Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-8-2022


The fields of alcohol use disorder (AUD) recovery and positive psychology have both rapidly grown in recent years, are paralleled in their philosophy and goals, but have scarcely overlapped. An important first step to applying positive psychology to addiction treatment and recovery is quantifying the extent that treatment-as-usual encourages human flourishing (i.e., holistic well-being and adequate functioning). The PERMA Profiler is a measure based on the PERMA model of flourishing, captured across five positive psychology domains (i.e., Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments), and has been validated in a wide variety of samples. The psychometric properties of the PERMA Profiler among a sample of individuals in AUD recovery are unknown, and thus the present study sought to address this gap. This online, two wave panel survey study administered the PERMA Profiler and related recovery- and positive psychology-oriented measures to a sample of n=250 people in AUD recovery. We examined reliability (internal and test-retest) and validity (construct and criterion), as well as a reflexive thematic analysis (RTA) of open-ended qualitative questions (e.g., “what else has helped you experience positive emotions, specifically during alcohol recovery?”). Results showed evidence for reliability, but only partial support for validity, of the PERMA Profiler. While we expected to replicate the five-factor PERMA structure, the five-factor model did not show adequate fit with our data, and an alternative single-factor structure showed worse fit. Criterion (i.e., convergent and predictive) validity of PERMA scales with hypothesized related measures was mostly moderate-to-strong. Qualitative themes (e.g., “mutual help,” “helping others,” “mindfulness”) that were identified from the RTA perhaps aid in explaining the lack of accuracy of the PERMA Profiler, and also suggest ways that the measure could be adapted to validly capture flourishing for those in AUD recovery. Given the unexpected quantitative findings, possible future research directions are discussed, as well as recoommendations for adapting the PERMA Profiler for those in AUD recovery.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Margo Hurlocker, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Bruce Smith, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Bettina Hoeppner, Ph.D.




alcohol, recovery, positive psychology, flourishing, well-being, alcohol use disorder

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