References to Key Constructs

Below is a list of top constructs in the field of positive psychology, along with their definitions, related assessments, and key references.

Appreciative Inquiry

Definition: Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a strength-based approach to facilitate organizational change, based on identifying and appreciating existing strengths and positively focusing inquiry to amplify what is already working.

Measures: N/A

Key References:

  • Cooperrider, D.L. (1990).  Positive image, positive action:  The affirmative basis for organizing.  In S. Srivastva & D.L. Cooperrider (Eds.), Appreciative management and leadership:  The power of positive thought and action in organizations (pp.91-125).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.
  • Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D., & Stavros, J.M. (2008).  Appreciative Inquiry Handbook:  For Leaders of Change, 2nd Edition. Brunswick, OH:  Crown Custom Publishing, Inc.
  • Ludema, J.D., Whitney, D., Mohr, B.J., & Griffin, T.J. (2003).  The Appreciative Inquiry Summit:  A practitioner’s guide for leading large-group change. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Whitney, D., & Trosten-Bloom, A.  (2003).  The power of Appreciative Inquiry. San Francisco, CA:  Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions

Definition: A theory that describes the ability of positive emotional experiences to broaden momentary thinking and build enduring resilience over time.

Measures: N/A

Key References:

  • Fitzpatrick, M. R., & Stalikas, A. (2008). Positive emotions as generators of therapeutic change. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 18, 137-154.
  • Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300-319.
  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.
  • Fredrickson, B. L. & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist, 60, 678-686.

Forgiveness

Definitions:

1) Freeing from a negative attachment to the source that has transgressed against a person (Thompson et al., 2005)

2) An increase in prosocial motivation toward another so that there is 1) less desire to avoide the transgressing person and to harm or seek revenge toward that individual, and 2) increased desire to act positively toward the transgressing person (McCullough et al., 2000)

3) “A willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love toward him or her,” (Enright, Freedman, & Rique, 1998, pp. 46-47).

4) “[C]ognitive-affective transformation following a transgression in which 2) the victim makes a realistic assessment of the harm done and acknowledges the perpetrator’s responsibility, but (3) freely chooses to ‘cancel the debt,’ giving up the need for revenge or deserved punishments and any quest for restitution. This ‘canceling of the debt’ also involves (4) a ‘cancellation of negative emotions’ directly related to the transgression. In particular, in forgiving, the victim overcomes his or her feelings of resentment and anger for the act. In short, by forgiving, the harmed individual (5) essentially removes himself or herself from the victim role,” (Tangney, Fee, Reinsmith, Boone, & Lee, 1999, p. 2)

Measures:

  • Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS; Thompson et al., 2005)
  • Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Inventory (TRIM, McCullough et al., 1998)
  • Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EVI; Subkoviak et al., 1995)
  • Willingness to Forgive Scale (WTF; Hebl & Enright, 1993)
  • Multidimensional Forgiveness Inventory (MFI; Tangney et al., 1999)

Key References:

  • McCullough, M. E., & Worthington, E. L. (1994). Models of interpersonal forgiveness and their applications to counseling: Review and critique. Counseling and Values, 39(1), 2-14.
  • Worthington, E. L., Jr. (2006). Forgiveness and reconciliation: Theory and application. New York, New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Worthington, E. L., Jr., Mazzeo, S. E., & Carter, D. E. (2005). Forgiveness-promoting approach: Helping clients REACH forgiveness through using a longer model that teaches reconciliation. In L. Sperry, & E. P. Shafranske (Eds.) Spirtually oriented psychotherapy (pp. 235-257). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Wade, N. G. (1999). The psychology of unforgiveness and forgiveness and implications for clinical practice. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 18(4), 385-418.

Gratitude

Definition: The propensity to appreciate and savor everyday events and experiences (Bryant, 1989; Langston, 1994)

Measures:

  • Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (GRAT; Watkins, Grimm, & Hailu, 1998)
  • Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6; McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002)

Key References:

  • Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Sciences, 17(4), 319-325. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01705.x
  • Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 56-69.
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. Doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough. (2004). The psychology of gratitude. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Emmons, R. A., & Shelton, C. M. (2002). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.). Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 31(5), 431-451.

Hardiness

Definition: Hardiness is a combination of attitudes and skills that help people turn stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities instead.  The attitudes of hardiness are the 3Cs of commitment, control, and challenge, which together constitute the existential courage needed to do the hard work of transforming stresses into growth possibilities.  The skills of hardiness are hardy (problem-solving) coping, hardy (socially-supportive) interaction, and hardy (beneficial) self-care, all of which involve hard work, and will not be done without the existential courage of the hardy attitudes.  Without hardiness, people tend to react to stresses by denial and avoidance, or exaggeration and striking back.

Measures:

  • The Personal Views Survey III-R, an 18 item questionnaire.  The Hardiness Institute, which copyrights and trademarks the test, does not release the scoring algorithym.  So, if someone wants to use the test for research, they administer the test, and the Hardiness Institute scores the item scores for them and provides scale scores on commitment, control, challenge, and total hardiness, along with relevant reliabilities.
  • The HardiSurvey III-R, which is 65 items, and can be taken on line at www.HardinessInstitute.com.  This test comes with a comprehensive report on stress vulnerability and stress resilience.

Key References:

  • Maddi, S.R. (2002).  The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research, and practice.  Consulting Psychology Journal, 54, 173-185.
  • Maddi, S.R., Harvey, R.H., Resurreccion, R., Giatras, C.D., & Raganold, S. (2007).  Hardiness as a performance enhancer in firefighters.  International Journal of Fire Service Leadership and Management, 1, 3-9.
  • Maddi, S.R., & Khoshaba, D.M. (2005).  Resilience at Work:  How to Succeed No Matter What Life Throws at You.  New York: Amacom.
  • Maddi, S.R., Harvey, R.H., Khoshaba, D.M., Fazel, M., & Resurreccion, N. (2009).  Hardiness training facilitates performance in college.  Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 566-577.

Hope

Definition: Hope is defined as “goal-directed thinking in which people perceive that they can produce routes to desired goals (pathways thinking) and the requisite motivation to use those routes (agency thinking)” (Lopez, Snyder, & Teramoto-Pedrotti, 2003, p. 94). Levels of hope have predicted athletic performance, health behaviors, coping, adjustment, academic success and psychotherapy outcomes (Lopez & Snyder, 2007; Snyder, 2002).

Measures:

  • Trait Hope Scale-Revised
  • State Hope Scale
  • Academic Hope Scale
  • Domain Specific Hope Scale-Revised
  • Children’s Hope Scale

Key references:

  • Cheavens, J. (2000). Hope and depression: Light through the shadows. In C. R. Snyder (Ed.), Handbook of Hope: Theory, measures, and applications (pp. 321-340). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Cheavens, J., Feldman, D. B., Gum, A., Michael, S. T., & Snyder, C. R.  (2006). Hope therapy in a community sample: A pilot investigation.  Social Indicators Research, 77, 61-78.
  • Snyder, C. R. (2002).  Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind.  Psychological Inquiry,13(4), 249-275.
  • Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J. R., Holeran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., Yoshinobu, L., Gibb, J., Langelle, C., & Harney, P. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 570-585.
  • Snyder, C. R., Ilardi, S. S., Cheavens, J. Michael, S. T., Yamhure, L., & Sympson, S. (2000). The role of hope in cognitive-behavioral therapies. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 24, 747-762.

Life Satisfaction

Definition: A cognitive assessment of one’s life as a whole (Shin & Johnson, 1978)

Measures:

  • The Student’s Life Satisfaction Scale (SLSS; Huebner, 1991)
  • Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985)
  • Perceived Life Satisfaction Scale (PLSS; Adelmann et al., 1989; Smith, Adelman, Nelson, & Taylor, 1987)
  • Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS; Seligson, Huebner, & Valois, 2003)
  • Extended Satisfaction With Life Scale (ESWLS; Alfonso, Allison, Rader, & Gorman, 1996)
  • Multidimensional Student’s Life Satisfaction Scale (MSLSS; Huebner, 1994)
  • Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale – Adolescent (MSLSS-A; Gilligan & Huebner, 2002)
  • Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale (ComQol; Cummins, McCabe, Romeo, & Gullone, 1994)

Key References:

  • Proctor, C., Linley, A. P., Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction measures: A review. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, (2), 128-144. doi: 10.1080/17439760802650816
  • Proctor, C., Linley, A. P., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 583-630. doi: 10.1007/s10902-008-9110-9
  • Diener, D. Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75.

Mindfulness:

Definition: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”  (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4)

Measures:

  • Toronto Mindfulness Scale (Lau et al., 2006)
  • Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (Brown & Ryan, 2003)
  • Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (Feldman et al., 2007)
  • Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (Walach et al., 2006)

Key References:

  • Praissman, S.  (2008).  Mindfulness-based stress reduction:  A literature review and clinician’s guide.  Journal of the American Academiy of Nurse Practitioners, 20 (4), 212-216.  doi:  10.111/j.1745-7599.2008.00306x
  • Baer, R.A.  (2003).  Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention:  A conceptual and empirical review.  Clinical Psychology:  Science and Practice, 10, 125-142.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J.  (1994).  Wherever you go, there you are:  Mindfulness meditation in everyday life.  New York:  Hyperion Books.

Optimistic Explanatory Style

Definition: A theory that explores the types of attributions that one makes for positive and negative life events. When explaining positive life events, attributions are internal, stable, and global rather than attributing them to external sources or luck.

Measures:

  • Attributional Style Questionnaires (ASQ; Peterson et al; 1982)
  • Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE; Peterson, Bettes, & Seligman, 1985)

Key References:

  • Peterson, C., & Steen, T. (2001). Optimistic explanatory style. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), The handbook of positive psychology (pp. 244–256). London: Oxford University Press.
  • Reivich, K. & Gillham, J. (2003). Learned optimism: The measurement of explanatory style. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures (pp. 91-107). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Personal Growth Initiative

Definition: Intentional thought and behavior directed at changing and developing as a person (Robitschek, 1998, 1999)

Measures:

  • Personal Growth Initiative Scale (PGIS; Robitschek, 1998)
  • Personal Growth Initiative Scale – II (PGIS-II; Robitschek et al., 2009)

Key References:

  • Robitschek, C. (1998). Personal growth initiative: The construct and its measure. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 30, 183-198.
  • Spering, C., & Robitschek, C. (2007). Personal Growth Initiative Scale manual. Lubbock, TX: Author.
  • Robitschek, C., Ashton, M. W., Spering, C. C., Murray, D., Shotts, G. C., & Martinez, M. (2009, June). Development of the Personal Growth Initiative Scale – II. Poster presented at the 2009 World Congress on Positive Psychology, Philadelphia, PA.

Positive Youth Development

Definition: “an ongoing, inevitable process in which all youth are engaged and all youth are engaged and all youth are invested. Youth interact with their environment and positive agents (e.g., youth and adults who support healthy development, institutions that create climates conducive to growth, programs that foster change) to meet their basic needs and cultivate assets,” (Snyder & Lopez, 2007, p. 109-110).

Measures: N/A

Key References:

  • Larson, R. W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55(1), 170-183. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.170
  • Lerner, J. V., Phelps, E., Forman, Y. E., Bowers, E. P. (2009). Positive Youth Development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of Adolescent Psychology (3rd ed.; pp. 524-558). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  • Park, N. (2004). Character strengths and positive youth development. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 40-53. doi: 10.1177/0002716203260079
  • Kirschman, K. J. B., Johnson, R. J., Bender, J. A., & Roberts, M. C. (2009). Positive psychology for children and adolescents: Development, prevention, and promotion. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (pp. 133-148).

Psychological Well-Being

Definition: Psychological well-being is a trait like indicator of functioning based in the eudaimonic tradition. Aspects of psychological well-being include: (a) autonomy, (b) environmental mastery, (c) personal growth, (d) positive relationships with others, (e) purpose in life, (f) and self-acceptance.

Measures:

  • Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being (available in 84, 54, and 18 item scales)

Key References:

  • Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.
  • Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719-727.
  • Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1996). Psychological well-being: Meaning, measurement, and             implications for psychotherapy research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 65, 14-23.

Strengths

Definitions:Peterson and Seligman (2004) use a hierarchical classification of positive traits to define strengths. Virtues are defined as the “core characteristics valued by moral philosophers and religious thinkers: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence,” (p. 13). Character strengths are defined as, “the psychological ingredients—processes or mechanisms—that define the virtues,” (p. 13). Situational themes are “the specific habits that lead people to manifest given character strengths in given situations,” (p. 14).

Clifton and colleagues believe strengths are an extension and develop from talents, or “naturally reoccurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied,” (Hodges & Clifton, 2004, p. 257). Strengths reflect a near-perfect performance and combine one’s talents, knowledge, and skills.

Linley and Harrington (2006) defined strengths as “a natural capacity for behaving, thinking, and feeling in a way that allows optimal functioning in the pursuit of valued outcomes,” (p. 88).

Measures:

  • Values in Action Inventory (VIA)
  • Values in Action Inventory in Youth (VIA-Youth; Park & Peterson, 2006)
  • StrengthsFinder
  • Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer
  • Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (Lyons, 1999)
  • Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA; LeBuffe & Naglieri, 1999)
  • Search Institute’s Developmental Assets (Benson et al., 1998)
  • Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (Epstein, 2004)
  • Preschool Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (PreBERS; Epstein & Synhorst, L, 2008)

Key References:

  • Clifton, D.O., Anderson, E., & Schriener, L.A. (2006). StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond. New York: Gallup Press.
  • Epstein, M. H., Synhorst, L. L., & Cress, C. J. (2009). Development and standardization of a test to measure the emotional and behavioral strengths of preschool children. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17(1), 29-37.
  • Linley, P.A., & Harrington, S. (2006). Play to your strengths. The Psychologist, 19(2), 86-89.
  • Lyons, J. S. (1999). The Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths for children and adolescents with mental health challenges (CANS-MH). Winnetka, IL: Buddin Praed Foundation.
  • Park, N. (2004). Character strengths and positive youth development. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 40-53. doi: 10.1177/0002716203260079
  • Peterson, C., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Classification and handbook. Washington, DD: American Psychological Association.
  • Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (2006). Classifications and measures of human strengths and positive outcomes. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.). Positive psychology: The scientific and practical explorations of human strengths (pp. 51-77). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Subjective Well-being

Definition: A phenomenon that includes positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction. (Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996)

Measures:

  • Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985) in conjunction with the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS)
  • Affective Intensity Measure (AIM; Larsen & Diener, 1987)

Key References:

  • Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
  • Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276-302.
  • Larson, R. J., Diener, E., & Emmons, R. An evaluation of subjective well-being measures. Social Indicators Research, 17(1), 1-17. doi: 10.1007/BF00354108
  • Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2004). Findings of subjective well-being: Applications to public policy, clinical interventions, and education. In P. A. Linley, & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 679-692). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Vicarious resilience

Definition:“a specific resilience process occurring as a result of psychotherapists’ work with trauma survivors. This process is characterized by a unique and positive effect that transforms therapists in response to client trauma survivors’ own resiliency. In other words, it refers to the transformations in the therapists’ inner experience resulting from empathetic engagement with the client’s trauma material.

VR may be a unique consequence of trauma work. We argue that this process is a common and natural phenomenon illuminating further the complex potential of therapeutic work both to fatigue and to heal” (Hernandez, Engstrom & Gangsei, 2007, p.237).

Measures: N/A

Key References:

  • Hernández, P., Engstrom, D. & Gangsei, D. (2010). Exploring the impact of trauma on therapists:Vicarious resilience and related concepts in training. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 29(10), 67-83.
  • Engstrom, D., Hernández, P., & Gangsei, D. (2008). Vicarious resilience: A qualitative investigation into its description. Traumatology, 14(3), 13-21.
  • Hernández, P., Gangsei, D., & Engstrom, D.(2007). Vicarious resilience: A qualitative investigation into a description of a new concept. Family Process, 46, pp.229-241.