Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 659–684 | Cite as

What is Psychological Well-Being, Really? A Grassroots Approach from the Organizational Sciences

  • Véronique Dagenais-DesmaraisEmail author
  • André Savoie
Research Paper


Research on psychological well-being (PWB) in organizational settings is now facing two major challenges. First, conceptual confusion surrounds PWB (Danna and Griffin 1999; Diener 1994; Ryff 1989), and the debate about the superiority of concurrent hedonic, eudaimonic, and integrative approaches is still open. Second, researchers in the organizational sciences mainly study context-free PWB while measuring organizational correlates, despite contextualized non-cognitive measures having proven their incremental validity over context-free measures (e.g. English 2001; Hunthausen et al. 2003). In an attempt to address these issues from a new perspective, an inductive approach was proposed. To confer good content validity to our model of PWB at work (PWBW), a preliminary bottom-up qualitative phase was carried out. On this basis, a quantitative study was conducted. From the 80 manifestations of PWBW obtained, a new instrument was generated and administered to 1,080 workers, supplemented by measures of context-free PWB and distress, of positive and negative affect, and of life satisfaction. Exploratory factor analyses revealed that PWBW can be conceptualized through 5 dimensions, namely, Interpersonal Fit at Work, Thriving at Work, Feeling of Competency at Work, Desire for Involvement at Work, and Perceived Recognition at Work. The questionnaire showed satisfactory internal consistency. Correlational analyses support the “related but distinct” nature of PWBW with regard to context-free hedonic and eudaimonic PWB dimensions and psychological distress indicators. In sum, the study led to the development of a grounded conceptualization of PWBW based on a work frame-of-reference and tied to a reliable and valid measure.


Psychological well-being at work Psychological health at work Conceptualization Psychometric instrument Positive psychology Attitudes 



Preparation of this article was made possible by a grant to the first author from the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, as well as by a seed grant from Université de Sherbrooke. The authors would like to extend special thanks to Timothy A. Judge and Robert Liden, Karine Savaria, as well as to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on a previous version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and Human Resources Management, Faculty of AdministrationUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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