Bad news indeed for Ryff's six-factor model of well-being

Kristen W. Springer*, Robert M. Hauser, Jeremy Freese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Springer and Hauser (An Assessment of the Construct Validity of Ryff's Scales of Psychological Well-Being: Method, Mode, and Measurement Effects. 2006. Social Science Research 35) tested one key aspect of the validity of Ryff's six-factor model of psychological well-being (RPWB), namely, whether there is substantial independent variation among the six factors. In several large and heterogeneous samples, under a variety of model specifications, and using various sets of RPWB items, we found very high factor correlations among the dimensions of well-being, especially personal growth, purpose in life, self-acceptance, and environmental mastery. That is, the six-factor model makes theoretical claims that do not yield large or consistent empirical distinctions when standard measures and instrumentation are used. Where Ryff and Singer's comment (Best News Yet on the Six-Factor Model of Well-Being. 2006. Social Science Research 35) refers directly to that analysis, their methodological discussion is most often irrelevant or incorrect. Their text largely ignores and fails to challenge our strong empirical findings about the factorial structure of well-being. In this response, we reinforce these findings and their implications for the (in)validity of the six-factor well-being model as implemented by Ryff. We also explain why Ryff and Singer's lengthy review of studies that show differential relationships of RPWB factors with other variables should be interpreted with far greater caution than Ryff and Singer recognize. We offer recommendations for analyzing RPWB items in surveys that have already been conducted, but we also emphasize the need for a thorough rethinking of the measurement and dimensionality of psychological well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1120-1131
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Confirmatory factor model
  • Measurement
  • Psychological well-being
  • Statistical power
  • Survey design
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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