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Agency (Self-directedness), Communion (Cooperativeness), and the Positivity Ratio (Empowerment)

Poster (konferens)
Författare Erik Lindskär
Danilo Garcia
Trevor Archer
Publicerad i 26th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention. San Francisco, California, USA
Publiceringsår 2014
Publicerad vid Psykologiska institutionen
Centrum för etik, juridik och mental hälsa
Språk en
Ämnesord Agency, Character, Communion, Empowerment, Positivity Ratio
Ämneskategorier Medicinska grundvetenskaper, Psykologi, Psykiatri


Background: On basis of the Broaden-and-Build Theory (Fredrickson, 1998), which posits that the function of positive emotions is to build an individual’s resources for survival and well-being, Barbara Fredrickson developed the notion of a positivity ratio (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005). “Flourishing”, which according to Fredrickson goes beyond being happy in that it encompasses both feeling good and doing good, is suggested to be a function of high positivity ratios—a higher rate of positive emotions in comparison to negative emotions (see also Cloninger 2014, 2013). The mathematical basis of a potential flourishing-nonflourishing positivity ratio tipping point has recently been criticized (Brown, Sokal & Friedman, 2013). Nevertheless, Fredrickson has argued that even when the mathematics behind a “magical” precise ratio seem unfounded, higher positivity ratios are predictive of flourishing mental health and other beneficial outcomes (Fredrickson, 2013). The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between positivity ratios and agency (e.g., being autonomous, responsible, and having self-control) and communion (e.g., showing empathy, helping behavior, and social tolerance). Method: A total of 439 adolescents (age mean = 17.03, sd = 2.77) participated in the study. Agency and communion were operationalized using the Temperament and Character Inventory (i.e., the character scales Self-directedness and Cooperativeness; Cloninger, Svrakic & Przybeck, 1993) and affect was assessed through the Positive Affect, Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988). The Self-directedness and Cooperativeness scores were summarized to form a well-being measure (a composite of agency and communion) and then standardized by transforming the raw scores into T-scores, which implies that the mean of the population is 50 and a difference of 10 from the mean indicates a difference of one standard deviation. With regard to the Self-directedness+Cooperativeness composite, 2 standard deviations below the mean (T-score = 30) are suggested as a measure of immaturity (Cloninger, 2004). The positivity ratio was simply calculated by dividing the positive affect score by the negative affect score. Results: Regression analysis showed that the Self-directedness+Cooperativeness composite predicted high scores of positive affect (b = .25, t(428) = 5.34, p <.001), low scores of negative affect (b = -.25, t(428) = -5.35, p <.001), and high positivity ratios (b = .31, t(428) = 6.65, p <.001). Conclusions: We suggest that agency (Self-directedness) and communion (Cooperativeness) present meta-cognitive principles that we, humans, utilize to guide our behavior towards the self and others, to make exceptional alternatives as indicators of well-being and what actually makes life worthwhile and, in addition to flourishing, to the empowerment of the individual with endowment of high positivity ratios.

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