Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Committee Member

Cynthia Pury

Committee Member

Fred Switzer

Committee Member

Patrick Rosopa

Committee Member

Zhuo Chen


The present study aimed to see whether a person's score across specific well-being domains would correspond to their choice in trade-off situations. Specific well-being domains were measured using the Pathways to Happiness measure (Vanelli, 2019), and vignettes were designed to represent everyday situations. Each vignette contained a binary option representing the domains measured by the Pathway to Happiness measure. Overall, the results are promising and support the notion that the relative importance a person places on specific pathways to happiness will be reflected in their choices when faced with a trade-off situation. Logistic regression results indicate the Pathways to Happiness (Vanelli, 2019) measure demonstrated some ecological validity between scores on the measure and participant’s preferred outcome on the vignettes included in the study. Although the Pathways to Happiness (Vanelli, 2019) measure demonstrated some ecological validity between Pathways scores and participants’ preferred outcome, it would still be difficult to generalize this study's results to other samples. Based on the results, the relationship between trade-off situation outcomes and how we value specific paths towards happiness is dynamic. More than two pathways could be weighed against in trade-off situations, or on the flip side, the outcome of one decision could represent more than one pathway. Additionally, the results of the two-step cluster analyses, and hierarchical cluster analysis also supported H1. The high scores on specific Pathways to Happiness (Vanelli, 2019) subscales corresponded to the outcome that represented that pathway in the vignettes. Pairwise comparisons introduced an additional layer of preferential judgments between the four pathways of interest: Contact with Nature, Relationships, Outlook: Positivity (Positive Outlook), and Autonomy. The ranks assigned to pathways by participants typically coincided with the choices they made on the vignettes. For example, those who ranked Positive Outlook the most important were choosing the outcome representing that pathway across the vignettes. A person’s ranking of the Pathways to Happiness also corresponded with average scores on the Pathway to Happiness measure (i.e., higher rank corresponds to higher average, etc.). However, some instances occurred where a pathways' ranking did not align with the participants' choice across the vignettes. Despite this misalignment between a participant’s pathways rankings and their choice on the vignette, it appears their average scores from the Pathways to Happiness (Vanelli, 2019) continued to correspond with their outcome preference across the vignettes. One possible interpretation of these results is to compare the pairwise comparisons and vignettes to the state-level measurement of the Pathways to Happiness. By contrast, the Pathways to Happiness measure could be considered a trait-level measurement approach to these happiness sources' relative importance.



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