Psychosocial approaches to wellbeing

Author: joe

Saturday, 23 June, 2012 - 22:39

Draft - a review of some psychosocial approaches to personal wellbeing including locus of control, self-efficacy, autonomy, identity mobility, locus of origin, socioeconomic status, perceptions of aetiology, relatedness and self-individuation. This draft starts with the issue of the uses of technology in people's lives and develops core concerns into the wider remit of general wellbeing.


One of the core issues around using technology to support people in times of physical and emotional distress is the well-researched and documented need for people to feel that they are in control of the technologies in question, and that they are in charge of what the right responsibilities are: this is the 'locus of control' which, when internal and correctly composed, contributes both to physical health (Kobasa et al, 1982) and to mental wellbeing (Hill & Bale, 1980). Furthermore, seeking out information characterises the development and maintenance of a well-defined sense of internal locus of control and valuation of personal health and wellbeing (Wallston & Wallston, 1976; Klein & Cook, 2010).

Assessments of the perceived locus of control can indicate an individual's sense of self-efficacy, both in terms of their relationship with technology and electronic resources, as well as in the wider psychosocial realm of life. Mastery and control over the technological resources ameliorates associated anxiety and stress (O'Driscoll & O'Driscoll, 2008), while a sense of autonomy and personal competence contributes to more general wellbeing. One component of such wellbeing is "identity mobility" - a formulation which captures the need for individuals to have both a confidence in the self which reinforces personal agency, and the literal and metaphorical room for manoeuvre that allows for responsiveness to new situations and development into new phases of life (Todres & Galvin, 2011).

Alongside the importance of the Mental Health Locus of Control (MHLC) is the Mental Health Locus of Origin (MHLO), which identifies beliefs about the aetiology of psychological problems. The locus of origin is implicated in the way that individuals are likely to attribute causal factors or invoke explanatory models to account for difficult emotional and psychological experiences. Correlations have been shown between socioeconomic status and the propensity to attribute such experiences to either "interactional" causes such as interpersonal relationships in the case of higher socioeconomic status, or "endogenous" factors such as "organic, hereditary and moral" causes in the case of lower socioeconomic status (Hill & Bale, 1980).

Attribution of aetiologies is a key dimension of the process of sense-making that is involved in therapeutic activities such as CBT, narrative therapy and others. The ability to assimilate new or unexpected experiences into an ordered framework in which explanatory factors can be appealed to is a key component in personal wellbeing (McLeod, 1997; Bruner, 1986). Relatedness is what permits individuals to constellate disparate events and processes into a coherent and unified whole. It is also relatedness that expresses the tension between identify formation through the cultivation of self-definition, autonomy and individuation on one hand, and on the other, the development of interpersonal relationships and the cultivation of associated aspects of personality such as dependency, cooperation, collaboration, affection, mutuality, reciprocity and intimacy (Blatt, 2008).

Alongside autonomy, relatedness is one of the universal basic components of personal wellbeing (Deci & Ryan, 2000). For this reason it is one of the characteristics of adolescent development that autonomy is often contested and the sense of belonging often precarious. Autonomy requires effortful control - the ability to voluntarily regulate attention and direct behaviour toward goals, and repeated unsuccessful efforts to achieve goals often leads to fearfulness. Low effortful control is correlated with externalising problems such as aggression and anti-social behaviour while fearfulness is associated with internalising problems such as depression and feelings of inadequacy (Sentse & Ormel, 2011).


Blatt, S. J., 2008. Polarities of experience: Relatedness and self-definition in personality development, psychopathology, and the therapeutic process. Washington, DC US: American Psychological Association
Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.
Hill D, Bale R. Development of the Mental Health Locus of Control and Mental Health Locus of Origin Scales. Journal Of Personality Assessment. April 1980;44(2):148
Klein B, Cook S. Preferences for e-mental health services amongst an online Australian sample. E-Journal Of Applied Psychology. March 2010;6(1):28-39
Kobasa, S. G., Maddi, S. R., & Kahn, S. 1982. Hardiness and health: A prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42: 168-177.
McLeod, J., 1997, Narrative and Psychotherapy, London: Sage
O’Driscoll M. P. and O’Driscoll, E. C., 2008. The Impact of New Technology in the Workplace on Mental Wellbeing, London: Government Office for Science
Sentse, M. & Ormel, J., 2011. Child Temperament Moderates the Impact of Parental Separation on Adolescent Mental Health: The TRAILS Study. Journal of Family Psychology, 25 (1), 97-106
Wallston, K. A., Maides, S. & Wallston, B.S. (1976). Health related information seeking as a function of health related locus of control and health value. Journal of Research in Personality, 10, 215-22.

Categories: wellbeing, locus-of-control, self-efficacy, autonomy, identity mobility, locus-of-origin, socioeconomic status, aetiology, relatedness, self-individuation,
Comments: 1


I so relate with the first lietsd. I have begun a path and am investing in it and finding it very rewarding in how I feel doing these things. And am so happy that others are seeing and receiving benefit from my .But I am still battling with feelings of repression because of the control and verbal abuse/manipulations exerted upon me from my ex-husband( we have joint custody of son, so have to deal with each other).I keep shifting my focus to those things that feed my soul, but feel I have a challenge coming up in establishing my rights to live without having to go through his ok-ing everything. The skills I am learning are helping me cope with the .I am also glad I have these affirmations to open up to remind me to look at things in a light to help me grow.

Author: Sindhy Sent: 2012-09-20 02:08:09

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