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Psychological well-being (Ryff, 1995)

Psychological well-being was initially derived from several psychological perspectives including developmental, clinical and mental health. Developmental psychology provided guidance from life-span development which offers several descriptions of wellness and follows growth over the life course. This perspective includes the work of Erikson (1959) stages of psychological development, Buhler (1935) basic life tendencies, and Neugarten’s (1973) work on personality change in adulthood and old age (Ryff, 1995). Clinical psychology offered input from Maslow’s (1968) self-actualisation and Roger’s (1961) fully functioning person. Jung (1933) formulation of individuation and Allport’s (1961) work of conception of maturity (Ryff, 1995). Finally, the mental health literature contributed with Jahoda’s work based on ideal mental health and Birren’s conception of positive functioning in later life (Ryff, 1995).

Ryff (1995) also looked at age differences between men and women due to the limitations of the previous theories to which the model is based, with the exception of Erikson’s work (1959). Ryff (1995) carried out research on young, middle aged and old-age adults to establish validity of the dimensions. Personal Growth and Purpose in Life decreased from mid-life to old-age and Positive Relations and Self-Acceptance showed no significant difference. Ryff (1995) considered sex differences and found that women of all ages reliably rated themselves as higher on Positive Relations With Others compared to men. Women also appear to score higher on Personal Growth and the remaining dimensions showed no significant difference. Culturally, an individualistic culture may have higher focus on Self-Acceptance or Autonomy, whereas in a collectivist culture Positive Relations with Others maybe more significant. This was supported by research where Americans were more likely to attribute positive qualities to themselves compared to Koreans, although sex differences were the same in either culture (Ryff, 1995). 

Psychological well-being (PWB) is less well established in the literature than mental illness. Ryff (1995) argued that this is evident within the magnitude of research into both domains, with literature on psychological problems dwarfing the discourse on positive psychological functioning. Ryff (1995) argues that a person is classed as mentally sound if they are not suffering from anxiety, depression or any other form of mental issues. The effects of sports on the dimensions of psychological well-being has previously been carried out using a study group of 187 high school students (Gui, Caglayan & Akandere, 2017). Research looked at three areas: individual, environmental and self-determination and found that after eight weeks of training the experimental group had significantly higher scores on the personal growth dimension. Ryff (1995) suggests that sport is used as a tool which effects individuals personal development and one which enables them to combat crises in their lives aa well as helping them be aware of their potential. Ryff (1995) further argued that sport training may have a direct effect on students individual development and this maybe the most important part of their psychological well-being. 

A prospective research study over eight years using interviews with older adults examined the role of physical and leisure activity as predictors for psychological well-being (Lampinen et al., 2006). With a sample of 1,224 participants, findings demonstrated that mental well-being in later life, is linked with better activity, health and mobility. Scully (1998) conducted a critical review of PA and PWB, findings showed that out of seventeen documents reviewed only two mentioned psychological benefits of PA, even though practitioners would mention benefits such as relaxation when a patient attended a clinic.

Finally, Lapa’s (2015) 84-point survey of students looking at high, moderate and low PA levels and the six psychological dimensions well-being adapted for a Turkish sample of university students. Findings suggested participation in moderate PA between 600-3000 MET – min/week produced positive moods, increased PWB and life satisfaction.