Validation and test of central concepts in positive work and organizational psychology

The second report from the Nordic project Positive factors at work

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Positive psychology is about studying and understanding positive psychological phenomena - the things that work for people, organizations and societies. The insights of positive psychology have also manifested themselves within work and organizational psychology. These trends have entailed a focus on more positive work-related phenomena, as for instance flow, work engagement, meaningfulness, and well-being at work. The aim of this report is to conduct a closer inspection of central concepts in positive work and organizational psychology. Firstly, the report assesses the validity of a series of measures of positive concepts and secondly, the report analyzes relationships between positive concepts and a series of positive individual and organizational outcomes. The analyses yield interesting findings that may contribute to a new working life research front with a strong potential generating knowledge that may prove useful in enhancing a healthy work environment.




Positive psychology has been suggested as one possible way to meet the challenges facing work life in the Nordic countries. Increased demands, global competition, technological innovations, and changed expectations on the part of the workers are some of the challenges encountered by the Nordic welfare societies. Positive psychology is the study of positive experiences, personal strengths, and a meaningful life (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The ideas of positive psychology have met with a great deal of interest all over the world, not least in the Nordic countries. A recent search for “positive psychology” as a subject term resulted in 976 hits in databases including psycINFO, psycARTICLES, and Business Source Complete. For the field of work and both organizational psychology and occupational health psychology, this opens a promising field of research on issues related to employees’ experiences of motivation, engagement, learning, and meaning, rather than having a one-way focus on reducing stress and negative work characteristics. Focusing on what makes workplaces and their employees resilient and adaptable to increased demands and continual changes is a way of meeting the global challenges we have in Nordic working life. The main aim of the present project has been to develop theory and methods concerning positive factors at work adapted to Nordic working conditions. The project began in 2006 and has lasted for a three-year period. It is a joint collaboration between researchers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. One previous report has been published and serves as a methodological base for further work. The first report gave an overview of existing Nordic projects focusing on positive factors at work, both theoretically and methodologically. The report suggested a working model, which has been a focal point for further work in the project. In 2007 the reliability and validity of the various instruments for measuring positive factors were tested using the established data to form a foundation for a survey questionnaire on positive factors at work in Nordic countries. In 2008 different parts of the working model were tested based on the results from the first validation process. The results from 2007 and 2008 are presented in the present report. The joint work undertaken by the Nordic research group has resulted in very interesting results and significant networking with other research groups in Europe and the US. The research collaboration is continued through a new project named “Building Engagement and Healthy Organizations”, building on the results from the latter project.


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