UBC Theses and Dissertations
Define, measure, repeat : an application of the iterative measurement-theory link to distinct positive emotions Weidman, Aaron C.
Social and personality psychologists strive toward theory advancement—or the derivation of truthful and applicable statements about human behavior—while often neglecting the methods that support those theoretical conclusions. In Chapter 1 of this dissertation, I discuss a two-stage process outlining how researchers’ measurement decisions are inextricably linked to the theoretical conclusions drawn from individual studies. Stage 1 involves formulating an initial definition and measurement tool for a construct, and Stage 2 involves placing this construct within a nomological network of other constructs. Stage 2 is typically followed by iteration back to Stage 1, when the construct is re-formulated based on the findings from Stage 2. In Chapters 2 and 3, I use this two-stage process as a lens through which to analyze individual constructs of humility and happiness, describing research that constitutes a second iteration through Stage 1 of the measurement-theory cycle. In Chapter 2, I propose a revised definition of humility, showing that humility consists of two dimensions (appreciative and self-abasing humility), whereas prior formulations have measured only one dimension mirroring appreciative humility. In Chapter 3, I propose a revised definition of happiness in the context of discretionary spending on experiential and material purchases, demonstrating that explicitly measuring momentary happiness portrays material things in a more favorable light than has prior work which has measured afterglow happiness. In Chapter 4, I use the two-stage process as a lens through which to analyze the field of subjectively experienced distinct positive emotions, describing research that constitutes a second iteration through Stage 1 of the measurement-theory cycle and a second foray into Stage 2. Specifically, I construct bottom-up definitions and measurement tools for each positive emotion currently studied in the literature based on lay experience, and present the interrelations among these emotions. In Chapter 5, I reflect on lessons learned by comparing a wide range of literatures through the lens of the measurement-theory cycle, and I outline an agenda for the field of distinct positive emotions, which would build on the work presented in Chapter 4 and progress toward the ultimate goal of constructing a universal taxonomy of basic positive emotions.
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