Day Reconstruction Method

Short Description: Experiential measures of subjective well-being assess affective reactions over time, either by sampling experiences as they happen or by retrospectively recreating experiences soon after they occur. In this module, respondents reconstruct a full day, describing what they did, who they were with, and how they felt throughout the day.

Methodological Details: For the DRM portion of the survey, the participants were first asked to reconstruct their previous day by breaking it up into episodes. For each episode they specified starting and ending times, what they were doing, and whether the episode was pleasant or not pleasant. From this pool of episodes, three were randomly selected for detailed assessment. In particular, participants rated where they were (at home, at work, or somewhere else), who they were with, and how they felt. For the three selected episodes, participants rated how strongly they experienced each of the following on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much): happiness, anger, frustration, fatigue, mourning, worries, pain, enthusiasm, satisfaction, boredom, loneliness, stress, and a deeper meaning.

Available Papers:

  • Anusic, Ivana, Richard E. Lucas, and M. Brent Donnellan. 2017. The Validity of the Day Reconstruction Method in the German Socio-economic Panel Study. Social Indicators Research 130 (1), 213-232. (;

  • Hudson, Nathan W., Richard E. Lucas, and M. Brent Donnellan. 2016. Getting Older, Feeling Less? A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Investigation of Developmental Patterns in Experiential Well-Being. Psychology and Aging 31 (8), 847-861. ( );

  • Hudson, Nathan W., Richard E. Lucas, and M. Brent Donnellan. 2017. Day-To-Day Affect is Surprisingly Stable: A 2-Year Longitudinal Study of Well-Being. Social Psychological and Personality Science 8 (1), 45-54. (;

  • Hudson, Nathan W., Richard E. Lucas, and M. Brent Donnellan. 2019. Healthier and Happier? A 3-Year Longitudinal Investigation of the Prospective Associations and Concurrent Changes in Health and Experiential Well-Being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 45 (12), 1635-1650. (;

  • Hudson, Nathan W., Richard E. Lucas, M. Brent Donnellan, and Kostadin Kushlev. 2016. Income Reliably Predicts Daily Sadness, but Not Happiness: A Replication and Extension of Kushlev, Dunn, and Lucas (2015). Social Psychological and Personality Science 7 (8), 828-836. (;

  • Metzing, Maria. 2019. Essays on Inequality: Income Distribution, (Just) Taxation and Well-being (thesis). Berlin: FU Berlin.;

  • Möwisch, Dave, Florian Schmiedek, David Richter, and Annette Brose. 2019. Capturing Affective Well-Being in Daily Life with the Day Reconstruction Method: A Refined View on Positive and Negative Affect. Journal of Happiness Studies 20 (2), 641-663. ( );

  • Wolf, Tobias, Maria Metzing, and Richard E. Lucas. 2019. Experienced Well-Being and Labor Market Status: The Role of Pleasure and Meaning. SOEPpapers 1043 . Berlin: DIW Berlin.









Richard E. Lucas, Michigan State University [E-Mail]




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Day reconstrution method