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Leveraging The First Comprehensive Measure Of Primal World Beliefs To Further Discussions In Political, Developmental, And Positive Psychology

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Abstract

If behavior is influenced by the perceived character of situations, many disciplines that study behavior may eventually need to take into account individual differences in the perceived character of the world. In the first effort to empirically map these perceptions, subjects varied on 26 dimensions, called primal world beliefs or primals, such as the belief that the world is abundant. This dissertation leverages the first comprehensive measure of primals to further discussions in political, developmental, clinical, and positive psychology. Chapter I challenges the consensus that political conservativism is distinguished by the belief that the world is dangerous. Results suggest previous research relied on a measure highlighting dangers conservatives fear and neglecting dangers liberals fear, when both perceive the world as almost equally dangerous (8 samples; total N=3,734). A novel account of political ideology is proposed based on more predictive primals. Chapter II discusses how primals might develop. The author distinguishes retrospective theories—where primals reflect the content of past experiences—from interpretive theories—where primals act as lenses for interpreting experiences while remaining uninfluenced by them—and suggests twelve ways each theory’s relative merit can be empirically tested. A novel comprehensive framework for considering experiences in relation to any new construct is also proposed. Chapter III explores primals’ wellbeing-related correlates. By showing that many parents aim to teach negative primals to their children, some prevalence for meta-beliefs (i.e., beliefs about beliefs) associating negative primals with positive outcomes is established. Study 2 tests these meta-beliefs in six samples (total N=4,535) in regards to eight outcomes: job success, job satisfaction, emotion, depression, suicide, physical health, life satisfaction, and flourishing. Results indicate that negative primals are almost always associated with modestly to dramatically worse outcomes, across and within professions. In addition to filling a literature gap, and establishing bases for future comparison studies, findings could be used to strengthen interventions by undermining counterproductive meta-beliefs. Findings also underscore the urgent need for further research on the impact of primal world beliefs—teaching children or anyone that the world is a bad place in order to protect or prepare them may be ill-advised.

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... For research uses, a guide to administering the Primals Inventory and selecting among versions is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.26716.72320. When length allows, we recommend starting research efforts with the PI-99 because intuitions have been wrong about which primals are relevant (e.g., dangerous world belief appears uncorrelated to political conservatism, Clifton, 2020a). When length precludes the PI-99, the PI-18 is likely the best balance of brevity and granularity. ...
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In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this new perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experiences of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.
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This paper assesses the relationships among three variables: the degree to which individuals believe the world to be just; job loss; and depressive symptomatology. Using self-consistency and identity theory, we postulate that for those individuals who have recently lost a job, those who strongly believe that the world is just are more likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who have little belief that the world is just, and that such an event does not result in the weakening of the belief. Using questionnaire data from a random sample of 283 adult citizens of Northern Ireland, these observations are confirmed. The findings from this initial research effort are discussed in terms of self maintenance theories together with implications for the study of mental health.
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Introduction To study life satisfaction and to test the role of social reference in determining the degree of life satisfaction, we examined a large sample of undergraduate students in China for the correlates of campus life satisfaction. Methods A questionnaire survey was administered at a university and the final sample consisted of 439 respondents aged between 17 and 24 years, from all over the country, and studying different subjects. Results It was found that freshman students tended to score higher on their life satisfaction than students in other grades and the college students’ life satisfaction was positively related to female gender, self-esteem, social support, and the liberal attitudes on female gender roles, but negatively correlated with depression and suicidal ideation. Conclusions Contrary to common beliefs, students from an urban area or from better-off families were not necessarily more satisfied with current life than those students coming from the countryside or low income families. The findings were accounted for by the social reference theory and in this case college students’ campus life satisfaction is basically affected by their pre-college life quality as a reference.