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

The second report from the Nordic project Positive factors at work

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

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.




There are several ways to conceptualize and measure work engagement. For example, it has been defined in terms of (1) direct opposite of burnout (Maslach & Leiter, 1997), (2) individual’s involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work (Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002), and (3) being responsible for and committed to one’s performance (Britt & Bliese, 2003). In addition, some of the earlier definitions of engagement did not differentiate the concept from job involvement or organizational commitment. Here, I focus on what perhaps is the most prominent conceptualization of engagement. Schaufeli and Bakker and their colleagues (Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Roma, & Bakker, 2002) define work engagement as a positive, fulfilling, cognitive, and affective state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. Vigor refers to high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and persistence in the face of difficulties. Dedication refers to a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. The third dimension of engagement is absorption, which is characterized by being fully concentrated and happily engrossed in one’s work, whereby time passes quickly.


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