Individual differences in the use of behavioural regulation
: differentiating the influence of future-orientation and personality traits on the perception of well-being

  • Catherine Engelbrecht

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Within the psychological literature two main approaches can be identified as influential factors in the increase of well-being, defined in this thesis as Hedonic (SWB) vs. Eudaimonic Well-Being (PWB). One of the key qualities of the human mind is its ability to think about and act upon the future. The first approach emphasises the role of psychological strengths related to the utilisation of foresight and planning in such a way as to influence the consequences of current actions. The second approach focuses on the function of basic personality traits in the setting of goals and mental functioning. To integrate these approaches, this thesis brings together two lines of research: future-orientation and personality traits. Two longitudinal studies investigate the predictive qualities of future-orientated constructs in relation to personality traits, while also focusing on their contribution to the setting and attainment of goals and the perception of well-being.
In the first study two cognitive-motivational scales, Hope and Personal Growth Initiative (PGI), were administered to measure two hundred and sixty four participants’ future-orientation. The first aim of this study was to examine the distinctiveness of these two scales in predicting well-being. Results from factor analyses cast doubt on the uniqueness of Hope and PGI, while regression analyses demonstrate Hope to be the strongest, most significant predictor of PWB and SWB. A further aim of the study was to ascertain if future-orientation could account for additional variance in the prediction of well-being, after the influence of the Eysenck’s Personality traits have been controlled for. It was indicated that individuals’ Hope levels do account for residual variance in PWB and SWB. The last aim of the study was to determine if future-orientation could contribute to long-term goal attainment and well-being. The results indicate that participant’s Hope levels did not significantly contribute to long-term goal attainment, however it had a direct, significant effect on long-term PWB.
The second study, utilising 117 participants, replicated prior findings that demonstrate Hope, instead of PGI, to be the strongest, most significant predictor of both PWB and SWB. The study also extents prior research by utilising the Big-Five traits in the prediction of PWB and SWB. Factor analyses results indicate Hope to share an underlying factor structure with Openness and Conscientiousness, while PGI share an underlying factor structure with Agreeableness. It was further indicated that participants’ Hope, but not PGI, accounts for residual variance in the prediction of PWB, after controlling for the Big-Five traits. Conversely, Hope and PGI did not account for any residual variance in the prediction of SWB, instead almost 60% of the variance can be attributed to the Big-Five personality traits. Extending the first study, the aim of the second study was to ascertain attainment through independent verification and not participant self-assessment. The results indicate that participants who demonstrate greater levels of Openness and PGI tend to set higher quantitative goals. Although not predictive of goal attainment, participants with greater Openness showed higher performance on the goals.
Overall, the results question the distinctiveness of Hope and PGI in the prediction of well-being. It adds to our knowledge of how psychological strengths such as future-orientation can contribute variance to the prediction of well-being after basic personality traits have been controlled for. Finally the results also add to our understanding of how personality traits, as well as, Hope and PGI independently contribute to the setting of goals.
Date of AwardJul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorDerek Carson (Supervisor)


  • Future-orientation
  • Hope
  • Personal growth initiative
  • Psychological well-being
  • Subjective well-being
  • Goal setting
  • Goal attainment
  • Big-five personality traits

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