PROJECT NAME: Defining and measuring psychological well-being

Positive psychology is gaining momentum in Sweden and internationally. There is a big interest about what makes people feel well, and how this correlates with more classic psychological fields and questions. Well-being research is a young science and suffers from a lack of solid definitions and measures. The purpose of this project (or PhD paper) is to define psychological well-being and to develop a multi-dimensional scale which can measure psychological well-being extensively and accurately.



Well-being research study what makes people feel well, in contrary to clinical psychology which study psychological problems and disorders. Both fields are of course important in understanding mind and behavior. Clinical psychology offer a massive amount of problem and disorder definitions (like DSM), while positive psychology only have some commonly used scales (like the SWB) to rely on. The reason to this difference is the classic assumption that “a lack of problems makes people feel well”. Well-being has therefore been left out to philosophers, who actually have discussed “the good life” since Platon and Aristotle. With an increasing interest in positive psychology, individual differences, psychological strengths and the concept of well-being, there is a need to summarize the concepts and creating a multidimensional scale which can measure well-being extensively and accurately. Such a scale can be useful when determining effects of treatments, examining psychological development and studying individual differences.

This paper will be written in four steps:

The first step deals with the concept of well-being, from philosophical roots to popular current theories and assumptions.

The second step deals with defining and creating the new well-being scale (hexagon of well-being).

The third step will test the dimensions of the scale.

The fourth step will correlate the scale with other popular measures, both positive and negative.

The last three steps should each produce a high-quality article which can be published internationally.

Step One – Summarizing

  • Introduction
    • The Concept of Well-Being
      • Clinical psychology – lack of diagnose or problem makes you feel well?
      • A state of mind?
      • The sum of anxiety and happiness?
      • Two-tailed well-being theory
  • Philosophical Roots
    • Eudemonia (Aristotle)
    • Hedonism (Epicurus)
  • Emergence of positive psychology
  • Current theories on happiness and well-being
    • Goal-oriented vs Pleasure-oriented
    • Automated vs Conscious
    • Subjective vs Objective
  • Measures and scales
    • Satisfaction with life scale
    • Positive and negative affect scale
    • Multidimensional scales
  • Limitations with current definitions and scales
    • Too much focus on emotions
    • Too much focus on subjective well-being
    • Most scales are one-dimensional
    • Lack of definitions when creating scales

Step Two –  The Hexagon of Well-being

  • Introduction
    • What is well-being?
      • From concept to definitions
  • Can well-being be measured?
    • Objective vs. subjective measures
  • Are there multiple dimensions of well-being?
    • Genes and heritability
    • Mind, emotions and thoughts
    • Environment and behavior
  • Defining the hexagon of well-being scale
    • Social well-being
    • Behavioral well-being
    • Occupational well-being
    • Emotional well-being
    • Subjective well-being
    • Existential well-being
  • How can the hexagon of well-being scale be used in research?
    • Correlational research with risk and protective factors
    • Positive outcomes and treatment effectiveness
    • Well-being index
  • Problems and limitations with the hexagon of well-being scale
    • Cultural differences

Step Three – Testing the hexagon of well-being

  • Introduction
    • Reliability
      • Test-retest reliability
      • Internal consistency (Cronbach´s alpha)
  • Validity
    • Correlation tests of the six dimensions – are all dimensions needed? Do all dimension seem to represent something unique as assumed by theory?

Step Four – Well-being at a Swedish university

  • Introduction
    • Well-being and academic stress
    • Well-being and student economy
    • Well-being and academic achievement

Step Four – Treating anxiety disorders – outcomes on well-being

  • Introduction
    • Comparing the effects of self-help treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, medicine and coaching on well-being in people with anxiety disorders.



  1. Collecting relevant books and articles on well-being. Writing an introduction and further planning of the research.
  2. Writing Step One.
  3. Writing Step Two.
  4. Collecting and summarizing data.
  5. Analyzing data and writing Step Three.
  6. Writing Step Three and Four.
  7. Writing Step Four.
  8. Finishing up the PhD paper.


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