Virtue, well-being, and mentalized affectivity

Submitted: July 31, 2023
Accepted: November 6, 2023
Published: December 31, 2023
Abstract Views: 875
PDF: 353
Supplementary Material: 74
HTML: 22
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


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.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1985.
Aristotle. The Eudemian Ethics. Oxford: Oxford, 2011. DOI:
Bagby, R.M., Parker, J.D., & Taylor, G.J. (1994). The twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. I. Item selection and cross-validation of the factor structure. Journal of psychosomatic research, 38(1), 23-32. DOI:
Baril, A. (2017). Virtue and well-being. The Routledge handbook of the philosophy of well-being. Routledge.
Bateman, A.W., & Fonagy, P. Eds (2019). Handbook of mentalizing in mental health practice. Second edition. American Psychiatric Association.
Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon's Mechanical Turk a new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality, data?. Perspectives on psychological science, 6(1), 3-5. DOI:
Burton, C.L., & Bonanno, G.A. (2016). Measuring ability to enhance and suppress emotional expression: The Flexible Regulation of Emotional Expression (FREE) Scale. Psychological assessment, 28(8), 929. DOI:
Christopher, J.C., & Hickinbottom, S. (2008). Positive psychology, ethnocentrism, and the disguised ideology of individualism. Theory & psychology, 18(5), 563-589. doi: 10.1177/0959354308093396 DOI:
Christopher, J., Richardson, F., & Slife, B. (2008). Thinking through positive psychology. Theory & Psychology. DOI:
Diener, E., Inglehart, R., & Tay, L. (2013). Theory and validity of life satisfaction scales.
Social Indicators Research, 112, 497-527. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0076-y DOI:
Diener, E.D., Emmons, R.A., Larsen, R.J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75. DOI:
Downey, C.A., & Chang, E.C. (2014). History of cultural context in positive psychology: we finally come to the start of the journey. Perspectives on the intersection of multiculturalism and positive psychology, 3-16. DOI:
Fonagy, P., Gergely, G., Jurist, E., & Target, M. (2002). Affect regulation, mentalization, and the development of the self. Routledge.
Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., Moulton-Perkins, A., Lee, Y.W., Warren, F., Howard, S., ... & Lowyck, B. (2016). Development and validation of a self-report measure of mentalizing: the reflective functioning questionnaire. PloS One, 11(7), e0158678. DOI:
Fowers, B.J. (2008). From continence to virtue: recovering goodness, character unity, and character types for positive psychology. Theory & Psychology, 18(5), 629-653. doi: 10.1177/0959354308093399 DOI:
Fowers, B. (2016). Aristotle on eudaimonia. Handbook of eudaimonic well-being. DOI:
Gratz, K.L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26(1), 41-54. DOI:
Greenberg, D.M., Kolasi, J., Hegsted, C.P., Berkowitz, Y., & Jurist, E.L. (2017). Mentalized affectivity: A new model and assessment of emotion regulation. PloS ONE, 12(10), e0185264. DOI:
Greenberg, D.M., Rudenstine, S., Alaluf, R., & Jurist, E.L. (2021). Development and validation of the Brief-Mentalized Affectivity Scale: Evidence from cross-sectional online data and an urban community-based mental health clinic. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 77, 2638-2652. doi: 10.1002/jclp.23203 DOI:
Gross, J.J., & John, O.P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(2), 348. DOI:
Held, B.S. (2004). The negative side of positive psychology. Journal of humanistic psychology, 44(1), 9-46. DOI:
Held, B.S. (2005). The" Virtues" of Positive Psychology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 25(1), 1. DOI:
Jurist, E.L. (2005). Mentalized affectivity. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 22(3), 426. DOI:
Jurist, E.L. (2008). Minds and yours: New directions for mentalization theory. In Jurist, E.L., Slade, A.E., & Bergner, S.E. (Eds.). Mind to mind: Infant research, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis.
Jurist, E.L., & Meehan, K.B. (2009). Attachment, mentalization, and reflective functioning. Attachment theory and research in clinical work with adults, Eds. J. Obegi and E. Berant, 71-93.
Jurist, E.L. (2010). Mentalizing minds. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 30(4), 289-300. DOI:
Jurist, E. (2018). Minding emotions: Cultivating Mentalization in Psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life.
Kiknadze, N.C., & Fowers, B.J. (2023). Cultural variation in flourishing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-22. DOI:
Kosman, L.A. (1980). Being properly affected: Virtues and feelings in Aristotle's ethics. Essays on Aristotle's ethics. Ed. A. Rorty. DOI:
Laloyaux, J., Fantini, C., Lemaire, M., Luminet, O., & Larøi, F. (2015). Evidence of contrasting patterns for suppression and reappraisal emotion regulation strategies in alexithymia. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 203(9), 709-717. DOI:
Laney, M., & Brenner, A. (2019). Virtue ethics in psychotherapy. Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics, 177-188. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198817338.013.17 DOI:
Liotti, M., Spitoni, G.F., Lingiardi, V., Marchetti, A., Speranza, A.M., Valle, A., et al. (2021) Mentalized affectivity in a nutshell: Validation of the Italian version of the Brief-Mentalized Affectivity Scale (B-MAS). PLoS One, 16(12): e0260678. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260678 DOI:
MacIntyre, A. (1981). After virtue. Whose Justice.
McDonald, M. & O’Callaghan, J. (2008). Positive psychology: a Foucauldian critique. The humanist psychologist, 36(2), 127-142. DOI:
Muraven, M., Tice, D.M., & Baumeister, R.F. (1998). Self-control as a limited resource: regulatory depletion patterns. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 774. DOI:
Oettingen, G. (2014). Rethinking positive thinking: Inside the new science of motivation.
Orben, A., Dienlin, T., & Przybylski, A.K. (2019). Social media’s enduring effect on adolescent life satisfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(21), 10226-10228. DOI:
Rinaldi, T., Castelli, I., Greco, A., Greenberg, D.M., Jurist, E., Valle, A., & Marchetti, A. (2021) The Mentalized Affectivity Scale (MAS): Development and validation of the Italian version. PLoS ONE 16(4): e0249272. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249272 DOI:
Seligman, M.E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction (Vol. 55, No. 1, p. 5). American Psychologist, 55(1). doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5 DOI:
Wenzlaff, R.M., & Wegner, D.M. (2000). Thought suppression. Annual review of psychology, 51(1), 59-9. DOI:

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).

List of Cited By :

Crossref logo