Further examination of the naturally emerging structure of well-being: Another look at the ‘Big Two’
Carmel Proctor, Roger G. Tweed, and John Maltby
Citation: Proctor, C., Tweed, R. G., & Maltby, R. (2021). ‘Further examination of the naturally emerging structure of wellbeing: Another look at the ‘Big Two’ .’ European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 14, 1-14. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-5-2021/volume-5-article-14/
Processing dates: Submitted 15th February 2021; Resubmitted 11th April 2021; Accepted 4th May 2021, Published 15th September 2021
Background: This study further explores the naturally emerging structure of wellbeing. Practitioners often measure the subjective well-being (SWB) construct, though a “Big Two” (hedonic vs eudaimonic) or “Big Three” (hedonic, eudaimonic, psychosocial/tripartite) model may deserve more attention. Furthermore, theories of well-being often involve virtue, without its operationalization.
Methodology: This study explored naturally emerging constructs of well-being. University students (n = 269) completed measures of well-being (positive and negative affect, depression, basic psychological needs, authenticity, hope, life satisfaction, psychological well-being), and virtue (empathy, dark triad traits). Goldberg’s (2006) Bass-Ackward procedure of component analysis provided a quantitative approach to examine the emerging constructs of well-being.
Results: Results provide further confirmation of the philosophical distinction between well-being and dysphoria, hedonia and eudaimonia, and the nonspecificity of life satisfaction. Virtue was associated with eudaimonia but was not redundant with other elements. Unexpected evidence emerged that the rejecting-influence element of authenticity may load more with dysphoria than with well-being.
Discussion: The separation of well-being from dysphoria and of hedonia from eudaimonia suggest the analysis worked well. The nonspecificity of life satisfaction brings further evidence that the SWB construct may be imbalanced. Results also support calls for a return to the Aristotelian inclusion of virtue in modern conceptualizations of eudaimonia. The Bass-Ackward approach also provided unexpected insights regarding authenticity.
Conclusions: Overall, results suggest a justification for a broader Big Three (tripartite) model of well-being. The Bass-Ackward approach also showed further potential with its combination of quantitative methods while allowing for the emergence of unexpected new insights.
Keywords: eudaimonia; well-being; happiness; hedonia; Bass-Ackward; life satisfaction
Carmel Proctor is with the Positive Psychology Research Centre, Guernsey
Roger Tweed is with the Department of Psychology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, Canada
John Maltby is with the Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, UK