I’ve recently latched onto the ABCD model of psychological entities, where any psychological aspect is defined by following four features/dimensions: Affect( how does it subjectively feel) , Behavior (what are the manifest effects resulting in overt behavioral changes) , Cognition (how is it cognitively appraised) and Desire/Drive(what are the underlying motivations).
I was prompted on this journey by the evolutionary theory of personality (see here) by Theodore Millon, where he identifies four different evolutionarily salient domains and fields of adaptation: Existence (pain/pleasure) mapped to Affect in my model, Adaptation(active/passive) mapped to Behavior in my model, Replication(Self-other) mapped to Desire/drive in my model and finally Abstraction (broad-narrow) mapped to Cognition in my model.
Thus personality clearly is a dynamic between these four ABCD factors. What we habitually feel, how we habitually act, what usually drives us and how we habitually make sense of our situations clearly defines a personality.
I have also covered how emotions can be similarly considered as belonging to these four domains and having four ABCD dimensions– affective in nature, lead to action tendencies, differential appraisal and cognitive underpinnings and different motivational states-whether the motivation to be in control or to nurture the other.
As it happens I am also keenly into this new ‘positive psychology’ stuff and keep reading the practitioners in this field; thus while reading ‘Happier’ I came across the happiness definition (as per Seligman) as anything that is pleasurable, meaningful and engaging, then I could immediately see the relationship to ABCD model by extending the concept of Drive (or intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation) to the mix and thus came up with this ABCD definition of happiness on twitter:
ABCD of happiness: find work that has pleasure(Affect), meaning (Cognition) and is engaging(Behavior) and intrinsically motivating(Desire)
The above to me perfectly sums up the Happiness formula and is very easy to remember too!
I also serendipitously came across this amazing video based on Dan Pink‘s ‘Drive’
That made me think further of how the same ABCD formula applied to work incentives.
The ABCD of incentives – Offer Money (Affective), Mastery (Behavior:skilled) , Purpose (cognition:meaningful) and Autonomy (Drive:intrinsic)
That to me is further proof of the simplicity and power of this simple ABCD formula. So are you ready to apply the ABCD of happiness and work incentives to your life?
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“thus while reading ‘Happier’ I came across the happiness definition (as per Seligman) as anything that is pleasurable, meaningful and engaging, then I could immediately see the relationship to ABCD”
Very interesting. Yes indeed, in fact Seligman actually lifted the ABC (affect, belief, consequence in his version) model out of CBT for his and others’ research around optimism, culminating in his book ‘Learned Optimism’ (which is a good one if you’re like the pos psych stuff, dunno if you’ve read that or not?).
Other happiness measurements would fall fully in the ‘C’ part of your model, such as the popular satisfaction with life scale. In that one, you have to judge how happy you are with your life, so it’s purely cognitive on one hand, but also, since our emotional life will be a criteria in that decision, it’s not completely distinct.
And you already know I’m sure the link between happiness and personality/genetics. As you’ve put it there with the ABCD thing, it all ties together quite nicely.
Yes, indeed! ‘Learned Optimism’ is on my reading list, though right now I’m reading ‘Authentic happiness’ also by Seligman. I’m sure I cannot delay reading these books any further. Also I am currently doing a foundations of positive psychology online certificate course by Penn Univ, so I’m sure there will be more of positive psychology stuff coming onto this blog.
I’m glad you like how the ABCD ties things together. Hope it is able to provide a new and better framework for thinking about stuff in psychology in general and personality/positive psychology in particular.
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