Monitoring psychosocial prosperity for social change


Diener, E., & Diener, C. (2011). Monitoring psychosocial prosperity for social change. In R. Biswas-Diener. (Ed.), Positive psychology as social change (pp. 53-71) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.


Social and behavioral scientists have developed a consensual description of the “good life.” Their description of psychosocial prosperity might include additional elements, but there is widespread consensus that it comprises social support and safety, public trust and tolerance, positive evaluations of life, feelings of competence and mastery, and a predominance of positive over negative experience. This description of the elements of a flourishing life should be central to societal policies. Defining psychosocial prosperity, measuring it, and offering interventions to enhance it, are services that the social and behavioral sciences are uniquely qualified to provide. Creating national accounts of psychological and social prosperity will ensure that societies develop in positive directions. Although economic and other social indicators furnish needed information to policy makers, measures of psychosocial prosperity provide an overarching framework for the goals societies should pursue. We present data from the Gallup World Poll on psychosocial prosperity around the globe, and show that it can diverge from economic prosperity. A clearly articulated vision of psychological and social prosperity will give social and behavioral scientists a major role in policy discussions, provide societies with a new mandate for providing quality of life to their citizens, and give a structure into which existing economic and other indicators can be placed. Societal monitoring of psychosocial well-being will focus attention on the qualities of societies beyond economic growth that need improvement.

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