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Domain-specific measures of wellbeing

Warr’s (1990) model of wellbeing focuses on wellbeing in the context of work.

Three axis model

The three axis model is based on the principle that wellbeing consists of two dimensions: pleasure and arousal.

Using these dimensions, Warr (1990) describes the content and intensity of job-related feelings on three key axes:

  • Displeased-pleased
  • Anxiety-contented
  • Depressed-enthusiastic

The model proposes that wellbeing is a function of experiencing enthusiasm rather than anxiety, pleasure rather than displeasure, and comfort rather than depression.

Participants are given a list of twelve emotions and asked to indicate for each one how often their job has made them feel that way in the past week.

Responses are:

  • Never
  • Occasionally
  • Some of the time
  • Much of the time
  • Most of the time
  • All of the time

Answers are scored from one to six, respectively.

Items covering the two axes are combined in the questionnaire. A person is characterised depending on where they fall on the axes.

Diagram showing the principal axis for the measure of wellbeing. Around the edge of the diagram are (1a) Displeased to (1b) Pleased (2a) Anxious to (2b) Comfortable and (3a) Depressed to (3b) Enthusiastic. At the centre is Arousal.

Click to expand

Adapted from Warr (1987)


Warr, P. (1987) Work, Unemployment, and Mental Health. New York: Oxford University Press

Warr, P. (1990) ‘The Measurement of Well-being and Other Aspects of Mental Health’. Journal of Occupational Psychology [online] 63 (3), 193-210. available from https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_scopus2-s2.0-84986651427&context=PC&vid=COV_VU1&search_scope=Primo_Central&tab=remote&lang=en_US [10th May 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Wellbeing at Work: An Introduction

Coventry University