discuss the significance of these findings for theorizing about the influence of the work domain on life satisfaction as well as for conceptual issues in the analysis of mediators and moderators of the career success life satisfaction association.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Work and Organisational Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Spurk, Daniel


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology








Daniel Michael Spurk

Date Deposited:

28 Aug 2018 13:47

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 19:48

Publisher DOI:





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