Associations between World
Assumptions and Well-being in
Brazilian adolescents
Jorge Castellá Sarriera
Eveline Favero
Ângela Carina Paradiso
Tiago Zanatta Calza
Livia Bedin
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS, Brazil)
Grupo de Pesquisa em Psicologia Comunitária (GPPC)
Introduction
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The research presented here is part of a research project: “Quality of Life
and Well-Being in Adolescence”, which was funded by the Brazil
Government´s, Ministry of Science and Tecnology, Conselho Nacional de
Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).
The map below shows the cities which took part of the study in Brazil
Introduction
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The world assumptions concept derives from the
Assumptive World Theory
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A conceptual system developed during lifetime that provides
us with expectations about the world and about ourselves
This system is represented by general assumptions that
drive our thoughts, reflect and guide our interactions
Janoff-Bulman (1992)
Introduction
Personal Well-Being

Conceptualized as feeling good or not, along the life cycle
overall, not in occasional moments of life

Can be understood as a reciprocal relationship between
internal aspects (psychological) and its external interactions
with other people and the context (psychosocial)
Casas (2010); Cummins, Eckersley, Pallant, Van Vugt & Misajon (2003)
Introduction

Most research on world assumptions has been conducted with
adults who have experienced traumatic events
Arnoso et al., (2010, in press); Elklit et al., (2007); Jeavons & Godber (2005);
Harris & Valentiner (2002); Magwaza (1999); Mikkelsen & Einarsen (2002)

In a smaller proportion studies were conducted with
adolescents, being even less common studies that assess
relations between world assumptions and well-being
Bègue & Muller (2006); Calhoun & Cann (2011);
Feist, Bodner, Jacobs, Miles & Tan (1995)
Introduction
Aim of this study:

To assess the relations between world assumptions
and personal well-being of Brazilian adolescents
Method
Participants
1.589 adolescents from five cities in the state of Rio
Grande do Sul (the state capital city and four other
smaller cities of similar size)
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Ages ranged between 12 and 16 years old, with a mean
of 14.13 (SD = 1.26)

Method
Instruments
World Assumptions Scale (WAS)
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Originally consisting of 32 items measured with a 5-point Likerttype scale (from 1 = “strongly disagree” to 5 = “strongly agree”)
Janoff-Bulman (1992)
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In this study it was used a reduced 16-items version of the WAS
Páez, Arroyo and Fernández (1995)
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The WAS was measured by an 11-point Lickert-type scale labeled
only at the extremes (from 0 = never to 10 = always). The increase
in points on the scale is based on the idea that the measurement of
aspects related to well-being can be better assessed by scales with
more choice points
Cummins (2003)
Method
Instruments
World Assumptions Scale (WAS), adapted by Páez et al.
(1995), consists of six factors:
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Benevolence of world and people: “If you look closely, you
will see that the world is full of goodness.”
Self-Worth: “I am very satisfied with the kind of person I am.”
Justice: “Generally people deserve what they get in this world.”
Luck: “I am luckier than most people.”
Random: “Bad events are distributed to people at random.”
Ilusion of control: “I usually behave in ways that are likely to
maximise good results for me.”
Method
Instruments
Personal Well-being Index (PWI)
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Assessment of people’s satisfaction with general aspects of life
The PWI consists of seven items: satisfaction with health, living
standards, what one has achieved in life, security, the groups of
people one is part of, security about the future and the
relationships one has with others
Cummins et al. (2003)
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In this study, the PWI’s Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.78
Results
Table 1. Exploratory Factors Analysis with Varimax Rotation of World
Assumptions Scale (WAS), Alpha Coefficients and Variance Explained in this
Study
Factor
Alpha
Benevolence of world and people (items
03, 12, 15)
0.68
Self-Worth (items 10, 14)
0.81
Justice (04, 06, 07)
Luck (05, 16)
0.47
Randomness (02, 08)
0.45
Ilusion of control (01, 09, 11, 13)
0.47
Variance Explained
0.60
60.8%
Results
Table 2. WAS Factors Associated with Adolescents’ Personal Well-being
Personal Well-being
Variable
B
Std Error
Constant
46.658
1.968
Self-Worth
1.592
0.140
Luck
0.893
Illusion of
Control
Benevolence of
World and
People
Justice
Randomness
R²aj.= 0,25
Beta
t
Sig
95% C.I. for B
23.714
0.000
[42.799, 50.518]
0.28
11.393
0.000
[1.318, 1.867]
0.133
0.17
6.700
0.000
[0.631, 1.154]
1.082
0.199
0.14
5.426
0.000
[0.691, 1.473]
0.773
0.168
0.12
4.612
0.000
[0.444, 1.101]
0.809
0.199
0.10
4.072
0.000
[0.419, 1.199
0.187
0.132
0.03
1.419
0.156
[-0.072, 0.446]
Discussion
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The results confirm the hypothesis that world assumptions are
associated with well-being (Feist et al., 1995)
According to the results, Self-Worth is a contributor to the
well-being of adolescents. This result underscores the results
of other studies as Smedema, Catalano, Ebener (2010) where
feelings of positive self-worth were found to be positively
associated with subjective well-being
This idea reinforces the importance of a positive self-concept
that can lead adolescents to engage in appropriate behaviors,
and maximize successful outcomes (Janoff-Bulman, 1992)
thus contributing to the positive feelings of well-being
Discussion
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Luck is linked to Self-Worth. We tend to measure ourselves as
having more luck than most people within our particular world
(Calhoun & Cann, 1994; Janoff-Bulman,1992)
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Janoff-Bulman (1992) also found in college students that they
underestimate the likelihood of negative events happen and
overestimate the positive events - what Weinstein and
Lachendro (1982) called "unrealistic optimism"
Discussion
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Related to Illusion of Control, Janoff-Bulman (1992) argues
that the illusion of self-control is adaptive and not only
positive emotions derive from it, but it also can improve the
motivation to explore the world and engage in new behaviors,
which is positive for adolescents
According to Jeavons and Godber (2005), to believe in
Benevolence of the world protects people from stress and
anxiety, which could indirectly contribute to the well-being
promotion.
Discussion
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Related to Justice we tend to do, theoretically, a selective
assessment of events which leads us to believe that certain
events "make sense" (Janoff-Bulman, 1992) and thus interpret
our world as meaningful
According to Lerner´s Just World Theory, people have a need
to believe in a just world because we feel deeply threatned by
the possibility that negative events, if random, could happen to
us (Lerner, 1980)
Contributions
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This study emphasizes the importance of world assumptions as a
predictor of Well-Being in adolescents
These results reinforce the importance of psychosocial
interventions that aim to strength the self-control and
assertiveness
This study contributes to test the use of WAS with adolescents,
since the scale was designed for use with adult populations
References
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Arnoso, M., Bilbao, M A., Páez, D., Iraurgi, I., Kanyangara, P., Rimé, B., Sales, P. P., & MartínBeristain, C. (2010). Violencia colectiva y creencias básicas sobre el mundo, los otros y el yo. Impacto y
reconstrucción. In D. Paez, C. Martin Beristain, J. L. Gonzalez & J. De Rivera (Eds.), Superando la
violencia colectiva y construyendo cultura de paz. Madrid: Fundamentos (in press).
Bègue, L., Muller, D. (2006). Belief in a just world as moderator of hostile attributional bias. British
Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 117-126. doi: 10.1348/014466605X37314
Calhoun, L.G., & Cann, A. (1994). Differences in assumptions about a just world: ethnicity and point of
view. The Journal of Social Psychology, 134 (6), 765-770.
Casas, F. (2010). El bienestar personal: Su investigación en la infancia y la adolescencia. Encuentros en
Psicología Social, 5(1), 85-101.
Cummins, R. (2003). Normative life satisfaction: Measurement issues and homeostatic model. Social
Indicators Research, 64(2), 225–256. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27527122
Cummins, R., Eckersley, R., Pallant, J., van Vugt, J., & Misajon, R. A. (2003). Developing a national
index of subjective wellbeing: The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, Social Indicators Research, 64(2),
159–190. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27527119.
Elklit, A., Shevlin, M., Solomon, Z., & Dekel, R. (2007). Factor structure and concurrent validity of the
world assumptions scale. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20(3), 291–301. doi: 10.1002/jts.20203
Feist, Gregory J., Tood E. Bodner, Jacobs, J. F., Miles, M., & Tan, V. (1995). Integrating top-down and
botton-up structural models of Subjective Well-Being: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 68(1), 138-150.
References
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Harris, H.N., & Valentiener, D.P. (2002). World assumptions, sexual assault, depression, and fearful
attitudes toward relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(3), 286-305. doi:
10.1177/0886260502017003004
Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma. New York:
Free Press.
Jeavons, S., & Godber, T. (2005). Worl Assumptions as a measure of meaning in rural road crash
victims. Australian Journal Rural Health, 13, 226-231. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2005.00706.x
Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world. New York: Plenum.
Magwaza, A.S. (1999). Assumptive world of traumatized South Africans adults. The Journal of
Social Psychology, 139(5), 622–630. Retrieved from:
http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.ucsb.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=2448
639&site=ehost-live
Mikkelsen, E. G., & Einarsen, S. (2002). Basic assumptions and symptoms of post-traumatic stress
among victims of bullying at work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology,
11(1), 87–111. doi: 10.1080/13594320143000861
Páez, D.; Arroyo, E.; & Fernández, I. S. (1995). Catástrofes, situaciones de riesgo y factores
psicosociales. Mapfre Seguridad, 57, 43-55.
Smedema, S.M., Catalano, D., Ebener, D.J. (2010). The relationship of coping, self-worth and
subjective well-being: a structural equation model. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 53 (3), 131142. doi:10.1177/0034355209358272
Weinstein, N. D., & Lachendo, E. (1982) Egocentrism as a source of unrealistic optimism.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 195-200.
World Assumptions
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01. Misfortune is least likely to strike worthy, decent people
02. Bad events are distributed to people at random
03. The good things that happen in this world far outnumber the bad
04. Generally people deserve what they get in this world
05. I am basically a lucky person
06. People’s misfortunes result from mistakes they have made
07. People don’t really care what happens to the next person
08. Life is too full of uncertainties that are determined by chance
09. I almost always make an effort to prevent bad things from happening to me
10. I have a low opinion of myself
11. Through our actions we can prevent bad things from happening to us
12. Most people are basically good and kind
13. I usually behave in ways that are likely to maximise good results for me
14. I am very satisfied with the kind of person I am
15. If you look closely enough, you will see that the world is full of goodness
16. I am luckier than most people
Associations between World
Assumptions and Well-being in
Brazilian adolescents
Jorge Castellá Sarriera
Eveline Favero
Ângela Carina Paradiso
Tiago Zanatta Calza
Lívia Bedin
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS, Brazil)
Grupo de Pesquisa em Psicologia Comunitária (GPPC)
Website: www.ufrgs.br/gppc
E-mail: [email protected]
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Associations between World Assumptions and Well