Volume 6, Article 8

In Touch and in Tune: Preferences for Openness as a Substrate of Experiential Ability and Engagement
Michael D. Robinson, Allison N. Roiger, and Roberta L. Irvin

Citation: Robinson, M. D., Roiger, A. N., & Irvin, R. L. (2022). In Touch and in Tune: Preferences for Openness as a Substrate of Experiential Ability and Engagement, European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 6, 8, 1-14. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-6-2022/volume-6-article-8/

Processing dates: Submitted 29 September 2021; Resubmitted: 13 December 2021; Accepted 7 February 2022; Published 20 June 2022

Volume 6, Article 8


Background/Aims/Objectives: Curiosity and openness figure prominently in many accounts of positive psychological functioning. Whether individuals can live their lives in this manner is likely to depend on fundamental image schemas that they use to conceptualize themselves and their goals, particularly along an open versus closed dimension of being.

Methods/Methodology: Such image schemas were targeted by asking individuals whether they preferred the perceptual concept of open or closed, with openness thought to support higher levels of experiential ability and engagement. Potential links of this type were pursued in three studies involving four samples and 580 participants.

Results: Consistent with theorizing, open-preferring (relative to closed-preferring) individuals scored higher in trait-related emotional intelligence (Study 1), received higher scores on an ability-related emotional intelligence test (Study 2), exhibited higher levels of emotional flexibility (Studies 2 and 3), and experienced higher levels of positive affect and personal growth within the context of their daily lives (Study 3).

Discussion/Conclusions: The findings suggest that variations in experiential engagement and psychological flexibility can be probed through the use of a simple image schematic task that
contrasts the concepts of open versus closed. In addition, the findings provide support for theoretical perspectives positing that “openness” is a desirable mode of being.

Keywords: Openness, Engagement, Image Schemas, Assessment, Emotional Intelligence


Michael D. Robinson is Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, at North Dakota State University, USA

Allison N. Roiger is with North Dakota State University, USA

Roberta L. Irvin is with North Dakota State University, USA