Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Positive Psychological Capital: A New Approach to Social Support and Subjective Well-Being

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Positive Psychological Capital: A New Approach to Social Support and Subjective Well-Being

Article excerpt

Investigations of determinants of psychological well-being have been a major focus of not only positive psychology but also health sociology. Many researchers have examined internal, demographic, and other external correlates of subjective well-being (SWB; Dolan, Peasgood, & White, 2008). Among the external factors - that is, those factors that cannot be controlled by the individual him or herself because they are reliant on other people - social support (SS) has been shown to be a very important variable that can improve SWB (Diener, 2009), and this is regardless of demographic factors, such as health, income, educational background, and marital status, which account for only a small amount of the variance in well-being measures. To improve SWB more effectively, factors are necessary that can not only strongly predict SWB but that also allow effective intervention to be performed. Positive psychological capital (PPC, also referred to as PsyCap; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007) may be one such factor that is amenable to intervention and that is related to SWB.

Literature Review and Development of Hypotheses

Positive psychological capital is defined as "an individual's positive psychological state of development and is characterized by: (a) having confidence to take on, and put in the necessary effort to succeed at, challenging tasks (selfefficacy); (b) making a positive attribution about succeeding now and in the future (optimism); (c) persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals in order to succeed (hope); and (d) when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back up and even beyond to attain success (resiliency)" (Luthans et al., 2007, p. 3). There is a growing body of empirical evidence that PPC has a positive impact on the individual's work attitudes and behaviors (Luthans, Norman, Avolio, & Avey, 2008). This has been shown in the results of longitudinal research (Avey, Luthans, Smith, & Palmer, 2010; Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman, & Combs, 2006) and in a field study conducted by Culbertson, Fullagar, and Mills (2010).

Positive Psychological Capital and Subjective Well-Being

Although little direct evidence has been produced to indicate that there is a relationship between PPC and SWB, researchers have suggested that PPC may have a positive impact on SWB. For example, Cole, Daly, and Mak (2009) suggested that an individual's psychological capital influences the impact of unemployment on his or her well-being and PPC facilitates reemployment. In addition, Culbertson et al. (2010) reported that employee PPC showed a positive relationship with well-being and Avey et al. (2010) found a reliability impact on the employee's well-being over time. Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1: Positive psychological capital will significantly predict an individual's subjective well-being.

Positive Psychological Capital and Social Support

It has been proposed that PPC has a state-like nature and is, thus, open to development (Luthans et al., 2006). There is accumulating evidence to support the existence of a positive impact of SS on the components of PPC (i.e., self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency). For example, Foote, Piazza, Holcombe, Paul, and Daffin (1990) reported the presence of a significant relationship between SS and hope, and SS and self-esteem. In addition, in their study Holahan and Holahan (1987) found that initial self-efficacy was related to SS after a period of one year and Dougall, Hyman, Hayward, McFeeley, and Baum (2001) reported that SS had a positive influence on optimism. Luthans et al. (2008) provided more direct evidence that a supportive climate had a positive impact on PPC. Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 2: Social support will significantly predict an individual's positive psychological capital.

Social Support and Subjective Well-Being

SS can affect human health and well-being in several ways, and may correlate robustly with SWB. …

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