Don’t be Lazy! Effort as a Pivotal Element for Present and Future Well-being

Arie Sherman, Tal Shavit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The link between effort and individual well-being has been the subject of contentious debate. Economic and some psychological models analyze effort as a cost or a disutility, while other philosophical and psychological theories argue that personal effort is a pivotal element for a flourishing life. These theories also distinguish between higher and lower pleasures. To assess the contested contribution of effort to personal well-being, we analyze survey data gathered from 1954 working adults aged 25 to 65 in Israel. We analyze their subjective assessments of the effort they exert in different life domains and support the validity of our analysis by comparing them to choice scenarios in each domain. The results contribute three key findings: 1. Effort in five life domains—work, leisure activities, friendship, community and health—as well as effort of managing work life balance, was found to be positively associated with at least one component of subjective well-being, while effort to make work more intrinsically rewarding was found to be associated with all three components—affect, cognition and meaning—of an individual’s subjective well-being. 2. These efforts are not strongly correlated among themselves, implying that people can choose how to allocate their efforts among the various life domains. 3. People’s assessments of their future subjective well-being are positively correlated with their expectations regarding future effort. These results suggest that effort and well-being are correlated through hedonic capital accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2599-2625
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Effort
  • Hedonic capital
  • Subjective well-being
  • Work life balance
  • Work per se


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