Evaluating the Psychometric Properties of the PERMA Profiler

Abstract

This paper reports on an investigation of the psychometric properties of the PERMA Profiler—a popular measure of well-being—with a large sample of Australian adults (n = 1942). We assessed the factor structure, scale reliability, and convergent and discriminant validity of the Profiler. Theory and evidence point to a second-order factor structure whereby the five PERMA elements constitute first-order factors that in turn load on a single general well-being factor. The Profiler displayed acceptable reliability for all subscales except Engagement and demonstrated the expected convergent relationships with measures of Flourishing, Optimism, Depression, and Psychological Distress. Further, the expected discriminate relationships were observed with measures of Anxiety and Stress. An important contribution of this research is to suggest that the elements of the Profiler all reflect, to an extent, a single general well-being factor. At a practical level, we provide information on the strengths and limitations of the Profiler in order to aid researchers and practitioners in their work.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Due to the various demands of each project, a different set of scales was used with each. This limitation is covered in more detail in the Discussion. Refer to Table 6 for an indication of the scales used with each sample.

  2. 2.

    In the original instructions for the PERMA Profiler (Butler and Kern 2016), overall well-being is calculated as the mean of the 15 PERMA items and the single happiness item. However, using the single happiness item to calculate overall well-being is not consistent with PERMA theory or the factor structures tested in the present investigation. Therefore, throughout this paper we calculate overall well-being using only the 15 PERMA items.

  3. 3.

    Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for highlighting this issue.

Abbreviations

PERMA:

Seligman’s (2011) PERMA-framework of well-being, consisting of Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Tania Marin, a former colleague at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, for survey design and data collection.

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Correspondence to Jonathan D. Bartholomaeus.

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Bartholomaeus, J.D., Iasiello, M.P., Jarden, A. et al. Evaluating the Psychometric Properties of the PERMA Profiler. J well-being assess 4, 163–180 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41543-020-00031-3

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Keywords

  • PERMA profiler
  • Well-being measurement
  • Psychometric validation
  • Factor analysis