Relationships between personal values, and depressed mood and subjective wellbeing. (2010)
The central objective of this thesis was to explore relationships between personal values, and depressed mood and subjective wellbeing, and to determine if the notion of values can be more useful in the fields of clinical and positive psychology. An initial literature review of values identified the potential importance of values in relation to mood and wellbeing, but also showed that more research was required to clearly establish such links. Two survey studies using Schwartz’s model of values (Schwartz, 1992), and one longitudinal study investigating relational aspects of values, were conducted to explore these relationships. Study 1 was a New Zealand paper-based study and investigated links between the importance of, and satisfaction with, values and depressed mood and subjective wellbeing. Study 2 was a larger international internet-based study which sought to replicate important findings from Study 1 and investigate links between people’s knowledge of their values and the extent to which they were living in alignment with values. Study 3 consisted of a sub-sample of participants from Study Two who completed a subset of Study 2 assessment measures six months later. This study explored how relational aspects of values (knowledge of values, living in alignment with values) related to changes in depressed mood and SWB over time.
Cumulatively the results from these studies re-orientate our thinking towards an increased utility for the notion of values in the areas of clinical and positive psychology. Regarding depressed mood, these studies found links between greater depressed mood and lesser importance of Self-Direction, Stimulation and Hedonism value types. The importance of values as a whole was not associated with depressed mood; however being satisfied, knowing values, and living in alignment with values were associated with less depressed mood. Regarding subjective wellbeing, these studies found links between greater subjective wellbeing and greater importance of Self-Direction, Stimulation, Hedonism, and Benevolence value types. The importance of values as a whole was not associated with subjective wellbeing; however being satisfied, knowing values, and living in alignment with values were associated with greater subjective wellbeing. A causal relationship was found between living in alignment with values and latter subjective wellbeing, but not for knowledge of values and later subjective wellbeing. In addition, no major deviations in the coherence of values’ systems between individuals with and without depressed mood, or for individuals with and without high subjective wellbeing, were found.
Strengths, implications, and limitations of the studies are noted for the fields of clinical and positive psychology, and suggestions for future research are made.