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Thinking Outside the Box About Indicators of Well-Being: Agency, Communion, and Positivity

Journal article
Authors Danilo Garcia
Erik Lindskär
Trevor Archer
Published in International Journal of Happiness and Development
Volume 2
Issue 2
Pages 182-191
ISSN 2049-2790
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Pages 182-191
Language en
Keywords Affect Balance; Agency; Character; Communion; Cooperativeness; Flourishing; Negative Affect; Positive Affect; Positivity; Positivity Ratio; Self-directedness; Well-Being Index
Subject categories Clinical Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology


Flourishing encompasses both feeling good and doing good and is suggested to be a function of high positivity. The present study investigated the relationship between agentic (e.g., being autonomous, responsible, and having self-control) and communal (e.g., showing empathy, helping behavior, and social tolerance) traits to positivity. Positivity was measured as either a two-dimensional construct comprising positive and negative affect, as positivity ratios (i.e., positive affect/negative affect), and as affect balance (i.e., positive affect-negative affect). The results suggest that agency and communion predict high levels of positivity and that positivity as a two-dimensional construct might be a more straightforward and theoretically sound way of measuring positivity. Agency, communion, and positivity, however, show evidence of being separate indicators of well-being. Further empirical work should answer the question whether agency and communion (i.e., doing good) and positivity (i.e., feeling good) could be used as an index of a nation success.

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