Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 21 Workshop on Measurement and Determinants of Well-Being

Workshop on Measurement and Determinants of Well-Being (February 21st 2014)
This is the first Behavioural Science Workshop in a series of six that will take place in 2014/15. These workshops are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The venue is the Court Room on the 4th Floor of the Cottrell Building at Stirling University. There will be drinks and dinner after the days talks to which all attendees are welcome. 

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in focus on human well-being in economics and psychology. Many large-scale national and international surveys have adopted diverse measures of well-being (such as positive affect, life-satisfaction and eudaimonic well-being) and tracked change within these variables over time. This workshop will draw on the strengths of psychologists familiar with the theoretical nuances and psychometric properties of various measures of well-being and economists with experience in employing sophisticated time-series and quasi-experimental approaches to the analysis of well-being data.

Speakers will present empirical findings detailing the link between diverse measures of well-being and economic and demographic factors. This workshop will highlight the potential of subjective well-being data and increase awareness of the analytic approaches used to address substantive research questions using large-scale secondary data sources. It will open up debate with industry/policy researchers regarding the extent to which diverse well-being measures can inform and assist in the evaluation of economic policies.


09.30-10.00: Professor Alex Wood (Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School):
Title: "From Aristotle to Big Datasets: Conceptualising and Measuring Well-Being"

10.00-10.30: Eimear Crowe: (Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School):
Title: "Measurement of Well-being in Major Depression"

Abstract: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide and a key contributor to the global burden of disease (WHO, 2012). It affects well-being at the moment-to-moment, day-to-day level, and in ways in which healthy individuals may not experience (eg. negative self-cognitions, emotion instability, extreme fatigue and suicidality). Therefore, dynamic, MDD-specific measures are needed. In order to get an accurate account of well-being in MDD, we need multidimensional measures that are sensitive to the following: (1) The effect of retrospective recall biases and negative cognitive distortions on self-report measures in MDD. (2) How MDD affects well-being in terms of daily, momentary functioning and experience. (3) The specificity of symptom experience in MDD. (4) The diurnal ebb and flow of affect/symptoms in MDD and how these temporal dynamics themselves affect well-being. This talk will discuss existing methods of well-being measurement in MDD and the limitations of these. It will demonstrate the usefulness of state-level, momentary measures such as the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) in elucidating the dynamic nature of the disorder. Finally, the results of a new ESM study which has measured diurnal patterns of affect and key MDD symptoms in an Irish sample of severely depressed psychiatric patients will be presented. The clinical implications of such intra / inter-day conceptualisations of MDD will be discussed; specifically, how they may advance our understanding of depression both in terms of mechanism of action and therapeutic manipulation.

10.30-11.00: COFFEE

11.00-11.30: Hilda Osafo Hounkpatin (University of Manchester):
Title: "Does it matter how we measure well-being? Implications for the income and happiness literature?" (with Christopher Boyce, Alex Wood and Graham Dunn).

Abstract: Research on the association between income and well-being has often focussed on subjective well-being measures such as life satisfaction. While life satisfaction has been theoretically and empirically associated with income, we argue that income may not relate to other domains of well-being, such as psychological needs. We explore the association between income and a broad range of subjective and psychological well-being (PWB) measures. We find that income is statistically significantly associated with self-reports of life satisfaction and environmental mastery, but not associated with PWB measures such as personal growth and purpose in life, suggesting that increases in income may not improve overall well-being. These findings highlight the importance of distinguishing between the different well-being domains when examining predictors of well-being and further suggest the need for alternative quality of life indicators besides income. We provide evidence for the use of personality measures as more fitting indicators of well-being as changes in personality measures are associated with changes in a broad range of well-being measures, and more strongly related to well-being than income and demographic factors together. Altogether this research suggests that income is not associated with overall well-being and other indicators such as personality measures may serve as more adequate markers of national progress.

11.30-12.00: Christine O'Farrelly (University College Dublin):
Title: "Investigating the impact of a home visiting programme on self-reported and psychophysiological indices of parental stress" (with Michael Daly, Liam Delaney, Orla Doyle, Nick Fitzpatrick and Judy Lovett).

Abstract: Prolonged exposure to stress and poor well-being can have detrimental effects on health, labour market and social outcomes. Thus identifying effective interventions which can mitigate these negative consequences is a key public health and policy concern. This study examines the impact of an Irish early childhood programme on parental stress and well-being utilising multiple measurement techniques including a self-report standardised measure of parenting stress, an adapted day reconstruction method which charts emotional responses to activities, self-reported life satisfaction and mood, and wrist-mounted ambulatory measurements of electrodermal activity. Utilising multiple measures allows us to elicit treatment effects on positive and negatives aspects of well-being in order to yield a more comprehensive understanding of which dimensions of well-being may be amenable to change through social intervention.

Preparing for Life (PFL) is a five-year home-based intervention which provides disadvantaged families with education and support on child development and parenting through regular mentoring sessions from pregnancy until the child starts school.  The aim of the programme is to improve child outcomes through working with parents directly to improve their personal, parental, and material wellbeing. Research on the impact of similar programmes on parental well-being is inconclusive. However, much of this literature is restricted to self-report measures. This study includes 102 mothers, who were previously randomised to the treatment or control group. Data were collected in a field setting over a 6-month period on the four indicators of parental wellbeing. The results suggest that PFL is having some effect on mothers’ wellbeing, specifically in terms of their positive affect, yet there were no differences between the treatment and control group regarding the overall scores for negative affect, life satisfaction, or parenting stress. Treatment effects were observed for positive affect, mood, and enthusiasm. Analysis of mothers’ electrodermal activity, a physiological marker of emotional arousal, is ongoing. The addition of this data may help to provide further insight on the effectiveness of PFL on maternal wellbeing. The findings of this study could hold important practical applications for those interested in promoting wellbeing.

12.00-12:30: Dr. Michael Daly (Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School)
Title: "Nation-level and individual-level associations between money and sense of meaning in life" (with Liam Delaney)

Abstract: A large body of research suggests that income contributes positively to subjective well-being and that the impact of money on well-being may be greatest amongst the poor. However, recent research has shown that high levels of meaning and purpose exist together in poor countries (Oishi & Diener, in press) leading to the suggestion that improving the economic circumstances of those living in poverty may not improve their sense of meaning and purpose. Drawing on examples of Simpson's paradox we suggest that nation-level correlations between a country's wealth and the average sense of meaning of its residents could be spurious and that the relationship between money and meaning may be reversed when examined at the individual and within-individual level.

To test this idea, we utilize data from the World Values Survey (WVS) (N = 210,089) and the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) longitudinal study (N = 1,657). We firstly replicate the negative correlation between nation-level meaning/purpose and GDP per capita first identified by Oishi & Diener (in press) in the Gallup World Poll. Next, we show that the association between household income and meaning and purpose in life is positive at the individual level in WVS. Our test of the robustness of this association found that income at baseline robustly predicted increases in purpose in life over a ten year period in the MIDUS study. These findings were supported by twin-fixed effects analyses. In combination, our findings suggest that the negative nation-level link between country wealth and meaning may be a result of omitted third variables. At the individual-level earning more money appears to predict greater purpose in life and initial evidence suggests this is unlikely to be due to reverse causation, stable genetic factors or the early life childhood family environment. We propose that to resolve this question the association between nation-level within-country changes in wealth and meaning over time must be examined. This would provide a robust test of the money-meaning link that adjusts for stable unobserved differences between countries.

12:30-13:30 LUNCH

13:30-14:15: Dr. Martin Binder (University of Kassel and University of Sussex)
Title: "Capabilities and Subjective Well-Being".

AbstractAs a result of the disenchantment with traditional income-based measures of welfare, alternative welfare measures have gained increasing attention in recent years. Two of the most prominent measures of well-being come from subjective well-being research and the (objective) capability approach. Despite their promising features, both approaches have a number of weaknesses when considered on their own. This paper sets out to examine to what extent a fusion between both approaches can overcome the weaknesses of both individual approaches. It uses features of the capability framework to enrich what is basically a subjective well-being perspective. Key drawbacks of normative subjective well- being views can be overcome by focussing welfare assessments on ‘‘Subjective Well-being Capabilities’’, i.e. focussing on the substantive opportunities of individuals to pursue and achieve happiness.

14:15-15:00: Dr. Samantha Dockray (University College Cork)
Title: "Psychobiological correlates of wellbeing; Mix-ups of measurement and meaning"

Abstract: Positive psychological wellbeing has been associated with favourable health outcomes, and it is likely that several biological processes mediate the effects of positive mood on physical health.  These biological processes include the activation of the neuroendocrine and autonomic systems, and these systems are often used as direct associates of psychological states, and the system reactivity and recovery are usually presented as explanatory pathways.  Although measures of psychological wellbeing continue to be delineated, the measures of physiological activation used to show differences in positive wellbeing are based on models of stress, distress and psychopathology.  This paper will examine individual differences and intra-individual change in positive wellbeing, and the concomitant and/or consequent physiological activation of the cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems.  Findings are drawn from several prospective and intervention studies of psychophysiological wellbeing. The summary findings indicate the measurement of the dynamic between physical and psychological wellbeing must consider type as well as intensity of emotion, and examine the usefulness of physiological measures in relation models of positive wellbeing and health outcomes. The results are discussed with reference to models of health, and the potential for health interventions using a positive psychology framework.

15:00-15:20: COFFEE

15:20-16:05: Professor Suzanne Skevington (University of Manchester)
Title: "What is Quality of Life and Wellbeing? Can we really measure it?"

Abstract: In recent years there has been debate about whether we can measure quality of life and wellbeing. Professionals and decision-makers in health and social care need good quality outcome measures that can precisely  assess whether treatments and interventions significantly improving life, especially for those with limiting long term conditions. Clinical Consulting Groups now seek suitable measures that can be used to assess their population, but the seemingly interchangeable use of the terms quality of life and wellbeing serves to confuse those who must make these important choices.  In this talk we will consider some definitions of quality of life and wellbeing with other related issues, and look at how they have changed recently. Such definitions provide clues to the ways that measures are constructed and used, and by whom. Several measures including those on wellbeing,  will be outlined to illustrate these points.  Lastly,  we shall consider the features of a cross-cultural  measure - the WHOQOL - which was developed by a collaboration at the World Health Organisation, and represents the first international generic PROM.

16:05-16:35: Anne-Marie Conlong (Performance Unit, Office of The Chief Statistician & Performance, Scottish Government).
Title: "Measuring Well-Being in Scotland: Scotland Performs".

16.35 - 17.15: Panel Discussion

After the workshop there will be drinks followed by dinner: All attendees welcome. 


Anonymous said...

So sorry not to have known about this in time to attend. It lokks like just what I need. Will there be a proceedings document from this that I might get hold of?
Marianne Hvistendahl Allday
PhD research
School of Healthcare
University of Leeds
Tel: 0113 343 3038

Mark Egan said...

Hi Marianne. There will be a summary of the days talks with some PPTs on the blog next week.