Social needs and happiness: A life course perspective

Vera L. Buijs*, Bertus F. Jeronimus, Gerine M. A. Lodder, Nardi Steverink, Peter de Jonge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


Both the fulfilment of affection, status, and behavioral confirmation needs and their role in happiness may differ along the adult lifespan. We examined age-graded differences in (a) the fulfilment of the need for affection, status, and behavioral confirmation, (b) disharmonious profiles of need fulfillment (e.g., high affection but low status), and (c) the associations between these needs and happiness. Data from 11,406 Dutch respondents (age range 18–87 (M = 44.82, SD = 14.62), 67% female) were collected via and categorized over six age groups (early, young, middle-aged and late adults, young-old and oldest-old). Age-graded differences in social need fulfilment and their link to happiness were examined using regression analyses. Need fulfillment profiles were identified with LCA cluster analyses. Age-graded differences in social need fulfilment were virtually absent (Cohen’s d = 0.20 or smaller) and their link with happiness was stable across the age groups. Social need fulfilment profiles were harmonious as people reported either low, middle, or high need fulfilment in general, irrespective of age. The idea that different social needs are more important in different phases of adult life received only weak support in our data. No strategic investment in specific social needs was observed (no substitution-effects).People typically differed in their capacities to fulfil their affection, status, and behavioral confirmation needs in general, regardless of age. The implications of these results for the social production function theory of wellbeing and socioemotional selectivity theory are outlined in the discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1978
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Subjective well-being
  • Happiness
  • Adulthood
  • Social needs
  • Social production function theory
  • Socioemotional selectivity theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Social needs and happiness: A life course perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this