As the positive psychology movement has began to ramp up, many self-report measures have been created to research positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, and humility. While these measurements have been beneficial in giving researchers a baseline understanding into positive emotions, they are also explicit which presents the problem of self-presentation bias. We tend to view ourselves in a positive light and therefore rate ourselves more positively on self-reports. The purpose of this study was to investigate the distribution skew of commonly used positive self-report measurements for possible negative skew. We ran frequency distributions and calculated the skew of multiple measures used in five separate studies (N=900). Five measurements had a significant negative skew indicating a large proportion of participants scored the maximum or close to the maximum score on these measures: the Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6, skew -5 to -10), Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (GRAT, skew -3 to -5), Gratitude Adjectives Scale (GAS, skew -3 to -5), Gratitude to God Test (GTG-T skew -2 to -3), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS, skew -2 to -3). These results suggest that positive bias is an important issue in positive psychology that must be considered. We suggest controlling for self-presentation bias when analyzing results from these measure or implicit measures when available.
Hutton, Brandy R. and Barham, Max, "Positive Bias in Positive Psychology" (2019). 2019 Symposium. 19.
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