Virtue, well-being, and mentalized affectivity

Submitted: July 31, 2023
Accepted: November 6, 2023
Published: December 31, 2023
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Virtue ethics, featuring the claim that virtue leads to wellbeing, has been imported by psychologists from philosophy. In the first part of the paper, we re-examine the source of virtue ethics in Aristotle’s philosophy and question whether virtues can be the path to eudaimonistic well-being for us, given that contemporary society differs from ancient society in terms of a lack of consensus about virtues. We focus on the modulation of emotions as a good starting place for reconstruing virtue ethics, and we affirm a connection to well-being through the construct of “mentalized affectivity”, which is a specific kind of emotion regulation. In the second half of this hybrid paper, we provide evidence for the link between mentalized affectivity and well-being, based upon an empirical study with an adult sample (N=558). Our study examined how the Mentalized Affectivity Scale (MAS) predicts subjective well-being compared to five commonly used and related measures: Difficulty with Emotion Regulation Scale; Emotion Regulation Questionnaire; Flexibility Regulation of Emotional Expression scale; Reflective Functioning Questionnaire; Toronto Alexithymia Scale. The most important finding is that the MAS and Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale are most predictive of satisfaction with life. A second finding, less relevant for the present paper, is that the MAS (namely, its components of Identifying and Processing) strongly predicted psychopathology, including anxiety and mood disorders. This suggests that the MAS is a valuable tool for research on emotion regulation, well-being, and psychopathology, and that mentalized affectivity ought to be regarded as a promising construct for re-describing and specifying the contemporary relevance of virtue ethics.

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How to Cite

Jurist, E., Greenberg, D., Pizziferro, M., Alaluf, R., & Perez Sosa, M. (2023). Virtue, well-being, and mentalized affectivity. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2023.710