The 18-item Swedish version of Ryff’s psychological wellbeing scale: psychometric properties based on classical test theory and item response theory


Background: Psychological wellbeing is conceptualized as the full engagement and optimal performance in existential challenges of life. Our understanding of psychological wellbeing is important for us humans to survive, adapt, and thrive during the challenges of the 21st century. Hence, the measurement of psychological wellbeing is one cornerstone for the identification and treatment of both mental illness and health promotion. In this context, Ryff operationalized psychological wellbeing as a six-dimensional model of human characteristics: self-acceptance, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, autonomy, and purpose in life. Ryff’s Psychological Wellbeing Scale has been developed and translated into different versions. Here, we examine and describe the psychometric properties of the 18-item Swedish version of Ryff’s Psychological Wellbeing Scale using both Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT). Methods: The data used in the present study was earlier published elsewhere and consists of 768 participants (279 women and 489 men). In addition to the 18-item version of the scale, participants answered the Temporal Satisfaction with Life Scale, the Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule, and the Background and Health Questionnaire. We examined, the 18-item version’s factor structure using different models and its relationship with subjective wellbeing, sociodemographic factors (e.g., education level, gender, age), lifestyle habits (i.e., smoking, frequency of doing exercise, and exercise intensity), and health issues (i.e., pain and sleeping problems). We also analyzed measurement invariance with regard to gender. Moreover, as an addition to the existing literature, we analyzed the properties of the 18 items using Graded Response Model (GRM). Results: Although the original six-factor structure showed a good fit, both CTT and IRT indicated that a five-factor model, without the purpose in life subscale, provided a better fit. The results supported the internal consistency and concurrent validity of the 18-item Swedish version. Moreover, invariance testing showed similar measurement precision by the scale across gender. Finally, we found several items, especially the purpose in life’s item “I live life one day at a time and do not really think about the future,” that might need revision or modification in order to improve measurement. Conclusion: A five-factor solution is a valid and reliable measure for the assessment of psychological wellbeing in the general Swedish population. With some modifications, the scale might achieve enough accuracy to measure the more appropriate and correct six-dimensional theoretical framework as detailed by Ryff. Fortunately, Ryff’s original version contains 20 items per subscale and should therefore act as a perfect pool of items in this endeavor.


Copyright © 2023 Garcia, Kazemitabar and Habibi Asgarabad. cc-by


classical test theory, health, item response theory, psychological wellbeing, psychometrics, wellbeing


Garcia, D., Kazemitabar, M., & Asgarabad, M.H.. 2023. The 18-item Swedish version of Ryff’s psychological wellbeing scale: psychometric properties based on classical test theory and item response theory. Frontiers in Psychology, 14.