Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 343–367 | Cite as

Development and Validation of the Social Emotional Health Survey–Higher Education Version

  • Michael J. FurlongEmail author
  • Sukkyung You
  • Mark Shishim
  • Erin Dowdy


We report on the development of the Social Emotional Health Survey-Higher Education (SEHS-HE), a multidimensional measure of covitality (the combinatorial effects of multiple positive psychological constructs). Scale development was carried out over 18 months involving five phases: conceptual grounding and item pool generation; cognitive interviews and item refinement; pilot survey and item reduction; structural validation survey and analyses; and, validity and stability analyses. Starting with a pool of 72 items, item selection and reduction was carried out using a sample of 771 college students. A second sample of 1,413 students (63.5 % female, mean age 20.0 years) completed the refined 48-item measure. Confirmatory factor analyses found acceptable fit for the SEHS-HE higher-order covitality latent structure. A final set of 36 items consisted of four latent traits (each comprised of three measured subscales): belief-in-self (subscales: self-efficacy, persistence, self-awareness), belief-in-others (subscales: family support, institutional support, peer support), emotional competence (subscales: cognitive reappraisal, empathy, self-regulation), and engaged living (subscales: gratitude, zest, optimism). Complete invariance was found for males and females with small effect size differences on latent mean scores. Evidence supported the SEHS-HE total score’s concurrent and predictive validity for students’ subjective well-being (r = .72, r = .65, respectively) and psychological distress (r = −.56, r = −.45, respectively). The 4-month stability coefficient for the SEHS-HE total score was .82, indicating it measures trait-like psychological constructs. The discussion focuses on the uses of the SEHS-HE in support of mental health programs, and refinement of the conceptual understanding of the covitality construct.


Covitality College students Social emotional health Well-being Social Emotional Health Survey-Higher Education 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Furlong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sukkyung You
    • 2
  • Mark Shishim
    • 3
  • Erin Dowdy
    • 4
  1. 1.International Center for School-Based Youth DevelopmentUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationHankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Academic InitiativesUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  4. 4.Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School PsychologyUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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