Using Q methodology to explore conceptions of well-being including hedonic, eudaimonic and lay perspectives

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Well-being is a multifactorial phenomenon that is understood by the concepts of hedonia and eudaimonia. Yet, these two central concepts can vary, fall into different categories, or have been defined vaguely. The variation makes it difficult in establishing what constitutes well-being but also what elements are important to be able to experience well-being. The research examined the concept of well-being and analysed what aspects were important to experience a sense of well-being. Three systematic reviews were conducted to gain an overview of the reliability and validity of current measures and examine the existing definitions of well-being. A qualitative interview and a qualitative single item survey were conducted to analyse lay conceptions of well-being for use in the development of the Q sample. Q methodology was then used to identify and describe shared perspectives around wellbeing and to analyse what aspects of well-being were most important. Participants ranked 54 statements developed for this study onto a quasi-normal shaped grid according to their level of agreement. Factor analysis was used to identify shared points of view. Analyses produced a three-factor solution around what aspects of well-being were prioritised, this can be broadly summarised as i) ‘Close prosocial relationships’ – well-being represented by caring, loving reciprocal relationships, and emotional support. ii) ‘Reducing anxiety and enhancing optimism’ well-being was experienced by a reduction of worry, optimism for the future and self-reliance, iii) ‘Responsibility and obligation’ – well-being was experienced via self-motivation, planning and meeting obligations and responsibilities. The findings imply that there are different emphases placed upon what is important in experiencing well-being and that well-being priorities vary even within one culture. It implies that varying importance was applied to aspects of hedonic and eudaimonia wellbeing where maximising well-being is concerned. The existence of these positions does not imply that these are the only views and future research could use Q methodology to examine what is of importance for a group's well-being, which would allow for the ability to design measures, interventions and policies that would be relevant to the group under investigation and could maximise the chances of increasing their well-being.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorGil Greengross (Supervisor), Zhimin He (Supervisor) & Nigel Holt (Supervisor)

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