In this blog we will introduce the concept of positive psychological capital and the four key theories that build positive psychological capital (PsyCap). In coming blogs we will expand on each of these theories with practical activities that you can do to boost your PsyCap overall.

What is PsyCap?

Psychological Capital can be defined as:

“An individual’s positive psychological state of development that is characterised by:

  1. having confidence (self-efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks;
  2. making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future;
  3. persevering toward goals, and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and
  4. when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resiliency) to attain success” (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007 p. 3)

Each of these components of PsyCap have a background in theory and research; can be measured; can be developed over time and has a positive impact on performance (see Luthans, 2002; Luthans & Youssef, 2004).

Why is PsyCap important?

Research into PsyCap has demonstrated the following:

  • Higher levels of PsyCap is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, organisational commitment and well-being at work
  • It is negatively related to cynicism toward change – people are more open and less cynical about change in their organisations
  • People with higher levels of psychological capital are likely to be energised that it is exhibited as higher performance over longer periods of time
  • People with higher levels of PsyCap are able to generate multiple solutions problems, have positive expectations about results and respond positively to setbacks

We can see that developing and building our PsyCap has real benefits for both individuals and organisations in enhancing workplace well-being and developing ongoing resilience.

How do I measure my PsyCap?

You can measure your own PsyCap by completing the PsyCap questionnaire, which can be found at http://www.socsci.uci.edu/ssarc/internship/webdocs/Week02/PsyCap%20questionnaire.pdf

The questionnaire will give you an indication of your overall Psychological Capital as well as for Hope, Optimism, Self-efficacy and resilience.

In the next blog….

In my next blog contribution, I will discuss the role of Hope in Psychological Capital in detail.

About the Author


Colin Slattery is a Director and founder of Semann & Slattery. He has held a range of senior executive positions with government agencies, the private sector and non-government organisations for 15 years. For the last 13 years Colin has been highly sought after as a change facilitator and coach for individuals and organisations. His unique leadership coaching and mentoring style encourages participants to embrace change on a personal level enabling positive change to occur on a professional business level.