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The Relationship of Psychological Well-Being to Distress and PersonalityRuini C.a · Ottolini F.a · Rafanelli C.a · Tossani E.a · Ryff C.D.b · Fava G.A.a
aAffective Disorders Program and Laboratory of Experimental Psychotherapy, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; bDepartment of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., USA
Background: The concept of psychological well-being has been neglected for a long time in scientific literature. Over the last decades, however, many psychometric instruments have been developed to measure it. The aim of the present study was to analyze the concept of psychological well-being and its relationship to distress and personality traits. It is clinically and empirically important to establish where the measures of well-being are located in relation to symptomatology indices and personality traits. Methods: A sample of 450 subjects in the general population completed three self-rating scales for the assessment of symptomatology (Kellner’s Symptom Questionnaire), psychological well-being (Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scales, PWB), and personality traits (Cloninger’s Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire). The assessment was repeated after 1 month. Pearson’s coefficient was used to analyze PWB test-retest reliability and correlations between well-being, distress and personality indicators. Exploratory factor analysis was performed for both assessments. Results: Test-retest Pearson’s coefficients were satisfactory for all six PWB scales. Exploratory factor analyses showed a 4- or 5-factor structure, where well-being, distress and personality remained separated. PWB scales were negatively and significantly correlated with all symptom scales, but only with one personality dimension, TPQ Harm Avoidance. Mean-level differences by gender showed that in general women significantly presented with lower levels of well-being (except in Positive Relations) and higher levels of distress and personality disturbances. Conclusions: The results suggest that the relationship of well-being to distress and personality is complex. Psychological well-being could not be equated with the absence of symptomatology or with personality traits. PWB scales measure an attitude toward optimal functioning that is crucial for a comprehensive consideration of individuals in clinical settings.
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