A Longitudinal Analysis of Positive
Psychological Constructs and Emotions
on Stress, Anxiety, and Well-Being
Journal of Leadership &
© Baker College 2011
Reprints and permission: http://www.
James B. Avey1, Tara S. Wernsing2, and Ketan H. Mhatre3
Two studies were conducted including one involving a longitudinal research design to understand better the influential role of the positive psychological capacities of hope, efficacy, optimism, resilience, as well as positive emotions on individual stress, anxiety, and well-being. Study 1 (N = 1,316) was conducted to validate a hypothesized relationship between the positive capacities and well-being. Next, in Study 2 (N = 172), data were collected from participants at 12 points in time over 4 months and random coefficient modeling was used to test hypotheses between variables in a cognitive mediational theoretical framework. Results suggest positive psychological capacities can be a source of positive emotions. In addition, positive emotions and stress mediate the relationship between positive psychological capacities and well-being. A discussion of implications and future research conclude the article.
positive organizational behavior, psychological capital, well-being
Positive psychology is clearly making a presence not only
in clinical and applied psychology but also in related fields such as human resource management and organizational
behavior under the research umbrellas of positive organizational behavior (POB; Luthans, 2002) and the related positive organizational scholarship (Cameron, Dutton, &
Quinn, 2003). Leveraging the focus of positive psychology
that seeks to understand what is “right” with people rather than a deficit approach to solving problems (see Seligman
& Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), POB (Luthans, 2002) has
emerged as a framework to examine positivity in general
(e.g., Fineman, 2006; Luthans & Youssef, 2007) and the influence of hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resilience in particular (Avey, Wernsing, & Luthans, 2008; Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007; Stajkovic, 2006). The research stream
of POB has been defined as “the study and application of
positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement” (Luthans, 2002,
p. 59; also see Luthans & Youssef, 2007; Nelson & Cooper,
2007; Turner, Barling, & Zaharatos, 2002; Wright, 2003).
Although research in this domain has been profitable for
preliminary understanding of the application of positive
psychology, its progress has been limited by cross-sectional research designs stifling the ability to ascertain the effect of time on the relations between variables as well as construct
malleability. Furthermore, there remains a significant gap in the literature in terms of comprehensive theory integrating
advances in POB and positive emotions preventing progress
in the synthesis of these research domains. The current study was designed to address these gaps.
Researchers have empirically examined the role of four
specific psychological capacities (hope, resilience, optimism, and efficacy) and their aggregate in the form of a multidimensional construct termed psychological capital (e.g., Avey, Luthans, & Jensen, 2010; Avey, Luthans, & Youssef, 2010;
Luthans, Avolio, et al., 2007; Wright, 2003) on performance
in the workplace. This study seeks to extend understanding
of the process by which psychological capital affects constructs indirectly related to human performance such as stress, anxiety, and well-being. Furthermore, given that previous
empirical work in this area has been based in cross-sectional designs (e.g., Avey, Patera, & West, 2006; Luthans, Avolio,
Central Washington University, Ellensburg,...
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