Research Articles

Gratitude for Better or Worse: Differential Predictors and Affective Outcomes of State Gratitude in Positive and Negative Contexts

Adam P McGuire, Thane M Erickson, Christina M Quach, Brittany Willey

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 99-111

Whereas past studies primarily examined state-level gratitude measured across long periods of time and in the context of positive events, this study assessed situational predictors of state gratitude and its affective outcomes in the context of specific positive and negative naturalistic events. Across seven weeks, 147 undergraduates recorded best and worst weekly events, depressive symptoms, as well as gratitude and positive affect (PA) anchored to those events. Independent raters coded events as dependent or independent of participants’ agency and interpersonal or noninterpersonal. Multilevel models showed there was a significant interaction between agency and interpersonal status for positive events, and simple effects tests indicated participants reported higher levels of gratitude for independent-interpersonal events compared to other potential event types. Unexpectedly, participants also reported higher gratitude for dependent events if they were interpersonal in nature. Negative event-anchored state gratitude was also higher for interpersonal events as indicated by a significant main effect. Lastly, within-person variability in event-anchored state gratitude was associated with higher state PA following both best and worst events, but only state gratitude anchored to best events was related to lower weekly depressive symptoms. Overall, results demonstrated that naturally occurring state gratitude for specific events was differentially impacted by situational factors, and that within-person variability in gratitude following both positive and negative events is related to positive affective outcomes.

Types of Subjective Well-Being and Their Associations with Relationship Outcomes

Shannon Moore, Ed Diener

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 112-118

The authors examined the associations between three facets of subjective well-being (SWB; positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction) and relationship outcomes, employing multilevel models to analyze data from 90 couples. It was found that as participants’ self-reported positive affect increased, they also reported higher perceived support from their partners, greater relationship satisfaction, perceived partners as being more helpful and less upsetting in support situations, and rated their partners as more important. As self-reported negative affect increased, participants reported lower perceived support from partners, lower relationship satisfaction, and perceived partners as less helpful and more upsetting. As self-reported life satisfaction increased, participants reported higher perceived support from partners, greater relationship satisfaction, and rated partners as more helpful and less upsetting. It was also found that participants’ greater self-reported SWB was positively associated with their partners’ reported relationship outcomes, even after controlling for the partners’ own SWB. Thus, not only do those with higher SWB perceive their relationship as being of better quality, their partners also rate the relationship more positively. This finding suggests that people high in SWB do not just perceive their relationship as better, but create a better relationship for their partner as well. This finding also indicates that it is not just happy people perceiving everything, including their relationships, as superior, but that they have better relationships from the partner’s viewpoint.

Development and Validation of the Japanese version of the Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI-J)

Atsushi Kawakubo, Fred B Bryant, Erika Miyakawa, Takashi Oguchi

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 119-136

Savoring is defined as people’s capacity to attend to positive experiences and to regulate positive feelings in response to positive events. The purpose of this study was to develop a Japanese adaptation of the Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI-J). The SBI is a self-report measure designed to assess individuals’ beliefs about their ability to savor positive experience within three temporal orientations involving future-focused anticipation of upcoming positive events, present-focused savoring of ongoing positive moments, and past-focused reminiscence about positive memories. After back-translating the SBI, we used an Internet survey to administer the instrument, along with a set of validational criterion measures, to a sample of 520 Japanese adults. Supporting hypotheses and replicating results with Western samples, confirmatory factor analyses revealed that responses to the SBI-J were best conceptualized in terms of five factors reflecting the three, intercorrelated temporal orientations (anticipating, savoring the moment, and reminiscing), as well as two “method” factors involving positive and negative item-valence. Strong, significant correlations among the three temporal SBI-J subscales also support the use of a total score that provides an overall summary of global savoring ability. Each of the three temporal subscales and total score showed acceptable internal consistency reliability and strong one-month test-retest reliability. Correlations of the SBI-J subscales and total score with criterion measures, and gender differences in mean SBI-J scores, support the convergent and discriminant validity of the instrument. These results indicate that the SBI-J is a valid and reliable tool for assessing savoring ability among Japanese adults.

Transitions to Older Adulthood: Exploring Midlife Women’s Narratives Regarding Purpose in Life

Han-Jung Ko, Karen Hooker, Margaret M Manoogian, Dan P McAdams

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 137-152

Purpose in life has been shown to affect important outcomes related to healthy aging.  However, quantitative studies have consistently found lower purpose in life among older adults. A qualitative inquiry into purpose in life may offer insights into why there appears to be a decline in later life, and for whom. This study investigated two waves of life narratives from late midlife women to explore how they expressed meaning and purpose regarding their life paths. White and Black women (N = 16) with higher and lower purpose in life were sampled based on a prior quantitative study (Ko, Hooker, Geldhof, & McAdams, 2016). Using a grounded theory approach and a life course perspective lens, we analyzed two waves of life stories over five years to understand how participants experienced their purposes in life over time. Three common themes emerged including the centrality of family relationships, the negotiation of work, and the pursuit of agency. Those with higher and lower purpose in life scores varied in how they defined and enacted purpose in life based on prior and current life experiences. Being proactive in directing one’s life course was shown to differentiate those with higher versus lower purpose in life. In transitions into older adulthood, having a proactive approach to the world may be salient for a purposeful aging process.

Self-Regulation Mechanisms Explain How Dispositional Mindfulness Promotes Well-Being

Christie Lundwall, Sara Fairborn, Laura Quinones-Camacho, Justin Estep, Elizabeth Davis

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 153-164

Most empirical studies of mindfulness have focused on the relation between mindfulness and decreased maladaptive outcomes (e.g. depression, anxiety, somatization disorders), and relatively fewer have examined the mechanisms linking dispositional mindfulness with adaptive outcomes such as well-being (e.g., happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect). The goal of this study was to address this gap in our understanding by testing a theoretical model in which two distinct types of self-regulation (goal-directed self-regulation and cognitive emotion dysregulation) and perceived stress would mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and well-being in a sample of 442 young adults. As hypothesized, goal-directed self-regulation partially mediated the relation between dispositional mindfulness and well-being. Additionally, self-regulation variables fully mediated the link between dispositional mindfulness and perceived stress. There was also an indirect relation between goal-directed self-regulation and well-being, through perceived stress. When these mediators were included in the model, the direct relation between dispositional mindfulness and well-being became smaller but was still present. Further, the hypothesized multi-step mediation model fit significantly better and improved the data fit indices versus the single-step mediation model comparator. Taken together, these data supported a meaningful role of self-regulatory processes and perceived stress in explaining the role of dispositional mindfulness in promoting well-being.

Resilience, Grit, and Hardiness: Determining the Relationships amongst these Constructs through Structural Equation Modeling Techniques

Vasiliki Georgoulas-Sherry, Dennis Kelly

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 165-178

A significant body of research has demonstrated the need to better understand character constructs that are integral in influencing and predicting human performance, specifically investigating resilience, grit, and hardiness. However, limited studies have examined the relationships that exist within these constructs. The current research addresses this gap by utilizing numerous structural equation modeling techniques to report on the relationships among resilience, grit, and hardiness. Employing a sample from the United States Military Academy (N = 1205), participants were asked to complete the Response to Stressful Experiences Scale, the Grit Scale, and the Dispositional Resilience Scale as part of the Reception Day battery of tests. Correlations matrixes reported positive relationships amongst resilience, grit, and hardiness. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) revealed a six-factor model structure of resilience and a bi-factor model of grit and hardiness. Additional CFAs revealed a three-factor model structure among the three constructs, resilience, grit, and hardiness. Implications for further work are presented.

Hedonic and eudaimonic motives toward university studies: How they relate to each other and to well-being derived from school

Arthur Braaten, Veronika Huta, Lorrain Tyrany, Andrew Thompson

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 179-196

Eudaimonic motives (seeking growth, authenticity, excellence, meaning), hedonic enjoyment motives (seeking pleasure, fun), and hedonic comfort motives (seeking relaxation, ease) are major ways people pursue well-being. These motives have been primarily studied at the global level and hedonic enjoyment and hedonic comfort motives are often combined. To date, no studies have examined these well-being motives for the academic context. The aim of this research was to examine the factor structure of the Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motives for Activities scale (HEMA; Huta & Ryan, 2010) in the academic context, the intercorrelations between these motives in this context, and the relationship between these motives and well-being derived from academic studies. In a sample of undergraduate students (n = 405) principal components analysis and confirmatory factor analysis of the HEMA showed that a three-factor model was a better fit than a two-factor model in the academic context. The correlations between hedonic enjoyment motives and hedonic comfort motives were also not too large, suggesting that they are different concepts in the academic context. Consistently, both eudaimonic and hedonic enjoyment motives positively related to well-being experiences measured, whereas hedonic comfort motives did not. Eudaimonic motives also had significantly stronger relationships with experiences of school satisfaction, meaning, elevation, self-connectedness, and interest at school compared to hedonic enjoyment motives. These studies indicate that it is important to distinguish between eudaimonic, hedonic enjoyment, and hedonic comfort motives in the academic context and that they have different relationships to well-being derived from school.

Review Articles

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with Ecological Systems Theory: Addressing Muslim Mental Health Issues and Wellbeing

Ahmet Tanhan

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 3 No. 2 (2019), 7 October 2019, Page 197-219

Muslims across the word underutilize mental health services for addressing their wellbeing and biopsychosocial, spiritual, and contextual issues. By 2030, the global Muslim population is expected to reach 2.2 billion people. This indicates that Muslim mental health is gaining importance and would require contextually (i.e., spiritually, culturally, empirically) more effective services. Practitioners used Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Ecological Systems Theory (EST) to promote wellbeing and address psychopathology for diverse groups. However, rigorous and comprehensive literature from 1986 to 2019 did not produce research addressing how ACT could be consumed to serve Muslims. Researchers in Muslim mental health have suggested benefitting from EST yet only few have mentioned using ACT. ACT is one of the most effective therapies based on randomized control trials to enhance wellbeing and address psychopathology. The main purposes of this paper are to (a) explain how ACT is one of the most appropriate counseling approaches to be utilized with Muslims because ACT and Islam have many commonalities and (b) propose ACT with EST perspective to enable a much more contextual perspective of ACT so that mental health professionals could promote wellbeing and address psychopathology at all ecological levels for all, starting with Muslims. With the arrival of third and fourth wave of counseling approaches, the use of positive psychology in research and practice has increased dramatically. ACT, Islam, and EST also highly stress a positive approach perspective thus considering of ACT and EST together might promise more effective research and practice in positive and abnormal psychology.