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Regular version of the site

Positive Psychology as an Approach to Researching and Evaluating the Quality of Life

Priority areas of development: law, humanitarian
2012
Department: Positive Psychology and Life Quality Research Team
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The 2012 project focused on the theory and methodology of positive psychology, specifically on indicators and positive resources of well-being. Among them: quality of life, positive emotions, intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, subjective well-being, happiness, one's way of life, lifestyle, perfectionism, the experience of loneliness, personal resources, one's perspective on time, images of positive living, and positive practices. The study's aim was the methodoligical analysis of and the study of the possibilities of positive psychology in understanding the characteristics and patterns of a good life.

The project combines theoretical, methodological, empirical work, and an analysis of interventions. The starting point of the work was an analysis of positive psychology as the phenomenon of our day. The analysis embraced the history, the aims, the methodology of positive psychology, its specifics, problems and vulnerable points, the dynamics of its recent development, and its perspectives. More specialized theoretical analyses were focused on the problems of quality of life in connection with such constructs as way of life, lifestyle, and well-being. A part of the project was the professional adaptation of assessment methods widely used in this domain, in particular PANAS and Q-LES-Q, and the development of original methods of differential assessment of perfectionism and experiences with loneliness.

Empirical studies embrace a broad number of relevant topics. The study of perfectionism in its relationships with subjective well-being revealed different patterns of these relationships in two forms of perfectionism, normal and abnormal. The study of different patterns of the experience of loneliness confirmed the well-known data on strong negative connections between this experience and satisfaction with life and the meaning of life; however, this is the case only when respondents treat their loneliness as a problem; a tolerant view and even the enjoyment of solitude produces radically different patterns and serves as an important resource of well-being. A theoretical and pilot empirical study of the concepts of a happy and meaningful life has come to a conclusion on the critical role of implicit theories of a happy and meaningful life as the source of systematic errors in direct self-reports. Two other pilot studies were devoted to the image of the atheist vs. the image of the believer and to working women's perspective on future time.

The most substantial empirical study involved many researchers and was devoted to the relationships between job satisfaction, personality resources, and work motivation. The study was made on 4,708 employees of a national energy supply company. Three components of job satisfaction were separated: social, corporate, and personal ones; two of them can be assessed effectively with a new inventory. Personality resources play a dual role in work motivation. First, resources and work motivation independently predict psychological well-being at the workplace; second, the contribution of personal resources to the employees’ well-being depends on their position and work motivation. Personal resources are thus instrumental to goal attainment if the motivation is strong enough.   

A special chapter of the project was the analysis of coaching practice, particularly that of positive psychology coaching as an approach to solving applied problems, helping a person to track the direction of a meaningful, happy life. Much work is still incomplete and will be continued next year.

We also organized some special events tied directly with the project. The most important event was the Sixth European Conference on Positive Psychology, held in Moscow on June 26-29 and organized by the lab staff (Conference Chair: Professor D. Leontiev). About 400 participants represented not only Europe but also all the continents. Other events at the HSE worth noting were public debates on 'Positive Psychology and the Problem of Evil' (May 2012) and the open discussion 'Coaching Today: Ideas, Approaches, and Directions' (November 2012).