The proposed research aims at investigating the impact that thinking styles and gender have on the psychological well-being of university students. The quantitative data that will be required will mainly be collected through self-report questionnaires that will be comprised of thinking styles inventory, scales of psychological well-being, and a demographic information form with ANOVA been used to analyze the data that will be collected.
Keywords: Psychological well-being, thinking styles, well-being among students
The Impacts of Gender and Thinking Altitudes on Psychological Well-Being
During the 21st Century, researchers on psychology changed course after Seligman (1998) noted that apart from psychology involving the study of weakness and damage, it also involves the study of strength and virtue. Indeed, as noted by Snyder and Lopez (2007), the majority of psychology studies in the 20th Century used to focus on what was wrong with people while that is not the case in the 21st Century as the majority of the studies focus on what is right with the people. On the other hand, Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) noted that the change has also impacted the common topics as far as the field of psychology is concerned with topics of hope, happiness, optimism, and happiness are now perceived as part of the positive psychology. In that view, this study focuses on the positive aspect of psychology as it investigates the impact that thinking styles and gender have on the psychological well-being of university students.
As discussed by Moore and Keyes (2003), well-being in adulthood entails an amalgamation of cognitive functioning, behavioral functioning, physical health, as well as mental health. The cognitive functioning element incorporates positive consideration procedures. While on the other hand, recuperative sleeping can be expounded on as an ideal example of physical health. Moreover, Keyes and Waterman (2003) also ascertained the use of the level of well-being to show how a person is being engaged in communal initiatives that, among others, comprises of volunteering.
The focus of this study concentrates on the impact and connection of thinking styles as well as psychological well-being that affects psychological well-being resulting in comprehending features of personality. The problem statement in this research will focus on investigating whether thinking styles have any impact on the psychological well-being of the university students.
The Purpose of the Study
Even though there are various studies that have focused on the subject of thinking approaches and psychological well-being individually, a review of the existing literature shows that the paradigms have never been investigated together in a single research thus giving room for the study. Precisely, the proposed research purposes to investigate the impacts of gender and thinking altitudes on psychological well-being. In that view, it is anticipated that the findings of the study will offer information regarding the thinking level of university students and the impact that thinking levels have on the psychological well-being of the students. In that view, it can be explained that the findings of the proposed research will be of great importance both to the research topic as well as to the experts practicing counseling.
In addition, the findings of the research are anticipated to provide data pertaining to the thinking attitudes of psychological well-being of university students. Indeed, it is vital to articulate more constructive and effective rational styles in the context of psychological well-being, which further are of great benefit to the counseling practice. The argument is based on the fact that once the thinking style that is positively connected to psychological well-being is identified, psychotherapists can then be able to focus on modifying the less operative styles, and later adopt the styles that are more operative. By doing so, psychotherapists will be able to enhance the psychological well-being of the individuals. Even though the approaches are mainly understood through socialization, Sternberg (2009) has also noted that the styles can also be taught. In that view, it can be noted that founded on the characteristic of thinking approaches, various activities could be advanced for counseling practice. For those specific reasons, it can thus be explained that the proposed research is indeed justified.
The Research Questions
In order to ensure that the objectives of the proposed research will be achieved, the following are the research questions that have to be answered first:
- Does there exist any differences among low and high levels of global thinking in the context of psychological well-being of university students?
- Is there any difference between male and female students’ psychological well-being?
- Does gender have any impact on the psychological well-being of university students?
The Theories/Literature Review
The literature review highlights certain theories that relate to the problem statement. It mainly focuses on well-being as well as thinking styles. The first section review literature that is connected to the topic of well-being, while the last section of the paper focuses on thinking styles, and Sternberg’s model of mental self-government.
The definition of well-being as used in the proposed research is the one given by Hatch et al. (2007) who have noted that; well-being is the ability to actively undertake work as well as recreation, establish meaningful connections with others, create a logic of freedom and objective of life, and to experience positive feelings. On the other hand, psychological well-being entails how dedication to existing challenges is considered (Keyes at al. 2002).
As far as past studies on the topic of well-being are concerned, it is necessary to note that the studies are mainly segmented into two approaches that comprise of hedonic and eudemonic approaches. The hedonic approach entails researching on happiness and defining well-being in the context of attainment of pleasure, and avoidance of pain. On the other hand, the eudemonic approach involves concentrating on meaning as well as the level of functioning in life as well as human potential (Ryff and Singer, 2008).
The dimensions of well-being mainly comprise of subjective and psychology well-being. As noted by Kuzucu (2006), subjective well-being entails happiness and lack of problems while psychological well-being entails personal advancement, self-actualization, and efforts to grow up. Subjective well-being as explained by Keyes and Waterman (2003) is linked to the emotional and cognitive assessment of how well people feel and how practical they are socially as well as personally.
According to Zhang and Stenberg (2006), thinking styles comprise of intellectual styles that also incorporates cognitive styles, learning styles as well as problem-solving styles. The intellectual style entails a person’s tendency to process information and manage any developments taking place in life. From a review of some of the past studies that focused on thinking styles, Sternberg (2009) pointed out that there are four main studies approaches that have been used in the studies. It comprises of the onion model, two-dimensional style and learning strategies, cognitive styles, and model of mental self-government respectively (Curry, 1983; Riding and Cheema, 1991; Miller, 1987; Sternberg (1997). However, this research proposal concentrates and put more focus on Sternberg’s model of mental self-government that perceives the thinking levels as an aspect of thinking styles.
Sternberg introduced the model of mental self-government and later postulates the manner in which the government is run. It further indicates how individuals tend to manage their own personal thinking. According to the scholar, individuals do not have a style but instead have a profile of styles where the preferred profile of style is mainly used so that a person can be effective. However, the scholar noted that the disparity among styles and environments results to disagreements and conflict between different couples. Thus, according to the scholar, for one to avoid the conflicts, there has to be an ideal match between styles, aptitudes and environmental needs.
H1: Female university students have a higher level of psychological well-being when compared to the male students.
The hypothesis is founded on the notion that the male students are more likely to be involved with other activities during the course of their studies and as a result, the students’ involvement in these activities tend to affect their psychological well-being, especially to the male students.
H2: There is no major difference in the psychological well-being of individuals who have high scores and low scores in global thinking.
The hypothesis is founded on the presumption that even though high levels of thinking style and low level of thinking style might have an impact into how an individual carries out his/her activities, they have no impact on the psychological well-being.
As discussed by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2015), the research methodology of any given research entails the approaches and techniques used by the researcher to ensure that ideal research data are collected. It also ensures that the aims and objectives of the research are achieved as stipulated. In that view, the paper will then focus on the research methodology that will be used in the proposed research to help investigate on how the impacts that thinking styles and gender have on the psychological well-being of university students. Moreover, the paper will also expound on the participants who will take part in the research study as well as the sampling technique, materials, and measures to be used in the proposed research. The data collection procedure that will be employed will also be highlighted.
Prior to discussing other aspects of the research methodology, it is paramount to first specify the research method that will be used in the proposed research. It is evident that the research method that will be used will have an impact on other aspects of the research methodology (Somekh and Lewin, 2005). Nancy and Grove (2007) state that qualitative research, quantitative research, and mixed research method are the three main types of research methods that can be used in any given research. However, from a review of the three research methods, quantitative research method has been found to be an ideal research method to be used since it enables the researcher to collect data from a large sample size as demanded by the research phenomena under investigation. Cresswell (2003) also ascertain that quantitative research method will be highly preferred since the method will make it possible for the researcher to collect data from a large sample size as required from the nature of the study. He further supports the idea that the method enables the researcher to analyze the collected data using various statistical tools.
In addition, according to Burns (1997), O’Leary (2004) and Cresswell (2003), ascertain that survey research entails one of the most vital aspects of measurements as far as applied social research is concerned. The surveyor in the proposed research will use questionnaires with close-ended questions to aid the research process. As explained by Somekh and Lewin (2005), a survey questionnaire comprises of a series of questions as well as other prompts used to gather information from the respondents.
Variables as have been explained by Earl (1983) entails names that are assigned to the variance that one intends to expound. On the other hand, a variable has been explained by Polit and Beck (2004) and Nancy and Grove (2007) is mostly either as an impact of some force or is itself the force that results in a change in another variable hence the reason the terms dependent and independent variables are normally used. The three main variables in the proposed research will comprise of psychological well-being, global thinking, and local thinking.
To measure psychological well-being, the Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPW) which is a structured, self-report instrument founded on the 6 elements of psychological well-being and SPW and was advanced by Ryff (1989) will be used. The six aspects comprise of autonomy, positive relationships with others, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, personal growth, and purpose in life. Each item will be responded with a six-point Likert scale. The reason why this approach has been preferred is mainly because it will ensure that the data collected will be consistent and can also be easily analyzed through the use of statistical tools. On the other hand, in order to measure both global and local thinking, Thinking Styles Inventory (TSI) that was advanced by Sternvberg and Wagner (1992) will be used. The styles inventory is a seven-point scale that comprises of the self-report questionnaire comprising of five factors and 104 items as 13 subscales have 8 items each. This approach has been commonly used by different scholars who have measured global and local thinking styles and for that reason, the approach has been found to be ideal to be used in the proposed research.
As far as multivariate approach is concerned, Johnson and Wichern (2007) have explained that the approach is mainly based on the statistical concept of multivariate statistics, which entails observation as well as analysis of more than one statistical outcome variable at a specific time. In the proposed research, the multivariate approach could be used in variable selection as well as measurement in order to critically assess the research issue. In that view, it can thus be noted that apart from the researcher using the data that will be collected using a survey questionnaire, the researcher will also observe the respondents in their natural settings. In particular, it can be noted that it is expected that the observations from the natural settings will be vital as they will offer the researcher an understanding of the research issue from a different perspective.
As noted by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2015), a research participant is referred to as a research subject, and mainly entails either an individual or a group of individuals who are normally the target of the observation by the researchers. In that perspective, the participants of any given research, therefore, entails the individuals who actually take part in the study that is being carried out by the researcher.
In view of the proposed study, since the study aims to research on the impacts that thinking styles and gender have on the psychological well-being of university students, the participants of the research will comprise of university students. On the other hand, to ensure that the findings of the proposed research will be generalized to the entire research population, the participants to take part in the proposed research will be sampled from different universities within the United States.
Since it is not possible for a researcher to collect data from the entire research population, the researcher is always advisable to use the ideal sampling technique that will ensure the research subjects used are the correct presentation of the entire research population (Lucas, 2014). On the other hand, sampling as has been noted by Yin (2014) entails selecting units from a specific population that is of interest so that once the sample is studied, the findings can be generalized to the entire research population.
As far as the proposed research is concerned, the sampling method that will be used will be non-probability random sampling approach that will be purposive. To be more specific, the non-probability random sampling technique will entail convenience sampling technique. The main reason for opting to use convenience sampling technique is mainly due to the fact that the technique will allow the researcher to collect responses from the students who will be willing to take part in the study and will be readily available (Smith, 1993; Dillman et al. 2009). On the other hand, the fact that the sample size of the study is large implies that random sampling approach will be the most suitable sampling approach for the study. The use of this technique will make it possible for the researcher to recruit the large number of the research respondents required to fill in questionnaires (Grissom, Loeb, and Master, 2013). Nevertheless, to ensure that the subjects used in the research are the ideal representation of the research population, the researcher need to ensure that the research subjects are recruited from various universities.
Materials and Measures
The data collection methods that will be used by the researcher will involve both the primary and secondary methods. In the proposed research, the researcher will use either structured or unstructured questions. The structured questions as noted by Amri and Kisangau (2012) are close-ended while on the other hand, unstructured questions tend to be open-ended. The research question format to be used will take the form of structured question format since such questions will make it possible for the researcher to easily analyze the high volume of data collected from a large sample size. The surveys (questionnaires) will be distributed to each participant (students), as oral interviews will also be conducting to some of the willing students. The questionnaires will take an open-ended form of questions that are standardized in nature. The interview will also be conducted to give room for asking as many questions as possible that address the research questions. Some of the data collection will incorporate pilot test to test the feasibility of the research work.
As mentioned by Yin (2014), when carrying out a research, it is important that the researcher has a clear research procedure that is to be complied with since that is the only way that the researcher can be certain that he/she collected the required data for the research that is been carried out. Thus, in the context of the proposed research, it will be crucial that the researcher sticks to the developed research procedure. Once the research participants have been selected through convenience sampling technique, the researcher will then brief the respondents on the reason why the research is been carried out and the reason why the participation of the research subjects in the research is important.
The research subjects will then be assured that their identity will not be disclosed to any third party and will also be made aware of the fact that they will be free to withdraw their involvement in the study any time that they feel there is a need to do so. Thereafter, the research subjects will then be asked to sign consent form since it will be important that those taking part in the research give their consent in been involved in the research. After the research subjects have given their consent, they will then be asked to give their email address so that they can be emailed the link to the survey questionnaire. The researcher will then email the link with the survey questions. In order to ensure that the respondents respond to the research questions within a specific deadline, the respondents will be informed that the link will only be active for a couple of days.
The researcher should adopt certain guiding principles such as the use of professionals and maintaining a responsible attitude towards research as well as the use of the appropriate means of data collection. It is a responsibility of researchers to make an adjustment for demographic factors associated with cultural background, ethnicity or even disability of individuals to take part in the study. The researcher should seek for an informed consent prior to the commencement of the research. He or she must ensure that the findings are carefully interpreted. Prior plans towards initiating, maintaining, and terminating the relationship of the correspondents were clarified to the participants for the purpose of data collection. Participants will then be given a prior orientation of the research study to enable them to participate voluntarily and without any coercion. An introductory letter to the sitting Senate of University management was also drafted seeking legal permission to carry out research in the different institutions. An elaborate purpose of the study, methods to be used and any risk associated with the research were noted to the management for the approval.
All the data collected will be analyzed using an appropriate statistical and other analytic software such as ‘R’ software, Excel or Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). In particular, Likert Scale will be effectively used, as the distributed responses will be easily analyzed using statistical tools. However, when the researcher uses Excel to interpret the collected data, Microsoft Excel’s Analysis of variance commonly known to as ANOVA, will use in the analysis and presentation of data.
The researcher will gather all quantitative data collected from the questionnaire, and organize, summarize, describe, interpret and communicate them to a more meaningfully through descriptive statistics. In addition, the graphs, tables, charts, and percentages will be used to present descriptive results. Nevertheless, researchers shall receive training prior to the actual field study on expressed instructions for substitutes or rather isolation of respondents that raise many errors. The researcher can then analyze the results and give a full report. The process will help to come up with the conclusions as well as recommendations.
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