Psychology Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Happiness Studies



First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier


Consistent with the trend toward viewing psychological well-being as more than the absence of illness, we developed an instrument – the personal growth and development scale (PGDS) – that can be used to assess positive change in well-being attributable to context-specific experiences. As part of the validation process, we examined relations between the PGDS and measures of need satisfaction and autonomous motivation in students (N = 241) and employees (N = 468). In the student sample, we also examined relations with engagement and burnout. The findings supported our hypothesis that need satisfaction, autonomous motivation and engagement would relate positively with the PGDS, and that burnout would relate negatively. In a second student sample (N = 377), we collected longitudinal data to investigate how global psychological wellbeing relates to personal growth and development over the course of an academic term. We found that initial levels of global well-being predicted positive changes in growth and development – the rich get richer – and replicated earlier findings regarding relations between the PGDS, need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Future applications of the PGDS for research and practice are discussed.

Citation of this paper:

Anderson, B.K., Meyer, J.P., Vaters, C. et al. Measuring Personal Growth and Development in Context: Evidence of Validity in Educational and Work Settings. J Happiness Stud 21, 2141–2167 (2020).

Find in your library

Included in

Psychology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.