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Primal world beliefs ("primals") are beliefs about the basic character of the world (e.g., "the world is an abundant place"). The first effort to empirically map primals identified over two dozen such beliefs. The four highest-order beliefs--the overall belief that the world is Good (vs. bad), followed by Good's three dimensions of Safe (vs. dangerous), Enticing (vs. dull), and Alive (vs. mechanistic)-were novel and strongly correlated to many theoretically relevant outcomes such as depression. However, measuring these four beliefs currently requires administering the 99-item Primals Inventory (PI-99) and computing lengthy subscales (71, 29, 28, and 14 items). This article validates briefer measures. Study 1 (N = 459) and Study 2 (N = 5,171) examines the dimensionality, internal reliability, and test-retest reliability of scores on an 18-item measure of Good, Safe, Enticing, and Alive (PI-18). Study 3 (N = 3,947) does the same for a briefer 6-item measure of overall Good world belief (PI-6). Study 4 (N = 5,794) compares both versions to the PI-99 (the gold standard) and 14 of its correlates, including depression and life satisfaction. We conclude by recommending the PI-6 and PI-18 for most research and clinical uses and note that correspondence of three parallel forms implies not only scale accuracy but also robustness of the latent phenomena. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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Psychological Assessment
Brief Measures of the Four Highest-Order Primal World Beliefs
Jeremy D. W. Clifton and David B. Yaden
Online First Publication, July 1, 2021.
Clifton, J. D. W., & Yaden, D. B. (2021, July 1). Brief Measures of the Four Highest-Order Primal World Beliefs. Psychological
Assessment. Advance online publication.
Brief Measures of the Four Highest-Order Primal World Beliefs
Jeremy D. W. Clifton
and David B. Yaden
1, 2
Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Primal world beliefs (primals) are beliefs about the basic character of the world (e.g., the world is an
abundant place). The rst effort to empirically map primals identied over two dozen such beliefs. The four
highest-order beliefs––the overall belief that the world is Go od (vs. bad), followed by Goods three dimensions
of Safe (vs. dangerous), Enticing (vs. dull), and Alive (vs. mechanistic)were novel and strongly correlated to
many theoretically relevant outcomes such as depression. However, measuring these four beliefs currently
requires administeringthe 99-item Primals Inventory (PI-99)and computing lengthy subscales (71, 29,28, and
14 items). This article validates briefer measures. Study 1 (N=459) and Study 2 (N=5,171) examines the
dimensionality, internal reliability, and testretest reliability of scores on an 18-item measure of Good,Safe,
Enticing,andAlive (PI-18). Study 3 (N=3,947) does the same for a briefer 6-item measure of overall Good
world belief (PI-6). Study 4 (N=5,794) compares both versionsto the PI-99 (thegold standard) and 14 of its
correlates, including depression and life satisfaction. We conclude by recommending the PI-6 and PI-18
for most research and clinical uses and note that correspondence of three parallel forms implies not only
scale accuracy but also robustness of the latent phenomena.
Public Signicance Statement
Scientists have found that people vary on four main beliefs about the world that are highly correlated to
personality and mental health: The beliefs that the world is Good,Safe,Enticing, and Alive. But
currently, the only way to measure these beliefs is with a long 99-question survey. This article helps
researchers and clinicians by creating two shorter measures of these important beliefs.
Keywords: measurement, Primals Inventory, primal world beliefs, short-form scale, Good world belief
Supplemental materials:
Rapunzel: Why cant I go outside?
Witch: The outside world is a dangerous place.
People frequently make extremely broad statements about the
worlds basic qualities, such as The world is a shithole, overowing
with garbage and disease(2010 tweet) and The world is beautiful,
youjusthavetolookaround(2021 tweet). Some statements portray
world beliefs as developing, (e.g., a 2021 tweet The older Ive gotten
the more Ive realized the world is dangerous, you gotta be safe and
lookout for yourself) while others aim to manipulate world beliefs to
gain advantage (e.g., the ctional witch teaching Rapunzel the world
is dangerous to make her afraid to leave her tower). While many of
these statements are likely mere expressions, might they sometimes
point to something deeper? This article aims to validate brief ways of
measuring some of these primitive-sounding world beliefs.
Such world beliefs are understudied. Beck (e.g., 1979) organized
depression-inducing beliefs into beliefs about the self, the selfs
future, and the selfs world (i.e., the Cognitive Triad). But in
practice, consistent with Becks intention (personal communication,
March 1st, 2019), world here concerns people in ones immediate
social environment (e.g., My boss hates me). Traumatologist
Janoff-Bulman (1989) suggested humans have hyper-globalized
world schemas that inuence how ambiguity is interpreted across
domains. But the handful of beliefs Janoff-Bulman identied a priori
are conceptually similar and difcult to distinguish empirically
(e.g., Kaler, 2009). In a seminal review of the worldview literature,
Koltko-Rivera (2004) discusses dozens of beliefs about freewill,
God, and so forth, but only one such primitive-sounding belief
concerning overall world nature,called belief in a just world
(BJW) or just world belief.
By far the most-studied world belief, BJW is the view that the world
is a karmicplace where individuals get what they deserve and
deserve what they get (Montada & Lerner, 1998;Nesbit et al., 2012).
This belief is thought to have a cascading causal inuence across
personality and well-being domains (Bartholomaeus & Strelan, 2019).
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Jeremy D. W. Clifton
David B. Yaden
No conict of interest to disclose.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jeremy
D. W. Clifton, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States. Email:
Psychological Assessment
© 2021 American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1040-3590
Correlational (and some experimental) research from a few hundred
studies tie high BJW to (a) working harder, presumably because the
world is expected to reward hard work (e.g., higher-gross domestic
product, Furnham, 1993; higher grades, Dalbert & Stoeber, 2005);
(b) being nicer, presumably because the world rewards kindness and
playing by the rules (e.g., Correia & Dalbert, 2008); (c) being
happier and more successful, presumably because they worked
harder, were nicer, just contexts are pleasant; and just perceptions
provide post hoc rationalizations for success (e.g., increased life
satisfaction Otto et al., 2009); and (d) blaming the unfortunate such
as the sick, presumably because the world punishes fairly (e.g.,
Sakallı-Uğurlu et al., 2007). Could other world beliefs exert a
similarly broad inuence? For example, maybe some optimists
are simply those that happen to think the world is objectively a
good place. Maybe neuroticism is partly driven by the belief the
world is dangerous.
Clifton et al. (2019) made the rst broad-based effort to empiri-
cally map world beliefs. They labeled them primal world beliefs
(primals) to distinguish simple, adjectival, goal-relevant world
beliefs (e.g., the world is dangerous) from metaphysical, inciden-
tal, or historical world beliefs (e.g., the world is composed of 118
chemical elements). Like other descriptive taxonomic efforts (e.g.,
identifying Big Five personality traits), work was pursued with no
particular dependent variables in mind or strong dimensionality
expectations. Ten initial projects sought to identify all major
candidate primal world beliefs. Example projects included the
analysis of over 80,000 tweets beginning with phrases like the
world is; the 840 most-frequently used adjectives derived from
190,000 texts (450 million words); and over 1,700 descriptions of
the world gleaned from 385 of historys most inuential texts,
including: philosophical treatises, religious scriptures, novels, polit-
ical speeches, and lms. This led to the identication of 234 items
representing a reasonably exhaustive list of candidate primals which
were subjected to three rounds of exploratory and conrmatory
factor analyses.
Dimensionality reduction analyses identied 26 hierarchically
arranged dimensions (Figure 1): 22 dimensions at the bottom (tertiary
primals, including just world belief), 17 of which form three clusters
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Figure 1
Denitions and Structure of Primal World Beliefs
Note. 26 primals (22 tertiary, 3 secondary, and 1 primal) were identied by Clifton et al. (2019);gure from Clifton & Kim, 2020).
(secondary primals, informally called Big Three), which in turn
form a supercluster (the primary primal). The primary primal is the
overall belief that the world is a Good (vs. bad) place. The three
secondary primalsessentially the main reasons to see the world as
more or less goodare Safe (vs. dangerous), Enticing (vs. dull), and
Alive (vs. mechanistic)with Alive being less central. All are nor-
mally distributed. Five testretests now suggest high stability over
time (even during the COVID19 pandemic, Ludwig et al., 2021).
Arguably the only two primals that have received previous research
attention are Just and Progressing, both under the Safe cluster.
Promising research directions have emerged from mapping these
beliefs. Based on correlations with theoretically related outcomes
such as depression, suicide ideation, curiosity, neuroticism, trust,
and optimism, the four higher-order primals (Good,Safe,Enticing,
and Alive) appear most clinically relevant (e.g., optimism and Good
correlated at r=.67). Yet currently the only way to measure these
four beliefs is to administer very lengthy subscales from the 99-item
Primals Inventory (PI-99) of 71, 29, 28, and 14 items, respectively
(Clifton et al., 2019). This lengthiness stymies researchers, clin-
icians, and the general public when measuring the very primals most
worth measuring. Shorter measures are needed.
The goal of this brief report is to validate two short Primals
Inventories to measure higher-order primals Good,Safe,Enticing,
and Alive.Therst (PI-6) is a unidimensional 6-item measure of Good
for use when the highest-order primal is the chief interest and space is
limited. The second (PI-18) is a multidimensional 18-item measure of
secondary primals Safe,Enticing,andAlive where pooled items also
measure higher-order Good world belief, as done in the original PI-99
(Clifton et al., 2019) and common among measures of higher- and
lower-order factors (e.g., CES-D, Radloff, 1977; PERMA Proler,
Kern & Butler, 2016; NEO-PI-R, Costa & McCrae, 2008). To create
these two scales, Study 1 and 2 examines the dimensionality, internal
reliability, and testretest reliability of PI-18 scores; Study 3 does the
same for the PI-6; and Study 4 compares both to the PI-99 as the
gold standard through direct score comparison and comparison of
correlational relationships to 14 mental health and demographic
variables in the wider nomological net (e.g., depression).
Our scale-building philosophy for this effort has been called
construction-minded scale-building (Clifton, 2020b). This means
that instead of exploring the shape of latent phenomena, we assume
it is already mapped (by the PI-99) and we must merely construct a
mimicked measured variable with fewer items. A secondary goal
was to retain a few items that tap secondary or tertiary primals for
practical research purposes. For example, if a survey only has room
for the PI-6, it would be helpful if the PI-6 included an item that is
both an adequate indicator of Good and Enticing, so item-level
analysis can suggest relevant secondary primals. Though useful for
research and clinical follow-up, and though this variance should
mostly cancel out in pooled scale scores, intentionally retaining
systematic signal (across subjects not items) not included in the
measurement model will also slightly worsen t statistics, rendering
conrmatory factor analysis (CFA) indices difcult to interpret. For
this reason, studies below report but do not interpret CFA t
statistics, leaving the reader to judge how close is close enough.
Otherwise, item-selection decisions mirrored PI-99 decisions. We
selected items from the initial pool of 234 items (Clifton et al., 2019;
Study 1; N=930; pp. 210217 of their supplement) based on factor
loadings balanced against four additional considerations: language
variety, item response characteristics, retaining reverse-scored
items, and key scale-specic concerns. As for the PI-99, retaining
at least one opposite-scored item was considered essential for
primals measurement, allowing continuum specication (Tay &
Jebb, 2018). The major scale-specic concern was skew; only
affecting Enticing. Retaining top-loading items from a large item
pool resulted in (a) retaining some items in the PI-18 and PI-6 not in
the PI-99, where the target had been tertiary variance, and (b) not
including all PI-18 items in how Good is calculated, as in the PI-99.
See Supplemental Material for methodological details.
Study 1
Starting with the PI-18, Study 1 seeks to conrm the adequacy of
the intended measurement model (three separate subscales for Safe,
Enticing, and Alive and 1 pooled scale for Good) and more generally
test how items behave when greatly reducing items administered.
Of 459 Americans recruited via mTurk in June 2016 (M
36.5 years, SD
=11.7 years), 63% were female, 81% white,
40% currently married, and 67% college graduates. Three subjects
had missing demographic information. We administered the ve-
item Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985)asan
early convergent validity check, comparing relationships to previ-
ous mTurk samples completing the PI-99 (Clifton et al., 2019).
Internal reliability was assessed with standardized Cronbachsα.To
test the measurement model, we conducted scree plot analysis,
minimum average partial analysis, parallel analysis, exploratory
factor analysis, conrmatory factor analysis, and reliability analysis.
All studies received IRB approval.
Results and Discussion
The intended measurement model was the best way to interpret the
data (pp. 510 of Supplemental Material). Only three factors ex-
plained >1 eigenvalue. Scree analysis suggested 34 factors. Mini-
mum average partial analysis suggested three factors. Parallel analysis
suggested four maximum. A 3-factor exploratory factor solution
(PROMAX rotation, EQUAMAX prerotation, k=3) produced sim-
ple structure (salience =.295), explaining just over 100% of item
variance (possiblewhen examining squared multiple correlations).An
inferior four-factor solution produced factors reecting Safe,Enticing,
and Alive, and a fourth less meaningful factor involving six items (four
multiloading) comparatively more associated with Good world belief
(e.g., the top-loading item on the fourth factor was Most things in the
world are goodat .59). CFA indicated the intended model (CFI =
.96, RMSEA =.06) was superior to a model measuring only Safe,
Enticing,andAlive (i.e., excluding higher-order Good;CFI=.83,
RMSEA =.11). In both models, all parameters were signicant per
Wald tests. A one-factor exploratory factor solution had one non-
loading item (The universe doesnt care :::). Compared to previ-
ous mTurk PI-99 studies (Clifton et al., 2019), primals correlated
similarly with sex, age, and life satisfaction, but Enticing items were
more skewed. Internal reliability was adequate at .78 (Safe), .80
(Enticing), .79 (Alive), and .81 (Good). Two items damaged the
reliability of subscale scores (It takes a lot for things to fall apart
and The universe doesnt care ::: ) and also loaded lowest on their
respective factors (.45 and .54). The highest item-total correlation
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
across subscales was .71. Five item-total correlations <.40 were:
It takes a lot for things to fall aparton Safe and Good,andThe
world is a somewhat dull ::: ,”“It feels like dangers ::: ,and
The universe doesnt care ::: on Good, yet these items marginally
damaged reliability.
In sum, Study 1 showed that the intended measurement model
was the best way of understanding item variance: there is an overall
factor and three subfactors. However, not all items performed as
expected in the new item context and there was room for improved
internal reliability. Thus, we chose to exchange a handful of under-
performing items for, in most cases, two items with one aimed at
capturing a third most-related tertiary primal.
Study 2
Study 2 reexamines in a larger sample the dimensionality, internal
reliability, and testretest reliability of scores on the nalized PI-18.
AuthenticHappiness.Org allows members of the public to partic-
ipate in studies and see their scores. Of 5,171 unique respondents
from Feb. 2019 to Dec. 2020, 62% were male, 56% younger than 35,
54% college graduates, and 103 countries were represented, with
most (69%) in the USA. Of these, 322 took the survey additional
times, allowing assessment of testretest reliability via pairwise
correlation. Other analyses are same as Study 1.
Results and Discussion
The PI-18 behaved similarly as it did in Study 1, with some
improvements (pp. 1114 of Supplement Material). Again, only
three factors explained >1 eigenvalue, scree analysis suggested 34
factors, minimum average partial analysis suggested three, parallel
analysis suggested four max. A three-factor exploratory factor
solution (PROMAX rotation, EQUAMAX prerotation, k=3) pro-
duced simple structure (salience =.295) save a single multiloader
(Most things have a habit of getting worse) loading on Safe (.35)
and Enticing (.40). Three factors again explained just over 100% of
item variance. An improbable four-factor solution was considered
anyway, producing an inadequate structure reecting Alive,Safe,
reverse-scored Enticing, and forward-scored Enticing, the latter two
sharing ve multiloaders. CFA suggested the intended model
(CFI =.90, RMSEA =.08) was superior to the model excluding
Good (CFI =.80, RMSEA =.11). All parameters were signicant
per Wald tests and loaded on a one-factor exploratory factor
solution (salience =.295). Internal reliability of scores rose for
all subscales, to α=.88 for Good,toα=.83 for Safe,toα=.83
for Enticing, and to α=.85 for Alive. The only item with an item-
total correlation <.40 was also the only item that damagedalbeit
negligiblyany subscalesinternal reliability of scores (While
some things are worth checking out ::: ), yet it was still the third
highest-loading item on its intended dimension (.65; Enticing).
The highest item-total correlation across subscales was r=.75
(Everything happens for a reason and on purposeon Alive).
Testretest correlations among 322 subjects taking the survey on
average 14.3 days apart ranged from r=.90 to r=.89. However,
because 74% took surveys the same day, we reran analysis on the
26% (n=84) who took surveys at least a day apart (mean 55 days
apart, median 37 days apart), which was r=.76. In sum, in a
sample over 10 times larger than Study 1, the intended measure-
ment model was conrmed, internal reliability increased, and test
retest reliability was found.
Study 3
Study 3 involves the same analysis in Study 2, but this time
examining the PI-6.
The PI-6 was also placed on AuthenticHappiness.Org. Of 3,957
unique respondents, 61% were male, 54% younger than 35, 55%
college graduates, and in 93 countries, with most (63%) in the USA.
Of these, 179 took the PI-6 additional times, allowing testretest
reliability assessment. All analyses are same as Study 2.
Results and Discussion
The intended one-factor model for the PI-6 performed best (pp.
1517 of Supplement Material). Only one factor explained >1
eigenvalue, scree analysis suggested one factor, minimum average
partial analysis suggested one, and parallel analysis suggested two
maximum. A one-factor exploratory factor solution produced simple
structure, even at salience =.50, and explained just over 100% of
item variance. A two-factor solution was considered, but produced
less meaningful factors of entirely forward- and reverse-scored
items. CFA results were CFI =.91 and RMSEA =.17. All param-
eters were signicant per Wald tests. Internal reliability was α=.86
with all items contributing. Item-total correlations ranged from .52
to .71. Testretest reliability was r=.88 among 179 subjects who
took the survey on average 20 days apart and r=.78 among the 53
who took the surveys on different days on average 68 days apart. In
sum, Study 3 conrmed the unidimensional model, with good
internal reliability and testretest reliability.
Study 4
Study 4 compares the PI-6 and PI-18 to each other and the PI-99
as the gold standard.
The PI-99 was also placed on AuthenticHappiness.Org. Of 5,794
unique respondents, 63% were male, 50% younger than 35, 61%
college graduates, and in 105 countries, with most (69%) in the USA.
Sizeable subsamples ranging from 1,848 to 5,793 (Tables S16)took
multiple versions of the Primals Inventory or nonprimal measures.
We compared scores in three ways. First, we correlated primals to
themselves across versions (e.g., comparing PI-6 Good to PI-99
Good among the 1,848 subjects who took both). Second, we com-
pared correlations to the 22 tertiary primals not measured by the PI-6
or PI-18 (e.g., PI-6 Good and PI-99 Good correlations to PI-99
Hierarchical). Third, we compared correlations to 14 demographic
and mental health variables in the wider nomological net. Single items
measured age, gender, and education. Depression was measured
by Radloff (1977) 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies-
Depression (CES-D) scale, which concerns experiences over the
past week, uses a 4-point likert scale, and is validated for nonclinical
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samples (example item: I had crying spells). Life satisfaction was
again measured by the SWLS. The remaining variables were mea-
sured by Butler and Kerns (2016) PERMA Proler. The PERMA
Prolers overall psychological ourishing score pools ve equally
weighted criteria: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, mean-
ing, and accomplishment. These ve subscales are complemented by
additional subscales for health, and negative emotion, which are all
three items each. Loneliness is one item. An example health item is:
Compared to others of your same age and sex, how is your health?
All involve 11 response options (e.g., terrible to excellent).
Results and Discussion
To be a valid measure of the same construct, short-form scales
must strongly correlate with parent scales (criterion validity) and
mimic the parents correlational relationships with other variables
(convergent and divergent validity). Study 4 found strong evidence
of both for both new scales. In samples nearing or above 2,000
subjects, Good,Safe,Enticing, and Alive correlated with themselves
across versions between .82 and .88 (Table 1) and mimicked each
other in relation to 22 other primals (Tables S17, S18, and S19 of
Supplement Material) and 14 other variables in the broader nomo-
logical net (Table 2;Tables S20, S21, S22, S23, and S24). Correla-
tions to these 14 other variables were only |r
|=.03 different and
never (of 84 possibilities) more than |r|=.09 different. For exam-
ple, PI-18 Alive and PI-99 Alive correlated identically with ourish-
ing (both at r=.44) and life satisfaction (both at r=.38). This
convergence was notable given comparisons used subsamples with
at least 50% different subjects, scale administration was not con-
current, and scales were administered in different orders.
General Discussion
Cognitive behavior therapyarguably the most evidence-based
form of psychotherapywas designed based on the underlying
theoretical rationale that an individuals affect and behavior are
largely determined by the way in which he structures his world
through various often primitive-sounding beliefs (Beck et al., 1979,
p. 3). By impacting the interpretations of ambiguity across situa-
tions, Just world belief has been thought for decades to have a
cascading inuence on clinical outcomes like depression and behav-
ior patterns such as perseverance (e.g., Bartholomaeus & Strelan,
2019). Yet Clifton et al.s (2019) effort to map world beliefs found
Just to be unexceptional among 26 world beliefs, being one of
seven facets of Safe world belief, itself a facet of Good world
belief. Moreover, after examining pairwise relationships with over
100 personality, clinical, well-being, religious, political, and demo-
graphic variables in the broader nomological net, many primals
(especially higher-order primals Good,Safe,Enticing, and Alive)
were found to be more highly correlated with theoretically inu-
enced outcomeseven seemingly Just-specic outcomes like per-
severance. Despite the obvious need for further study on the four
neglected higher-order primals (though not entirely unstudied, e.g.,
Janoff-Bulman, 1989), efforts have been hindered by scale length.
Indeed, the PI-99sGood subscale, at 71 items long, is ten times
longer than the average scale in psychology (Cortina et al., 2020).
This article validated two shorter measures that do not trade much
accuracy for brevity. This was possible because the original PI-99s
length was driven by the need to measure 22 tertiary primals.
Numerous items were included in higher-order subscales because
they were available, but above studies conrmonlyafractionare
actually needed. Studies 1 and 2 established the internal reliability,
testretest reliability, and dimensionality of scores on an 18-item
Primals Inventory (PI-18) measuring Good,Safe,Enticing,andAlive.
Study 3 did likewise for a unidimensional 6-item measure of Good
(PI-6). Study 4 then compared new versions to the PI-99, establishing
criterion, concurrent, divergent, and convergent validity. A strength
of our approach was parallel validation of multiple scale versions in
sizeable samples, allowing direct comparison of scores.
A limitation was that testretest reliability samples were relatively
small. Because results are consistent with other PI-18 testretests
(Ludwig et al., 2021), additional PI-6 testretests would be helpful.
Another concern is marginal CFA t statistics (CFI twice approached
.95 and once exceeded it). As noted, some decline was expected
because systematic item-level variance was purposefully retained but
not included in the measurement model. Tables S23, S24, S25, and
S26 of supplement indicate these retained items are indeed capable of
indicating more granular primals, but marginal CFIs nonetheless limit
the PI-6 and PI-18 compared to the PI-99. Given high internal
reliability and convergence across scale versions, we see this as a
reasonable trade-off, allowing more information to be gathered with
fewer items. Another limitation was xed order administration (in
Studies 24). Split-half reliability, invariance, and performance in
pen-and-pencil contexts remain unexamined.
In the process of validating measures, some light was also shed on
the latent phenomena itself. Five years ago, it was not apparent if
primals existed or involved robust signalperhaps too much was
being made of hyperbolic, affect-driven, state-like overgeneralizations
(such as those in the opening paragraph). Clifton et al.s(2019)
validation of the PI-99 established the robustness of tertiary primals
especially, but legitimate questions remained about the newly identi-
ed higher-order primals, especially the 71-item Good subscale,
which concerns not only the most general of environments (the
world) but also the most general of evaluations (goodness)and α
is known to become a useless indicator for scales half as long
(Cortina, 1993). Maybe tertiary primals are robust and can be
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Table 1
Correlating Primals to Themselves as Measured by the PI-6, PI-18, and PI-99
PI-6 PI-18
Variable Good Good Safe Enticing Alive
n1,848 1,947 1,947 1,947 1,947
Same belief measured by the PI-99 .82*.88*.86*.83*.84*
Note. Likewise, PI-18 Good and PI-6 Good correlated at r=.86 (n=2,369).
measured with 45 items sprinkled across 95 other items, but Good
world belief might express a mere artifact of dispositional optimism.
However, the above close correspondence of three alternative Good
subscales (i.e., parallel form reliability), increases condence that
primals exist, are measurable, and are being accurately measured
Good especially. The six-item PI-6 correlated with the PI-99s71-
item subscale at r=.82 and correlated similarly to all 14 mental
health and demographic variables (rvalues were never >.06 different;
=.03). Depression, for example, correlated with PI-99 Good at
r=.54 and PI-6 Good almost the same at r=.51. Some diver-
gence is also due to mere attenuation: more internally reliable scales
inevitably tend to correlate more with other variables and PI-99 Good
is more internally reliable and indeed slightly more correlated to 10of
the 14 variables. In short, the new six-item Good scale appears
essentially equivalent to one nearly 12 times longer.
Though self-report may be unavoidable when measuring primals,
future research could further determine the robustness of primals by
testing more dissimilar self-report approaches. For example, an
ultra-brief single-item scale with 11-reponse options anchored by
opposing adjectives (e.g., very good to very bad) may be sufcient
to capture overall Good world belief. Indeed, that this sort of
barebones approach is even plausible suggests much has been
learned in recent years about the robustness of primal world beliefs.
As primals measurement progresses, we recommend the PI-6 and
PI-18 for research and clinical use. For clinical purposes, the PI-6,
PI-18, and PI-99 remain publicly available at www.AuthenticHa where individuals can identify their primals and how
they differ from the general population. For research uses, a guide to
administering the Primals Inventory and selecting among versions is
available at 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 polit-
ical conservatism, Clifton, 2020a). When length precludes the
PI-99, the PI-18 is likely the best balance of brevity and
granularity. For many clinical purposes, however, the PI-6 may
be the only version many researchers ever need to use.
Bartholomaeus, J., & Strelan, P. (2019). The adaptive, approach-oriented
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Table 2
Primals Measured by the PI-6, PI-18, and PI-99 Correlate Similarly to 14 Mental Health and Demographic Variables in the Wider
Nomological Net
Good Safe Enticing Alive
Variable PI-99 PI-6 PI-18 PI-99 PI-18 PI-99 PI-18 PI-99 PI-18
Depression .54*.51*.49*.51*.44*.42*.38*.35*.34*
Life Satisfaction .51*.46*.49*.45*.40*.44*.38*.38*.38*
Flourishing .57*.53*.56*.47*.41*.52*.49*.44*.44*
Positive Emotion .55*.54*.55*.47*.43*.49*.46*.41*.43*
Engagement .44*.39*.44*.33*.28*.46*.45*.27*.29*
Relationships .45*.44*.44*.38*.33*.39*.39*.33*.34*
Meaning .55*.50*.53*.44*.38*.50*.45*.49*.47*
Accomplishment .46*.43*.45*.38*.33*.41*.38*.37*.36*
Negative Emotion .48*.47*.46*.47*.43*.38*.39*.19*.24*
Loneliness .34*.31*.32*.31*.29*.29*.29*.15*.17*
Health .36*.36*.37*.34*.33*.29*.28*.22*.26*
Female .03 .01 .08*.03 .00 .09*.10*.10*.11*
Age .25*.22*.30*.28*.34*.19*.26*.08*.07*
Education .19*.17*.26*.19*.29*.15*.24*.09*.09*
Note.nfor all correlations ranged from 2,063 to 5,793 (Table S16). All comparisons involve samples overlapping <50%, indicating robustness. Scale
administration was not concurrent, but on average weeks apart, which likely dampened Pearsonsr, but unlikely matters for comparability purposes since all
samples were similarly impacted.
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Final Versions of the PI-6 and PI-18
Instructions (please bold as noted)
Below are very general statements about the worldnot the
world we wish we lived in, but the actual world as it is now. Please
share your sense of agreement or disagreement. When in doubt, go
with what initially feels true of the real world. There are no wrong
answers. Theres no need to overthink.
Response Options (response score should not be visible to
Strongly Agree (5), Agree (4), Slightly Agree (3), Slightly Dis-
agree (2), Disagree (1), Strongly Disagree (0)
Items in the Order Given in Study 3 and 4 (*indicates r-scored)
Most things in the world are good.
In life, theres way more beauty than ugliness.
Most things have a habit of getting worse.*
On the whole, the world is an uncomfortable and unpleas-
ant place.*
Good things in the world outweigh the bad things.
Please mark this statement slightly disagree.(attention check
On the whole, the world is a bad place.*
Instructions and Response Options
Same as above
Items in the Order Given in Study 2 and 4 (*=r-scored, G =
Good, S =Safe, E =Enticing, A =Alive)
In life, theres way more beauty than ugliness.
It often feels like events are happening in order to help me in
some way.
I tend to see the world as pretty safe.
What happens in the world is meant to happen.
A only
While some things are worth checking out or exploring further,
most things probably arent worth the effort.*
Most things in life are kind of boring.*
The world is an abundant place with tons and tons to offer.
No matter where we are or what the topic might be, the world is
The world is a somewhat dull place where plenty of things are not
that interesting.*
On the whole, the world is a dangerous place.*
Instead of being cooperative, the world is a cut-throat and
competitive place.*
Events seem to lack any cosmic or bigger purpose.*
A only
Most things have a habit of getting worse.*
The universe needs me for something important.
Most things in the world are good.
Please mark this statement slightly disagree.(attention check
Everything happens for a reason and on purpose.
A only
Most things and situations are harmless and totally safe.
No matter where we are, incredible beauty is always around us.
Detailed scale administration instructions are available here:
Received February 9, 2021
Revision received June 7, 2021
Accepted June 10, 2021
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
... The PI-6 and PI-18, however, were created with additional practical research purposes in mind, including pen and pencil administration. Thus, Clifton and Yaden (2021) validated the PI-18 and PI-6 in the fixed order below. A validated fixed order for the PI-99 is also available at (under "Questionnaires" tab, then "Primals Inventory"). ...
... The 6 items in the PI-6 measuring Good (vs. bad) world belief are provided below in the order validated by Clifton and Yaden (2021). Suggested item labels-the ones I use in my own codeinclude the first letter of the associated primal, the first letter of its opposite, a number, and an "x" indicating if it will need to be reverse scored. ...
... The 18 items in the PI-18 are provided below in the order validated by Clifton and Yaden (2021). ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this document is to equip researchers of any methodological background to confidently measure primals for research purposes using any of the three versions of the Primals Inventory: the 6-item Primals Inventory (PI-6) that measures overall Good world belief, the PI-18 that measures Good, Safe, Enticing, and Alive; and the PI-99 that measures all 26 primals.
... Psychometricians can improve upon the PI-99 in several ways. Some I am currently pursuing include validating shorter measures of Good, Safe, Enticing, and Alive (project completed prior to publication of this edited handbook; see Clifton & Yaden, 2021) and collecting large samples to power a confirmatory factor analysis of the PI-99's complex measurement model. Others are mentioned below. ...
... If length is a concern, I advise measuring Safe, Enticing, Alive, and Good, using either (a) the 18-or the 6-item short-form versions of the Primals Inventory (Clifton & Yaden, 2021) or (b) selecting individual PI-99 subscales for independent use. We created tertiary subscales with independent use in mind. ...
Full-text available
Researchers have begun to explore a category of beliefs called primals which concern the basic character of the world as a whole. After discussing primals' general significance, this chapter recommends the Primals Inventory (PI-99) to those seeking to measure them. The PI-99 was created by the first effort to empirically map all major primals individuals hold. Item generation efforts included, for example, the analysis of 80,677 tweets, the 840 most-frequently used adjectives in modern English, and 385 of the most influential texts in world history. Factor analysis identified 26 latent dimensions, with most variance explained by three main primals-informally called the Big Three-the beliefs that the world is Safe (vs. dangerous), Enticing (vs. dull), and Alive (vs. mechanistic). In validation studies, PI-99 subscales were internally reliable (mean α = .86); stable across time (e.g., mean 19-month test-retest correlation for the Big Three was r (398) = .77); highly correlated with many behavioral patterns and wellbeing outcomes theoretically influenced by primals; and performed better than Big Five personality traits when predicting important variables like interpersonal trust and life satisfaction. This chapter will show how the PI-99 builds on a history of measuring similar beliefs, suggest ways to improve the PI-99, and make recommendations for those seeking to use the PI-99 in their research.
... Additionally, Clifton et al. (2021) found a significant negative correlation between adults' good world beliefs and internalizing problems such as negative emotions and depression. In light of this, the present study proposes the hypothesis that there is a negative correlation between middle school students' good world beliefs and internalizing problems (H1). ...
... Good world beliefs were measured using the Safe and Enticing dimensions of the Primals Inventory (Clifton & Yaden, 2021). The scale consisted of 13 items (e.g. ...
Full-text available
Good world beliefs play a potentially important role in the psychological development of individuals. To examine the relationship and internal mechanisms between good world beliefs and internalizing problems among middle school students, this study used the Primals Inventory, the Strengths and Problems Questionnaire, and the Self-Esteem Questionnaire to survey 451 middle school students. Results indicated that (a) middle school students’ good world beliefs significantly and negatively predicted internalizing problems(β=-0.77,p<0.001), and (b) self-esteem mediated the relationship between middle school students’ good world beliefs and internalizing problems(ab=-0.13,95%CI=[-0.17,-0.10]). This study is the first to examine the relationship and mediation mechanism between middle school students’ good world beliefs and internalizing problems, and to provide new ideas for intervening with middle school students’ internalizing problems.
... Primal World Beliefs: Definitions and Structure (Clifton & Yaden, 2021, p. 1268 ...
... A research study was developed under the guidance of Jeremy Clifton as a first attempt to measure student beliefs about school and students' perceptions of their parent's beliefs about school to see how they relate to student engagement. A questionnaire was created based on a subset of the primal world beliefs scale (Clifton & Yaden, 2021): Good, Safe, Just, Enticing, Interesting, Abundant, Worth Exploring, Meaningful. This survey is currently being distributed at a public post-secondary institution, located in Western Canada, that offers a range of programs from diplomas to master's degrees, with subjects ranging from the applied and natural sciences to business, computing, and trades. ...
Decades of research have demonstrated that beliefs matter, driving people’s emotional responses and, in turn, their behaviors. The recent work of Clifton and colleagues (2019) has significantly advanced the understanding of world beliefs through the development of the primal world belief’s (primals) scale. Primals are highly correlated with personality and well-being variables. Evidence suggests they serve as a schematic lens influencing how people view their experiences of the world. Building on this research, this capstone examines the hidden biases influencing judgment when it comes to the messages parents share with their children about school. Taking a metacognitive approach, the potential for a parent’s beliefs about school to influence their children’s beliefs and, in turn, their children’s mastery are examined, and are considered in the context of mattering. It is possible that parent beliefs could create positive and negative spirals, influencing both student and community outcomes. For this reason, the primals scale was modified to measure (1) student beliefs about school (2) student perceptions of their parent’s beliefs about school and (3) student engagement. Data will be gathered and analyzed over this next year. A positive psychology intervention (PPI) was also created using the modified primals scale to gain a better understanding of the possible underlying mechanisms associated with beliefs and to potentially identify elements of causation. It was also developed to guide parents—alongside their children—to regularly savor the Good in schools. Intended to alter hidden biases and framing beliefs, it is expected to help parents and their children develop a broader base of resources and strategies for support. The intervention is targeted to improve beliefs about school, increase PERMA, and increase mattering, agency, and hope. This analysis suggests there may be opportunities for expanding the role of positive psychology in schools.
... Sample 1 and the comparison group completed the PI-99 (99 items; Clifton et al., 2019). Sample 2 received a shorter version, PI-18 (18 items; Clifton & Yaden, 2021). Both the PI-99 and the PI-18 consist of statements about the world (e.g., "No matter where we are, incredible beauty is all around us.", or "On the whole, the world is a dangerous place."). ...
Full-text available
Introduction: People hold general beliefs about the world called primals (e.g., the world is Safe, Intentional), which are strongly linked to individual differences in personality, behavior, and mental health. How such beliefs form or change across the lifespan is largely unknown, although theory suggests that beliefs become more negative after disruptive events. The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to test whether dramatic world changes and personal adversity affect beliefs. Method: In a longitudinal, quasi-experimental, pre-registered design, 529 US participants (51% female, 76% White) provided ratings of primals before and several months after pandemic onset, and information about personal adversity (e.g., losing family, financial hardship). Data were compared to 398 participants without experience of the pandemic. Results: The average person in our sample showed no change in 23 of the 26 primals, including Safe, in response to the early pandemic, and only saw the world as slightly less Alive, Interactive, and Acceptable. Higher adversity, however, was associated with slight declines in some beliefs. One limitation is that participants were exclusively American. Conclusion: Primals were remarkably stable during the initial shock wrought by a once-in-a-century pandemic, supporting a view of primals as stable lenses through which people interpret the world.
... Participants' beliefs about the world were measured using the brief 18-item Primals Inventory (PI-18; Clifton & Yaden, 2021) that uses items from the PI-99 (Clifton et al., 2019) to measure the four highest order primals-Good (versus bad), Safe (versus dangerous), Enticing (versus dull), and Alive (versus mechanistic)-and subscales of the PI-99 that measure the beliefs that the world is Funny (versus not funny), Improvable (versus too hard to improve), Just (versus unjust), and Regenerative (versus degenerative). Items from both inventories ask respondents to indicate the degree to which they agree with general statements about the world such as "Most things and situations are harmless and totally safe." ...
Background. Posttraumatic growth (PTG)—positive changes that people may experience in the aftermath of highly distressing experiences—has been observed in survivors of a variety of events but has not been previously studied among people who have caused accidental death or injury (PCADIs). In addition, questions remain about the role, in PTG, of changes in the assumptive world and the relationships between PTG and distress, personality, and social support. Methods. Participants (N = 528), included PCADIs (n = 44) and a non-trauma comparison group (n = 484), who completed the Primals Inventory and measures of personality, anxiety, and depression. PCADIs (n = 43) also completed measures of PTG, PTG behavioral changes, social support and life satisfaction. Results. Modest levels of PTG commensurate with survivors of other relevant forms of distress were observed. Results demonstrated significant differences between primal world beliefs Good, Safe, Enticing, Just, Regenerative, Funny, and Improvable in PCADIs and non-trauma survivors as well as significant positive relationships between PTG and the primals Good, Safe, Alive, Just, Regenerative, Funny, and Improvable and between PTG and reported behavior changes related to PTG, but no significant relationships were found between PTG and distress, PTG and social support, or PTG and personality traits Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, or Agreeableness (though a significant negative relationship was observed between PTG and Neuroticism). Conclusions. PCADIs may experience PTG that both influences and is influenced by primal world beliefs, but the hypothesized relationships between PTG and distress, personality, and social support were not observed. Additional studies with larger PCADI populations may find these relationships exist at a statistically significant level. And future research should aim to develop interventions addressing the distress and growth potential of this population.
... In particular, a good prediction should already be possible by measuring only the primary primal good, the secondary primals safe, enticing, alive, and fluid, and the tertiary primals beautiful, funny, intentional, interesting, needs me, pleasurable, and worth exploring. If measuring strengths-related primals is the only objective, we hence recommend using Clifton and Yaden's (2021) brief measure of primary and secondary primalsthe PI-18-and including additional items for measuring some of the tertiary primals above as seen fit. For example, if researchers were interested in measuring humor-related primals, we would recommend administering the PI-18 together with 3-5 items for funny and pleasurable. ...
Full-text available
Primal world beliefs–primals–are a category of beliefs about the overall character of the world (e.g., the world is a safe place). Theory suggests that such beliefs drive personality development–or at least reflect personality differences, such as character strengths. We examined the relationships of primals with character strengths among 1122 German-speaking adults. The primary primal good explained the most variance in most character strengths, especially hope, spirituality, zest, gratitude, curiosity, and leadership. Including specific secondary (e.g., safe, enticing, alive) and tertiary primals (e.g., beautiful, needs me, funny) often yielded better predictions, but, with few exceptions, increments were typically smaller than that of the primary primal. We recommend including these primals in positive psychology interventions and describe three couplings of primals and character strengths that may prove especially fruitful for future research and practice.
... In addition, any set of terms located within a current theory risk being irrelevant as new theories arise, as new terms are needed, or as old theories fall away. For example, should we integrate the new area of "Primal World Beliefs" (Clifton and Yaden, 2021) into one of the older theories, or does it need a new theoretical framework with new terms? ...
Full-text available
Since 2000, research within positive psychology has exploded, as reflected in dozens of meta-analyses of different interventions and targeted processes, including strength spotting, positive affect, meaning in life, mindfulness, gratitude, hope, and passion. Frequently, researchers treat positive psychology processes of change as distinct from each other and unrelated to processes in clinical psychology. This paper presents a comprehensive framework for positive psychology processes that crosses theoretical orientation, links coherently to clinical psychology and its more dominantly “negative” processes, and supports practitioners in their efforts to personalize positive psychological interventions. We argue that a multi-dimensional and multi-level extended evolutionary approach can organize effective processes of change in psychosocial interventions, by focusing interventions on context-appropriate variation, selection, and retention of processes, arranged in terms of key biopsychosocial dimensions across psychological, biophysiological, and sociocultural levels of analysis. We review widely studied positive psychology constructs and programs and show how this evolutionary approach can readily accommodate them and provide a common language and framework for improving human and community flourishing. We conclude that Interventions should start with the person, not the protocol.
Empirical research has explored the potential of the emotion of awe to shape creativity, while theoretical work has sought to understand the link between this emotion and transformation in terms of imagining new possible worlds. This branch of study relies on the transformative potential of virtual reality (VR) to examine and invite cognitive and emotional components of transformative experiences (TEs) within the interdisciplinary model of Transformative Experience Design (TED) and the Appraisal-Tendency Framework (ATF). TED suggests using the epistemic and emotional affordances of interactive technologies, such as VR, to invite TEs. The ATF can provide insight into the nature of these affordances and their relationship. This line of research draws on empirical evidence of the awe-creativity link to broaden the discourse and consider the potential impact of this emotion on core beliefs about the world. The combination of VR with these theoretical and design-oriented approaches may enable a new generation of potentially transformative experiences that remind people that they can aspire to more and inspire them to work toward imagining and creating a new possible world.
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Scale builders strive to maximize dual priorities: validity and reliability. While the literature is full of tips for increasing one, the other, or both simultaneously, how to navigate tensions between them is less clear. Confusion shrouds the nature, prevalence, and practical implications of trade-offs between validity and reliability-formerly called paradoxes. This confusion results in most trade-offs being resolved de facto at validity's expense despite validity being de jure the higher priority. Decades-long battles against clear measurement malpractice persist because unspecified trade-offs render scale-building decisions favoring validity perennially unattractive to scale builders. In light of this confusion, the goal of this article is to make plain that the source of validity versus reliability trade-offs is systematic error that contributes to item communality. Moreover, straightforward, nontrivial trade-offs pervade the scale-building process. This article highlights common trade-offs in 6 contexts: item content, item construction, item difficulty, item scoring, item order, and item analysis. I end with 5 recommendations for managing trade-offs and out 7 "dirty tricks" often used to exploit them when nobody's looking. In short, reviewers should require scale builders to declare how validity and reliability will be prioritized and penalize those who resolve trade-offs in goal-inconsistent ways. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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Beck’s insight—that beliefs about one’s self, future, and environment shape behavior—transformed depression treatment. Yet environment beliefs remain relatively understudied. We introduce a set of environment beliefs— primal world beliefs or primals —that concern the world’s overall character (e.g., the world is interesting, the world is dangerous ). To create a measure, we systematically identified candidate primals (e.g., analyzing tweets, historical texts, etc.); conducted exploratory factor analysis ( N = 930) and two confirmatory factor analyses ( N = 524; N = 529); examined sequence effects ( N = 219) and concurrent validity ( N = 122); and conducted test-retests over 2 weeks ( n = 122), 9 months ( n = 134), and 19 months (n = 398). The resulting 99-item Primals Inventory (PI-99) measures 26 primals with three overarching beliefs— Safe, Enticing , and Alive (mean α = .93)—that typically explain ∼55% of the common variance. These beliefs were normally distributed; stable (2 weeks, 9 months, and 19 month test-retest results averaged .88, .75, and .77, respectively); strongly correlated with many personality and wellbeing variables (e.g., Safe and optimism, r = .61; Enticing and depression, r = −.52; Alive and meaning, r = .54); and explained more variance in life satisfaction, transcendent experience, trust, and gratitude than the BIG 5 (3%, 3%, 6%, and 12% more variance, respectively). In sum, the PI-99 showed strong psychometric characteristics, primals plausibly shape many personality and wellbeing variables, and a broad research effort examining these relationships is warranted.
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In the book Flourish (2011), Seligman defined wellbeing in terms of five pillars: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment, or PERMA. We developed the PERMA-Profiler as a brief measure of PERMA. We first compiled hundreds of theoretically relevant items. Three studies ( N = 7,188) reduced, tested, and refined items, resulting in a final set of 15 questions (three items per PERMA domain). Eight additional filler items were added, which assess overall wellbeing, negative emotion, loneliness, and physical health, resulting in a final 23-item measure. A series of eight additional studies ( N = 31,966) were conducted to test the psychometrics of the measure. The PERMA-Profiler demonstrates acceptable model fit, internal and cross-time consistency, and evidence for content, convergent, and divergent validity. Scores are reported visually as a profile across domains, reflecting the multidimensional nature of flourishing. The PERMA-Profiler adds to the toolbox of wellbeing measures, allowing individuals to monitor their wellbeing across multiple psychosocial domains.
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.
Over the past 50+ years researchers have dedicated considerable effort towards studying the belief in a just world (BJW). A significant development in the field was the introduction of the bidimensional model, which indicates differential outcomes for the belief in a just world for the self (BJW-self) when contrasted with the belief in a just world for others (BJW-general). Theorizing and research on BJW-general is well-established. However, the distinction between the two spheres, and specifically the unique characteristics and correlates of BJW-self, are not yet widely acknowledged by researchers. Therefore, we present a review of the BJW-self literature, in three parts. First, we outline the fundamental tenants of justice motive theory and the chronology of BJW-self research. Second, we discuss the notable relationships that have emerged from this literature, in particular the links between BJW-self and wellbeing, coping with negative life events, prosocial behaviours, and a positive future orientation. Finally, we suggest avenues for future research and theoretical advance.
Many areas of psychological science rely heavily on theoretical constructs, such as personality traits, attitudes, and emotions, and many of these measured constructs are defined by a continuum that represents the different degrees of the attribute. However, these continua are not usually considered by psychologists during the process of scale development and validation. Unfortunately, this can lead to numerous scientific problems, such as incomplete measurement of the construct, difficulties in distinguishing between constructs, and compromised evidence for validity. The purpose of the current article is to propose an approach for carefully considering these issues in psychological measurement. This approach, which we term continuum specification, is a two-stage process in which the researcher defines and then properly operationalizes the target continuum. Defining the continuum involves specifying its polarity (i.e., the meaning of its poles, or ends) and the nature of its gradations (i.e., the quality that separates high from low scores). Operationalizing the continuum means using this definition to develop a measure that (a) sufficiently captures the entire continuum, (b) has appropriate response options, (c) uses correct procedures for assessing dimensionality, and (d) accounts for the underlying response process. These issues have significant implications for psychological measurement.
The preparation of this volume began with a conference held at Trier University, approximately thirty years after the publication of the first Belief in a Just World (BJW) manuscript. The location of the conference was especially appropriate given the continued interest that the Trier faculty and students had for BJW research and theory. As several chapters in this volume document, their research together with the other contributors to this volume have added to the current sophistication and status of the BJW construct. In the 1960s and 1970s Melvin Lerner, together with his students and colleagues, developed his justice motive theory. The theory of Belief in a Just World (BJW) was part of that effort. BJW theory, meanwhile in its thirties, has become very influential in social and behavioral sciences. As with every widely applied concept and theory there is a natural develop­ mental history that involves transformations, differentiation of facets, and efforts to identify further theoretical relationships. And, of course, that growth process will not end unless the theory ceases to develop. In this volume this growth is reconstructed along Furnham's stage model for the development of scientific concepts. The main part of the book is devoted to current trends in theory and research.