R E S E A R C H A R T I C L E Open Access
Validation of the Flourishing Scale in a
sample of people with suboptimal levels of
, Peter M. ten Klooster
, Constance H. C. Drossaert
, Marcel E. Pieterse
, Linda Bolier
Jan A. Walburg
and Ernst T. Bohlmeijer
Background: There is growing interest in measuring the eudaimonic perspective of mental well-being (social and
psychological well-being) alongside existing measures of the hedonic perspective of mental well-being (subjective
well-being). The Flourishing Scale (FS) assesses core aspects of social-psychological functioning and is now widely
used in research in practice. However, the reliability and validity of eudaimonic measures such as the FS has not
yet been tested in people with low or moderate levels of well-being. This group is at risk for developing mental
disorders and, therefore, an important target group for public mental health.
Methods: We extensively evaluated the psychometric properties of the 8-item FS in a sample of adults with low or
moderate levels of well-being in The Netherlands (N= 275) using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), item response
theory analysis and a multitrait matrix.
Results: The unidimensional structure of the scale was confirmed with CFA and an adequate fit to the Rasch
model. However, our sample showed positive skewness of the scale, but lacked measurement precision at the
higher end of the social-psychological continuum. In general, the multitrait matrix demonstrated the convergent
validity of the scale, with strong to weak correlations between the FS and (1) overall well-being, (2) social and
psychological well-being (3) positive eudaimonic states, (4) hedonic states, (5) psychopathology and (6) personality
traits. Nevertheless, relatively low correlations were found, specifically in comparison with the Mental Health
Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF).
Conclusions: The FS seems a reliable and valid instrument for measuring social-psychological functioning in adults
with suboptimal well-being, but its use in intervention studies and clinical practice might be debatable. Therefore,
the FS seems most suitable to include in epidemiological studies alongside existing hedonic measures to more fully
capture mental well-being. Future research should examine the temporal stability of the FS and the consequences
of the positive skewness and limited external validity of the scale found in the current study.
Keywords: Mental well-being, Social-psychological functioning, Eudaimonic well-being, Psychometric properties,
Confirmatory factor analysis, Item response theory
* Correspondence: email@example.com
Trimbos Institute, Department of Public Mental Health, P.O. Box 725 3500 AS
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Centre for eHealth and Well-being Research, Department of Psychology,
Health and Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
© 2016 Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to
the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver
(http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12
Mental well-being is an important multifaceted con-
struct with an extensive and long-standing history in the
scientific literature. Mental well-being captures both the
hedonic and eudaimonic perspectives on well-being.
Whereas the hedonic perspective refers to the affective
or ‘feeling good’dimension of well-being (i.e. happiness,
life-satisfaction and positive affect)  the eudaimonic
perspective refers to the psychological functioning or
‘living well’dimension of well-being (e.g. social contribu-
tion, positive relationships with others and personal
growth) [2, 3]. Traditionally, most (socioeconomic) re-
search has been conducted on the hedonic perspective
with the use of single-item or brief subjective well-being
measures such as the Satisfaction with Life Scale , the
Subjective Happiness Scale  and the Positive and
Negative Affectivity Scale . While these measures are
firmly rooted in research and practice, the availability
and use of measures to capture the social and psycho-
logical well-being dimensions lags behind.
A few decades ago, researchers started to unravel the
core aspects of the eudaimonic perspective. Ryff  de-
fined six core dimensions of psychological well-being
(self-acceptance, purpose in life, environmental mastery,
positive relationships, personal growth and autonomy),
based on an extensive review of humanistic, existential
and developmental theories. Keyes  identified five
core dimensions of social well-being (social acceptance,
social actualization, social contribution, social coherence
and social integration) originating from sociological and
social psychological theories. These social and psycho-
logical core aspects of well-being are united in the
comprehensive Mental Health Continuum-Short Form
(MHC-SF) which also measures hedonic (subjective)
well-being [7, 8]. There are a few other comprehensive
generic well-being instruments available, such as the
WHO Five Well-being Index  and the Warwick-
Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale . However, in
order to complement existing measures of the hedonic
perspective, for example in epidemiological and socio-
economic research, there is also a need for instruments
assessing only the core dimensions of the eudaimonic
perspective. Therefore, Diener et al.  have recently
developed the brief and comprehensive Flourishing
Scale (FS) based on humanistic and eudaimonic well-
Today, the FS is widely used in well-being intervention
studies and clinical practice, probably due to its briefness,
simplicity and comprehensiveness. The FS has already
been translated into 17 languages and measures the core
aspects of social-psychological functioning, namely pur-
pose and meaning, supportive relationships, engagement,
contribution to the well-being of others, competence, self-
acceptance, optimism, and being respected. The growing
popularity of the FS might also be a consequence of its at-
tractive name, suggesting that the scale measures ‘flourish-
ing’. However, most researchers have defined flourishing
as a state where high levels of subjective well-being and
high levels of social-psychological well-being are achieved
[12–14]. As such, the scale’s name may be somewhat
confusing because it only measures social-psychological
well-being and lacks a clear cut-off for having high
levels of social-psychological well-being. Regarding the
development of the scale, its first version was labeled
the Psychological Flourishing Scale and contained 12
items . The revised and final version of the scale
has eight items and was called the Psychological Well-
being scale . Since this name was so similar to
Ryff ’s Scales of Psychological Well-being , the au-
thors re-named their scale to the FS .
Acceptable psychometric properties of the FS have
been found in student samples [11, 17, 18], a full-time
employee sample , a community sample  and in
a national representative population sample . All
these studies found a single factor structure using ex-
ploratory or confirmatory factor analysis (EFA and CFA),
and adequate to excellent reliability with Cronbach’s
alpha values ranging from .78 to .95. Most previous val-
idation studies also supported the convergent validity of
the FS. For example, moderate to strong positive correla-
tions were found for overall psychological well-being (i.e.
Ryff’s Scales of Psychological Well-being and the Basic
Needs Satisfaction Scale) and moderate to strong nega-
tive correlations were found for depression, anxiety and
stress [11, 18, 21]. Yet, the convergent validity of the FS
has mostly been supported by measures of subjective
well-being (i.e. happiness, life-satisfaction and positive
emotions) only [11, 18, 19, 21]. Since the FS measures
core aspects of optimal social-psychological functioning,
more information is needed about how each of these
core aspects (such as competence, self-compassion and
positive relationships) are related to the FS. In addition,
the relationship between eudaimonic well-being and
personality traits has hardly been investigated, although
there are some indications that weak correlations can
be expected. For example, Lamers and colleagues 
found weak positive correlations between subjective,
psychological and social well-being on the one hand
and emotional stability (opposite of neuroticism), extra-
version and conscientiousness on the other.
The current study adds to the psychometric validation
of the FS in several ways. First, we evaluated the internal
and external construct validity of the FS in a sample of
adults with low or moderate levels of well-being which
seems an important target group for public mental
health and well-being intervention studies because low
to moderate well-being increases the risk of developing
mental illness [23–26]. Second, we used item response
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 2 of 10
theory (IRT) analyses to further demonstrate the unidi-
mensionality of the FS and explore its local reliability
(measurement precision) along the underlying con-
tinuum. Third, we further unraveled the convergent val-
idity of the FS using a multitrait matrix. With respect
to convergent validity, we expected to find the follow-
ing gradual pattern of stronger to weaker relationships
with (1) overall well-being, (2) social and psychological
well-being, (3) positive eudaimonic states (i.e. the use
of strengths/competence, optimism, self-compassion,
resilience and positive relationships), (4) hedonic states
(i.e. emotional well-being, positive and negative emo-
tions), (5) psychopathology (i.e. anxiety, depression)
and (6) personality traits (i.e. extraversion, neuroticism,
We used data from the baseline measurement of a
randomized controlled trial in The Netherlands that
evaluated the efficacy of a multicomponent positive
psychology intervention . Participants with low or
moderate levels of well-being were recruited in January
2014 by advertisements in national newspapers and in
an online newsletter of a popular psychology magazine.
In total, 275 participants were included, gave informed
consent and completed the online survey at baseline.
Mean age was 47.8 years (SD = 10.9) with a range from
20 to 67 years. Participants were mainly female (85.8 %),
higher educated (74.6 %) and in paid employment
(67.6 %) (Table 1). While we had excluded individuals
with flourishing mental health (i.e. high levels of both
hedonic and eudaimonic well-being) two weeks prior to
baseline, at baseline there were 21 (7.6 %) respondents
who met the classification criteria for flourishing as
measured with the MHC-SF .
The FS  consists of eight items, each measuring a
core aspect of optimal social-psychological functioning
on a 7-point Likert scale that ranges from 1 (Strongly
disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree). For this study, the ori-
ginal English version of the FS was independently trans-
lated into Dutch by two bilingual native Dutch speakers
(authors PMK and ETB). Both translations were com-
pared and inter-translator differences were carefully
discussed before consensus was reached. The Dutch ver-
sion was used in the current study. All other measures
were also administered in Dutch.
The MHC-SF [8, 28] consists of 14 items which are di-
vided into the three subscales ‘emotional well-being’
(three items), ‘social well-being’(five items), and ‘psycho-
logical well-being’(six items). In addition, the scores on
all 14 items can be averaged into a total well-being
score. Items are answered on a 6-point scale ranging
from 0 (never) to 5 (almost always or always).
The Strength Use Scale (SUS) measures the level of
competence in different settings with 14 items. Each
item is answered on a 6-point scale that ranges from 1
(Strongly disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree) .
of 10 items that assess dispositional optimism versus
pessimism . Four filler items were excluded from
this analysis and of the remaining six, three items
measure optimism and three measure pessimism. The
items are answered on a 5-point scale with a range
from 0 (Strongly disagree) to 4 (Strongly agree). A
total score was obtained for a more optimistic expect-
ation about the future.
The Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form (SCS-SF) is a
12-item measurement used to assess the level of self-
compassion on a 7-point scale that ranges from 1 (Rarely
or never) to 7 (Almost always) .
The Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) is a 6-item inventory
that assesses the ability to bounce back and to cope with
stress or negative life-events . Answers are given on
a 5-point scale that ranges from 1 (Strongly disagree) to
5 (Strongly agree).
Ryff ’s Subscale of Positive Relationships (SPR) is a sub-
scale of Ryff’s Scales of Psychological Well-being . The
SPR has 9 items and a 6-point answer scale that ranges
from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 6 (Strongly agree) .
Table 1 Demographic characteristics of the study sample (N= 275)
Characteristic Mean ± SD or number (%)
Age, years 47.78 ± 10.88
Gender, female 236 (85.8 %)
Low 10 (3.7 %)
Middle 59 (21.7 %)
High 203 (74.6 %)
Married / Registered 118 (42.9 %)
Divorced / Widow 70 (25.5 %)
Never been married 87 (31.6 %)
With partner and children 78 (28.4 %)
With partner without children 76 (27.6 %)
Alone 76 (27.6 %)
With others 45 (16.4 %)
Paid employment 186 (67.6 %)
Unemployed / Unable to work 58 (21.1 %)
Other 31 (11.2 %)
SD standard deviation
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 3 of 10
Positive and negative emotions were assessed with the
modified Differential Emotions Scale (mDES), which
measures the frequency of eight groups of positive emo-
tions and feelings and eight groups of negative emotions
and feelings, with answer categories on a 7-point scale
that ranges from 1 (Not at all) to 7 (Very intense) .
Depression and anxiety symptoms were measured with
the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), an
inventory with two subscales that assess the frequency of
anxiety symptoms (seven items) and depression symp-
toms (seven items) . Answer categories differ for
each item, but all items are answered on a 4-point scale
(0–3). This questionnaire was administered at screening,
around two weeks before the baseline measurement.
Participants with a score above 10 on one or both sub-
scales were excluded from the randomized controlled
trial and, therefore, also from the current study.
In accordance with the national representative
Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2
, we measured the personality traits extraversion and
neuroticism with the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-
Revised Short Scale (EPQ-RS)  and conscientiousness
with the 12-item NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI)
. Extraversion and neuroticism were each measured
with 12 items answered with yes (1) or no (0). The NEO-
FFI has a 5-point scale that ranges from 1 (Strongly
disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree).
Descriptive and distributional statistics of the FS total
scores were determined by the identification of possible
skewness, kurtosis, and floor and ceiling effects. Skew-
ness and kurtosis values between -1 and +1 were consid-
ered indicative of normality, and floor and ceiling effects
were considered present when more than 15 % of the
participants scored the lowest (8) or highest possible
score (56) . There were no missing values on any of
the measures used in this study.
Given the ordinal nature of the items, the unidimension-
ality of the FS was examined using robust maximum likeli-
hood CFA with Satorra-Bentler (SB) scaled statistics. With
the use of LISREL version 8.80 (Scientific Software Inter-
national, Lincolnwood, IL), a one-factor model was fit to
the data. We did not allow error covariances between items
(i.e. shared item variance) because each item corresponds
to one core aspect of social-psychological functioning
which are theoretically distinct. Indicators of a good model
fit were a non-normed fit index (NNFI) and comparative fit
index (CFI) ≥.95, standardized root mean square residual
(SRMS) ≤.08, and root mean square error of approximation
(RMSEA) ≤.06 [40, 41]. The internal consistency of the FS
was examined with Cronbach’s alpha, with a value ≥.70
considered adequate for group-level analyses .
To further determine the internal construct validity of
the FS, we performed Rasch partial credit model ana-
lyses in Winsteps version 3.65 (Winsteps, Chicago, IL).
The Rasch partial credit model is an extension of the
original dichotomous Rasch model specifically designed
for ordinal scales. Fit to the Rasch model provides fur-
ther evidence of unidimensionality, but also allows the
investigation of a scale’s local measurement precision.
Regarding the former, indicators of acceptable item fit
were mean square infit (information-weighted fit statis-
tic) and outfit (outlier sensitive fit statistic) values be-
tween .70 and 1.30 . The infit statistic is sensitive to
outliers on those items that are close to the abilities of a
person, and the outfit statistic is sensitive to outliers on
all items independent from the person’s level of well-
being . Also, a test information curve was obtained
for examining the local measurement precision of the
scale along the latent social-psychological well-being
continuum. Overall reliability was examined with the
person reliability measure, which is the Rasch-based ver-
sion of Cronbach’s alpha. Rasch person reliability is the
proportion of observed variance that is free from meas-
urement error. In practice, values around .80 are consid-
ered acceptable .
The external construct validity of the FS was exam-
ined with a wide variety of measures as detailed above.
Pearson correlation coefficients were used to evaluate
the convergent validity as a gradual pattern of de-
creasing correlations with an expected strongest rela-
tion between FS and MHC-SF and an expected
weakest relation between FS and personality traits. Bi-
variate correlations were obtained using SPSS version
21.0 (IBM, Chicago, IL).
The mean total score on the FS was 41.4 [Standard devi-
ation (SD) = 6.5] with a range from 13 to 53. Mean
scores on the individual items ranged from 4.7 to 5.5, on
a scale of 1 to 7. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the
total scores on the FS, which were skewed towards
higher scores on optimal social-psychological function-
ing (Kolmogorov-Smirnov, p< .001), with a skewness
value of −1.46 and a kurtosis value of 2.99. There were
no floor or ceiling effects since no participants scored
either 8 or 56. These descriptive and distribution statis-
tics suggest that the majority of our sample perceived
themselves positively on the main aspects of social-
Internal construct validity
Results of the CFA revealed good fit indices for a one-
factor model, supporting the unidimensional structure of
the FS. All indices were within the recommended range
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 4 of 10
for good fit: SB χ
(20) = 39.59, NNFI = .98, CFI = .99,
SRMR = .05, RMSEA (90 % CI) = .06 (.03–.09). Figure 2
shows the standardized factor loadings and the item
residuals. Factor loadings ranged between .53 for item
2 and .76 for item 1. Additionally, the FS showed
good internal consistency with a Cronbach alpha co-
efficient of .86.
The unidimensionality of the scale was further con-
firmed by an adequate fit to the Rasch model. Most
items performed within the range of good fit (0.7–1.3),
except for minor misfit of the infit and outfit values for
item 2 and the outfit value for item 5 (Table 2). The item
difficulty in logits shows that item 1 was the most diffi-
cult to endorse (1.01 logits) and item 8 was the easiest
to endorse (−.65). The Rasch person reliability was .79, in-
dicating adequate reliability for group-level comparisons.
However, the test information curve (Fig. 3) showed that
the scale had adequate measurement precision across a ra-
ther limited range of the continuum with a clear peak at
relatively lower to moderate levels of well-being (r> .70).
Logits of this peak were between −2.7 and 1.2 and corres-
pond to approximate total sum scores on the FS between
16 and 43. In other words, the level of optimal well-being
in our sample was measured most accurately in individuals
with average or below average levels of social-psychological
functioning. The assessment in individuals with high levels
of social-psychological functioning was less accurate.
External construct validity
Table 3 shows that the FS correlated most strongly with the
MHC-SF (r= .58), followed by its subscales for social and
psychological well-being (r=.50–.58). The FS also showed
a strong correlation with use of strengths (r= .55). Moder-
ate to strong correlations were found for most other
positive eudaimonic states (r= .35 to .46) and for the
relation between the FS and emotional well-being (r
= .40). We found weak to moderate correlations for
other indicators of hedonic states (r=.15 and −.19), for
psychopathology (r=−.17 and −.34) and for personality
traits (r= .23 to .32). Contrary to our expectations, the
weakest correlations with the FS were found for posi-
tive emotions, negative emotions, anxiety symptoms
and resilience (r=.15 to −.19), and not for personality
traits. All correlations with the FS were statistically sig-
nificant (p< .01) and in the expected direction.
This is the first study to evaluate the internal and exter-
nal construct validity of the Flourishing Scale in a sam-
ple of 275 adults with suboptimal well-being. Robust
CFA and item response theory analysis supported prior
findings for the unidimensionality of the scale and dem-
onstrated satisfactory item fit. However, the Rasch re-
sults also showed that social-psychological functioning
was most adequately measured across a rather limited
Fig. 1 Distribution of total scores of the Flourishing Scale
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 5 of 10
range of its continuum. The convergent validity of the
FS was partially supported by our data.
The Rasch analysis demonstrated adequate overall reli-
ability and good item fit for most items. However, there
was some misfit for item 2 (i.e. ‘My social relationships
are supportive and rewarding’) and item 5 (i.e. ‘Iam
competent and capable in the activities that are import-
ant to me’). Misfit values slightly exceeded the boundary
of 1.30, suggesting that these items showed more ob-
served variance than was expected in the model. Repli-
cations in other samples are needed to determine
whether revision of the items is necessary.
An intriguing result concerns the positive skewness of
the FS. Despite the fact that we excluded individuals
with high levels of well-being (i.e. flourishing mental
health) two weeks before the baseline measurement—as
measured with the MHC-SF—the total scores on the FS
were rather skewed towards higher social-psychological
functioning in agreement with prior validation studies.
For example, our mean score of 41.4 (SD = 6.5) is only
slightly lower than the mean scores found in a general
population sample (mean = 43.8, SD = 8.4) , an em-
ployee sample (mean = 42.9, SD = 6.1)  and different
student samples (most means were between 44.5 and
46.7 [11, 17, 19], except for one study that found a mean
score of 36.6 ). Thus, while the MHC-SF and FS
both predominantly intend to measure the eudaimonic
perspective of well-being, our findings could indicate
that both instruments actually measure different aspects
of optimal social-psychological functioning. For example,
Table 2 Rasch item parameters (partial credit model) and fit statistics of the Flourishing Scale
Item difficulty in logits (SE) Infit MNSQ Outfit MNSQ
1. I lead a purposeful and meaningful life 1.01 (0.07) 0.81 0.86
2. My social relationships are supportive and rewarding −0.24 (0.07) 1.35 1.34
3. I am engaged and interested in my daily activities 0.08 (0.08) 0.89 0.87
4. I actively contribute to the happiness and well-being of others −0.30 (0.08) 0.98 0.95
5. I am competent and capable in the activities that are important to me 0.21 (0.08) 1.08 1.47
6. I am a good person and live a good life −0.47 (0.08) 0.93 0.88
7. I am optimistic about my future 0.35 (0.07) 1.05 1.01
8. People respect me −0.65 (0.09) 0.84 0.78
Higher positive logit scores indicate more difficult items. SE standard error, MNSQ mean square
Fig. 2 Standardized factor loadings and residuals for the eight items of the Flourishing Scale
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 6 of 10
the FS contains items about competence, engagement
and optimism while these eudaimonic aspects are not
specifically questioned in the MHC-SF . More re-
search into consequences of the positive skewness of the
FS is needed, for instance, by validating the FS in clinical
samples where a more normally-distributed level of
social-psychological well-being could be expected.
Moreover, our research also demonstrated that
social-psychological functioning was most reliably
measured between scores of 16 and 43, scores that
correspond to the ‘very low’and ‘low’population
norm classifications of Diener . Thus, participants
in a variety of samples (including the present sample)
tend to score high on the FS, but measurement preci-
sion in the present sample showed that high social-
psychological functioning was less adequately mea-
sured. Therefore, our results suggest that the FS may
benefit from more differentiation in the difficulty of
the items by including items that are indicative for
higher levels of well-being or items that can better
discriminate between the moderate and high end of
the social-psychological continuum. Measurement pre-
cision across a broader range of the continuum is
especially important when researchers want to exam-
ine individual changes in well-being scores and the
transition from low or moderate well-being to high
well-being, which is often the main aim in well-being
intervention studies. Overall, the operationalization of
eudaimonic well-being and its core aspects warrant
further investigation, as well as research about ad-
equate cut-off values for ‘high eudaimonic well-being’.
formation is available about the theoretical foundation
of the FS , especially concerning a solid overarch-
ing theory and the rationale for including some eudai-
monic concepts whilst ignoring others.
Regarding convergent validity, our results largely con-
firmed the hypothesized gradual pattern of descending
correlations between the FS and the MHC-SF, positive
eudaimonic states, hedonic states, psychopathology, and
personality traits respectively. While we found a strong
relationship between the FS and MHC-SF, its correlation
of r= .58 was considerably lower than a priori could be
expected. Noteworthy, the MHC-SF showed a similar
gradual pattern of correlations from closely to more dis-
tant related measures, but with consistently higher cor-
relations compared to the FS. Despite the fact that the
MHC-SF showed moderate to strong correlations with
depression and neuroticism, these findings suggest that
the MHC-SF may have superior convergent validity
compared to the FS.
Strikingly, we found lower than expected correlations
between the FS and most positive eudaimonic states, such
as self-compassion and optimism. An explanation might
be that the items of the FS are too broadly phrased which
may diffuse their relation with their underlying individual
constructs. Another explanation might be that our sample
was too homogenous by excluding people with flourishing
mental health. However, prior studies also found predom-
inantly moderate to strong correlations with eudaimonic
well-being measures of which the highest correlations
were only around .70 for some subscales of Ryff’s Scales of
Psychological Well-being and the ‘competency’subscale of
the Basic Needs Satisfaction Scale .
Furthermore, while the hedonic perspective is not rep-
resented in the eight items of the FS, the relationship be-
tween the FS and emotional well-being was not much
lower than for the observed correlations between the FS
and measures of positive eudaimonic states. This result
corroborates with the view that hedonic and eudaimonic
well-being are distinct but overlapping perspectives of
well-being . However, we found lower correlations
compared to prior FS validation studies which found
moderate or even strong correlations between the FS
and measures of the hedonic perspective [11, 18, 19, 21],
raising again the question how eudaimonic well-being
should be operationalized . In sum, our findings may
point to limited external validity of the FS, at least in
comparison with the MHC-SF.
Our study was limited by the representativeness of the
sample. Participants were self-selected adults with low
or moderate levels of well-being (without elevated levels
of clinical symptomatology) who were motivated to im-
prove their well-being with a positive psychology inter-
vention. Also, female and highly-educated participants
were overrepresented. Another limitation of the study
was the inability to examine the temporal stability and
Fig. 3 Test information curve of the Flourishing Scale (FS) in relation
to the Rasch score. Higher positive logit scores indicate higher social-
psychological functioning. Test information values of 3.33 and 10
(dashed lines) correspond to a reliability of .70 and .90, respectively.
Logit values of −7, −3, 0, 1, and 7 correspond to approximate total
sum scores on the FS of 11, 16, 38, 43, and 55 respectively
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 7 of 10
Table 3 Multitrait matrix of the Flourishing Scale and other measures
FS MHC-SF SWB PWB SUS SCS-SF LOT-R SPR BRS EWB mDES Pos mDES Neg HADS-A HADS-D Extr Neur
1. Overall well-being
MHC-SF .58*** (.88)
2. Social and psychological well-being
SWB .50*** .88*** (.70)
PWB .58*** .92*** .68*** (.79)
3. Positive eudaimonic states
SUS .55*** .58*** .47*** .60*** (.95)
SCS-SF .35*** .58*** .48*** .54*** .42*** (.85)
LOT-R .45*** .50*** .42*** .46*** .39*** .46*** (.74)
SPR .46*** .48*** .44*** .47*** .29*** .30*** .32*** (.82)
BRS .16** .31*** .18** .33*** .33*** .46*** .36*** .11 (.83)
4. Hedonic states
EWB .40*** .80*** .56*** .66*** .39*** .48*** .43*** .32*** .31*** (.80)
mDES Pos .15* .22*** .13* .25*** .19** .08 .15* .08 .10 .20** (.56)
mDES Neg −.19** −.23*** −.19** −.21** −.13* −.20** −.15* −.24*** −.13* −.23*** .27*** (.72)
HADS-A −.17** −.27*** −.28*** −.22*** −.13* −.36*** −.24*** −.12* −.15** −.22*** −.05 .27*** (.76)
HADS-D −.34*** −.49*** −.36*** −.44*** −.27*** −.31*** −.30*** −.28*** −.22*** −.52*** −.27*** .22*** .34*** (.76)
6. Personality traits
Extraversion .23*** .29*** .25*** .28*** .36*** .18** .23*** .34*** .24*** .20** .09 −.11 .05 −.13* (.84)
Neuroticism −.24*** −.40*** −.31*** −.37*** −.24*** −.55*** −.41*** −.31*** −.53*** −.36*** −.06 .21*** .39*** .24*** −.15* (.78)
Conscient-iousness .32*** .29*** .20** .33*** .37*** .17** .18** .17** .24*** .20** .10 −.10 −.07 −.26*** .09 −.14*
BRS Brief Resilience Scale, EWB Emotional well-being subscale of the MHC-SF, Extr Extraversion, FS Flourishing Scale, HADS-A Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-Anxiety Subscale, HADS-D Hospital Anxiety and
Depression Scale-Depression Subscale, LOT-R Life Orientation Test-Revised (optimism), mDES Neg modified Differential Emotions Scale, negative emotions, mDES Pos modified Differential Emotions Scale, positive emotions, MHC-SF Mental
Health Continuum-Short Form, Neur Neuroticism, PWB Psychological well-being subscale of the MHC-SF,SCS-SF Self-compassion Scale-Short Form, SPR Ryff’s Subscale of Positive Relationships, SUS Strengths Use Scale, SWB
Social well-being subscale of the MHC-SF
Cronbach’s alphas are in parentheses. Coefficients ≥.50 are in bold
*p< .05, ** p< .01, *** p< .001
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 8 of 10
responsiveness of the FS in our study. The test-retest
reliability of the scale has only been examined by
Diener and colleagues , who used a student sample
and a time interval of one month. For the use of the
FS in longitudinal and intervention studies, it is essen-
tial that future studies establish the stability of the FS
and its sensitivity to change. Finally, due to the low
Cronbach’s alpha of .56 for positive emotions in our
sample, its correlational results should be interpreted
with some caution.
Researchers, practitioners and governments are increas-
ingly interested in the concept of mental well-being and
flourishing, but the majority of epidemiological studies
have only included brief subjective well-being measures
(typically containing one to five items) alongside eco-
nomic, social and health indicators . Therefore, it
seems important to include the FS as a complementary
measure to more fully capture mental well-being in the
general population. From a public mental health and
societal perspective, it is also important to improve
social-psychological functioning because flourishing pro-
tects against the development of mental disorders later
in life [39–42]. The current study indicates that the FS
might be most appropriate for use in epidemiological
studies alongside an existing hedonic measure, but its
use in well-being intervention studies and clinical prac-
tice might be debatable. In particular, we found positive
skewness of the FS in a sample of people with subopti-
mal well-being, the FS lacked measurement precision
at higher levels of social-psychological functioning and
demonstrated relatively low correlations with overall
well-being and positive eudaimonic states. In sum, the
Dutch version of the FS appears to be a reliable tool
spective in adults with low or moderate levels of well-
being, but researchers and practitioners should be
aware of its possible limitations as a standalone meas-
ure of flourishing.
Ethics approval and consent
This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the
University of Twente (number 13212). All participants
gave online informed consent.
Availability of data and materials
The data used in this study are available upon request
from the corresponding author.
BRS: Brief Resilience Scale; CFA: confirmatory factor analysis; CFI: comparative
fit index; EFA: exploratory factor analysis; EPQ-RSS: Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire-Revised Short Scale; EWB: emotional well-being subscale;
Extr: extraversion; FS: Flourishing Scale; HADS: Hospital Anxiety and
Depression Scale; IRT: item response theory; LOT-R: Life Orientation Test-
Revised; m-DES: modified Differential Emotions Scale; MHC-SF: Mental Health
Continuum-Short Form; MNSQ: mean square; NEO-FFI: NEO Five Factor
Inventory; Neur: neuroticism; NNFI: non-normed fit index; PWB: psychological
well-being subscale; RMSEA: root mean square error of approximation;
SB: Satorra-Bentler; SCS-SF: Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form; SD: standard
deviation; SE: standard error; SPR: Subscale of Positive Relationships;
SRMS: standardized root mean square residual; SUS: Strength Use Scale;
SWB: social well-being subscale.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
PMK and ETB conceived the study. MS contributed to the design and
coordination of the study, wrote the manuscript and performed statistical
analyses. PMK performed statistical analyses, helped to draft the manuscript
and provided critical review. CHCD, MEP and ETB were involved in drafting
the manuscript and provided critical review. LB and JAW revised the paper
critically. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors received no funding for the research conducted in the current
study and for writing the manuscript.
Received: 25 November 2015 Accepted: 9 March 2016
1. Diener E. Subjective well-being. Psychol Bull. 1984;95(3):542–75.
2. Keyes CLM. Social well-being. Soc Psychol Q. 1998;121–140.
3. Ryff CD. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of
psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989;57(6):1069.
4. Diener E, Emmons RA, Larsen RJ, Griffin S. The satisfaction with life scale.
J Pers Assess. 1985;49(1):71–5.
5. Lyubomirsky S, Lepper HS. A measure of subjective happiness: preliminary
reliability and construct validation. Soc Indic Res. 1999;46(2):137–55.
6. Watson D, Clark LA, Tellegen A. Development and validation of brief
measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. J Pers Soc
7. Keyes CL. Mental illness and/or mental health? Investigating axioms
of the complete state model of health. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005;
8. Keyes CL, Wissing M, Potgieter JP, Temane M, Kruger A, van Rooy S. Evaluation
of the mental health continuum-short form (MHC-SF) in setswana-speaking
South Africans. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2008;15(3):181–92.
9. Bech P. Health-related quality of life measurements in the assessment of
pain clinic results. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1999;43(9):893–6.
10. Tennant R, Hiller L, Fishwick R, Platt S, Joseph S, Weich S, Parkinson J, Secker J,
Stewart-Brown S. The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS):
development and UK validation. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2007;5:63.
11. Diener E, Wirtz D, Tov W, Kim-Prieto C, Choi D-w, Oishi S, Biswas-Diener R.
New well-being measures: short scales to assess flourishing and positive
and negative feelings. Soc Indic Res. 2009;97(2):143–56.
12. Seligman MEP. Flourish: a visionary understanding of happiness and well-
being. New York: Free Press; 2011.
13. Keyes CL. The mental health continuum: from languishing to flourishing in
life. J Health Soc Behav. 2002;207–222.
14. Hone LC, Jarden A, Schofield GM, Duncan S. Measuring flourishing: The
impact of operational definitions on the prevalence of high levels of
wellbeing. Int J Wellbeing. 2014;4(1):62–90.
15. Diener E, Biswas-Diener R. Happiness: unlocking the mysteries of
psychological wealth. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd; 2008.
16. Diener E, Wirtz D, Biswas-Diener R, Tov W, Kim-Prieto C, Choi D-w, Oishi S.
New measures of well-being. In: Diener E, editor. Assessing well-being: the
collected works of Ed Diener. The Netherlands: Springer; 2009.
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 9 of 10
17. Howell AJ, Buro K. Measuring and predicting student well-being: further
evidence in support of the flourishing scale and the scale of positive and
negative experiences. Soc Indic Res. 2014;121(3):903–15.
18. Sumi K. Reliability and validity of Japanese versions of the flourishing scale
and the scale of positive and negative experience. Soc Indic Res. 2013;
19. Silva AJ, Caetano A. Validation of the flourishing scale and scale of
positive and negative experience in Portugal. Soc Indic Res. 2011;
20. Tang X, Duan W, Wang Z, Liu T. Psychometric evaluation of the simplified
Chinese version of flourishing scale. Res Soc Work Pract. 2014.
21. Hone L, Jarden A, Schofield G. Psychometric properties of the flourishing
scale in a New Zealand sample. Soc Indic Res. 2013;119(2):1031–45.
22. Lamers SMA, Westerhof GJ, Kovács V, Bohlmeijer ET. Differential relationships in
the association of the big five personality traits with positive mental health
and psychopathology. J Res Pers. 2012;46(5):517–24.
23. Keyes CLM, Dhingra SS, Simoes EJ. Change in level of positive mental health
as a predictor of future risk of mental illness. Am J Public Health. 2010;
24. Grant F, Guille C, Sen S. Well-being and the risk of depression under stress.
PLoS One. 2013;8(7), e67395.
25. Lamers SMA, Westerhof GJ, Glas CAW, Bohlmeijer ET. The bidirectional
relation between positive mental health and psychopathology in a
longitudinal representative panel study.JPositPsychol.2015;10(6):
26. Wood AM, Joseph S. The absence of positive psychological (eudemonic)
well-being as a risk factor for depression: a ten year cohort study. J Affect
27. Schotanus-Dijkstra M, Drossaert CH, Pieterse ME, Walburg JA,
Bohlmeijer ET. Efficacy of a multicomponent positive psychology
self-help intervention: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial.
JMIR Res Protoc. 2015;4(3), e105.
28. Lamers SM, Westerhof GJ, Bohlmeijer ET, ten Klooster PM, Keyes CL.
Evaluating the psychometric properties of the Mental Health Continuum-
Short Form (MHC-SF). J Clin Psychol. 2011;67(1):99–110.
29. Govindji R, Linley PA. Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being:
implications for strengths coaching and coaching psychologists. Int Coach
Psychol Rev. 2007;2(2):143–53.
30. Ten Klooster P, Weekers A, Eggelmeijer F, Van Woerkom J, Drossaert C, Taal
E, Rasker J, Baneke J. Optimisme en/of pessimisme: factorstructuur van de
Nederlandse Life Orientation Test-Revised. Psychologie en Gezondheid.
31. Raes F, Pommier E, Neff KD, Van Gucht D. Construction and factorial
validation of a short form of the self‐compassion scale. Clin Psychol
32. Smith BW, Dalen J, Wiggins K, Tooley E, Christopher P, Bernard J. The brief
resilience scale: assessing the ability to bounce back. Int J Behav Med. 2008;
33. van Dierendonck D. Handleiding Positive Geestelijke Gezondheids Schaal
(PGGS) Versie 05. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam; 2011.
34. Schaefer A, Nils F, Sanchez X, Philippot P. Assessing the effectiveness of a
large database of emotion-eliciting films: a new tool for emotion
researchers. Cogn Emot. 2010;24(7):1153–72.
35. Spinhoven P, Ormel J, Sloekers PP, Kempen GI, Speckens AE, Van
Hemert AM. A validation study of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression
Scale (HADS) in different groups of Dutch subjects. Psychol Med.
36. de Graaf R, Ten Have M, van Dorsselaer S. The Netherlands Mental Health
Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2): design and methods. Int J
Methods Psychiatr Res. 2010;19(3):125–41.
37. Sanderman R, Arrindell WA, Ranchor AV, Eysenck HJ, Eysenck SBG. Het
meten van persoonlijkheidskenmerken met de Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire (EPQ) (Measuring personality traits with the Eysenck
Personality Questionnaire). Groningen: Noordelijk Centrum voor
Gezondheidsvraagstukken (RUG); 1995.
38. Costa RJ, McCrae RR. Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and the
Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). Professional Manual. Odessa: Psychological
Assessment Resources Inc.; 1995.
39. Terwee CB, Bot SD, de Boer MR, van der Windt DA, Knol DL, Dekker J, Bouter
LM, de Vet HC. Quality criteria were proposed for measurement properties of
health status questionnaires. J Clin Epidemiol. 2007;60(1):34–42.
40. Hu L, Bentler PM. Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure
analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Struct Equ Model.
41. Browne MW, Cudeck R. Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In: Bollen
AK, Long JS, editors. Testing structural equation models. Newbury Park:
Sage Publications; 1993.
42. Lohr KN. Assessing health status and quality-of-life instruments: attributes
and review criteria. Qual Life Res. 2002;11(3):193–205.
43. Wright BD, Linacre JM, Gustafson JE, Martin-Lof P. Reasonable mean-square
fit values. Rasch Meas Trans. 1994;8(3):370.
44. Tennant A, Conaghan PG. The Rasch measurement model in
rheumatology: what is it and why use it? When should it be applied,
and what should one look for in a Rasch paper? Arthritis Care Res
45. Linacre JM. A user’s guide to WINSTEPS MINISTEP. Rasch-model computer
programs. Chicago IL: Winsteps.com; 2006.
46. Diener E. Scoring instructions for scales. http://internal.psychology.
Accessed 26 January 2016.
47. Huta V, Ryan RM. Pursuing pleasure or virtue: the differential and
overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. J
Happiness Stud. 2009;11(6):735–62.
48. Huta V, Waterman AS. Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia:
developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual
and operational definitions. J Happiness Stud. 2013;15(6):1425–56.
• We accept pre-submission inquiries
• Our selector tool helps you to ﬁnd the most relevant journal
• We provide round the clock customer support
• Convenient online submission
• Thorough peer review
• Inclusion in PubMed and all major indexing services
• Maximum visibility for your research
Submit your manuscript at
Submit your next manuscript to BioMed Central
and we will help you at every step:
Schotanus-Dijkstra et al. BMC Psychology (2016) 4:12 Page 10 of 10
Terms and Conditions
Springer Nature journal content, brought to you courtesy of Springer Nature Customer Service Center GmbH (“Springer Nature”).
Springer Nature supports a reasonable amount of sharing of research papers by authors, subscribers and authorised users (“Users”), for small-
scale personal, non-commercial use provided that all copyright, trade and service marks and other proprietary notices are maintained. By
purposes, Springer Nature considers academic use (by researchers and students) to be non-commercial.
These Terms are supplementary and will apply in addition to any applicable website terms and conditions, a relevant site licence or a personal
subscription. These Terms will prevail over any conflict or ambiguity with regards to the relevant terms, a site licence or a personal subscription
(to the extent of the conflict or ambiguity only). For Creative Commons-licensed articles, the terms of the Creative Commons license used will
We collect and use personal data to provide access to the Springer Nature journal content. We may also use these personal data internally within
ResearchGate and Springer Nature and as agreed share it, in an anonymised way, for purposes of tracking, analysis and reporting. We will not
otherwise disclose your personal data outside the ResearchGate or the Springer Nature group of companies unless we have your permission as
While Users may use the Springer Nature journal content for small scale, personal non-commercial use, it is important to note that Users may
use such content for the purpose of providing other users with access on a regular or large scale basis or as a means to circumvent access
use such content where to do so would be considered a criminal or statutory offence in any jurisdiction, or gives rise to civil liability, or is
falsely or misleadingly imply or suggest endorsement, approval , sponsorship, or association unless explicitly agreed to by Springer Nature in
use bots or other automated methods to access the content or redirect messages
override any security feature or exclusionary protocol; or
share the content in order to create substitute for Springer Nature products or services or a systematic database of Springer Nature journal
In line with the restriction against commercial use, Springer Nature does not permit the creation of a product or service that creates revenue,
royalties, rent or income from our content or its inclusion as part of a paid for service or for other commercial gain. Springer Nature journal
content cannot be used for inter-library loans and librarians may not upload Springer Nature journal content on a large scale into their, or any
other, institutional repository.
content on this website and may remove it or features or functionality at our sole discretion, at any time with or without notice. Springer Nature
may revoke this licence to you at any time and remove access to any copies of the Springer Nature journal content which have been saved.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, Springer Nature makes no warranties, representations or guarantees to Users, either express or implied
with respect to the Springer nature journal content and all parties disclaim and waive any implied warranties or warranties imposed by law,
including merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.
Please note that these rights do not automatically extend to content, data or other material published by Springer Nature that may be licensed
from third parties.
If you would like to use or distribute our Springer Nature journal content to a wider audience or on a regular basis or in any other manner not
expressly permitted by these Terms, please contact Springer Nature at