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Support for a general factor of well-being

Longo, Ylieno; Coyne, Iain; Joseph, Stephen; Gustavsson, Petter

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Ylieno Longo

Iain Coyne

Petter Gustavsson


Well-being is typically defined as positive feeling (e.g. happiness), positive functioning (e.g. competence, meaning) or a combination of the two. Recent evidence indicates that well-being indicators belonging to different categories can be explained by single “general” factor of well-being (e.g. Jovanovic, 2015). We further test this hypothesis using a recent well-being scale, which includes indicators of positive feeling and positive functioning (Huppert & So, 2013). While the authors of the scale originally identified a two-factor structure, in view of recent evidence, we hypothesize that the two-factor solution may be due to a method effect of different items being measured with different rating scales. In study 1, we use data from the European Social Survey round 3 (n = 41,461) and find that two factors have poor discriminant validity and, after using a bifactor model to account for different rating scales, only the general factor is reliable. In study 2, we eliminate method effects by using the same rating scale across items, recruit a new sample (n = 507), and find that a one-factor model fits the data well. The results support the hypothesis that well-being indicators, typically categorized as “positive feeling” and “positive functioning,” reflect a single general factor.


Longo, Y., Coyne, I., Joseph, S., & Gustavsson, P. (in press). Support for a general factor of well-being. Personality and Individual Differences,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 29, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 12, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 14, 2016
Journal Personality and Individual Differences
Print ISSN 0191-8869
Electronic ISSN 1873-3549
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Structure of well-being; flourishing; factor analysis; unidimensionality; positive feeling; positive functioning; hedonic well-being; eudaimonic well-being
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Apr 14, 2016


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