September 2016 Member highlight: Tithi Bhatnagar
September 2016 Member highlight:
Tithi Bhatnagar, Ph.D.
- Describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
I am a psychologist by training and an academician and researcher by passion. My research interest lies in the field of Positive Psychology, mainly Subjective Well-Being.
I completed my doctoral research as a Teaching Assistant from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, India. My doctoral dissertation was in the area of Subjective Well-Being (SWB), where I explored the concept of SWB in the Indian context using both qualitative as well as quantitative research methods. There has not been a systematic study to understand the concept in the Indian context. The objectives of this study were: to explore the factors that determine SWB amongst Indians, conceptualize the concept and identify domains enhancing or reducing SWB; to develop and standardize a measure to map individual well being and to propose an index for SWB. The purpose of this research was to enable individuals understand themselves better and contribute to the social well being by being happier and more satisfied. In order to meet these objectives, the study had been conducted in three phases. In the first phase, an exploratory study was conducted upon 184 respondents across the ages (children, adolescents, young adults, middle aged, elderly) and across the locales (urban, urban slums & rural). Their responses were recorded, transcribed and content analyzed. This exercise was successful in identifying the determinants enhancing well being (a condition of SWB) as well as reducing the concept of SWB. These determinants have been further clustered into domains (both positive and negative) of SWB. Phase one of the research helps the conceptualization of SWB in the Indian context and the findings show differences from researches in the West. The second phase deals with the development of a SWB Measure. A preliminary SWB Measure was developed (7 point rating scale) with two parts on the basis of the clustered determinants (Domains). It was administered upon 1050 college students and subjected to factor analysis (PAF – Promax Rotation) with an initial reliability of .90 and .87 respectively. The final SWBM was developed as a 5 point rating scale with two parts – 32 items for Part I, measuring the positive factors and 20 items for Part II, measuring the negative factors. An attempt was made in the third phase of the study to standardize the SWB Measure and also develop an index for SWB. The final SWBM was administered upon a sample of 1369 respondents across ages and across locales.
The SWBM was standardized by computing the confirmatory factor analysis, reliability analysis and by validating it against Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985) and PANAS (Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988). The CFA suggests an adequate fit for the SWBM; the measure shows high reliability (.915 and .925 for both the parts respectively). Discriminant construct validation of the SWBM shows a weak and non-significant relationship with PANAS (the value of r for SWBM Part I with PANAS (NA) = -.010 and that for SWBM Part II with PANAS (PA) was -.048.) and SWLS (value of r for Part II and SWLS = .054). The index developed for SWB is a composite SWB score which is obtained by subtracting the final average score of Part II from that of final average score of Part I and is indicative of the extent of subjective well being or subjective ill being or fuzzy subjective well being experienced by the individual at a collective level. The idea behind the research is to enable individuals understand themselves better and contribute to their well being by being happier and more satisfied.
This research has a lot of policy implications. Articles on this research had appeared in Popular Media at that time. Research papers based on this research have been presented in national and several international conferences.
Post my Ph.D. experience, I am happy to have tried different career streams like freelance consulting, academic teaching, informally guiding research, working in a corporate set-up, and working in a semi-academic set-up. I am happy to have had these varied experiences as they have all added immense value in my learning journey. I truly believe that you should do what your heart wishes, success and money is bound to follow. Following my heart, I am currently working on two collaborative research projects on happiness and well-being, teaching courses on research methods and subjective well-being (as a visiting faculty), and conducting workshops on subjective well-being.
- What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
I have always wanted to contribute toward the betterment of society through research. My aspiration has ever been to work in the area of social development and propose a Social Development Index. For my Ph.D. (back in 2003), I started with Social Development Indicators. Wanting to do something new and original, I was exploring emerging constructs in the field, which offered lot of research scope. It was then that I read on SWB and I knew this is where I wished to begin. In addition, it was interesting to study the concept in the Indian context assuming that the parameters that defined the concept in the West, may not necessarily define them in the East. My research supports that culture has an important role to play in the field. The other attraction is that QOL studies are applicable to all human beings, irrespective of age, gender, community, income groups, so and so forth. It has been a wonderful experience to interact with thousands of individuals with varied backgrounds and understand their concept of well-being. No book can teach fieldwork and better your interviewing skills more than the field itself!
- What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
I believe that as QOL researchers we need to focus on systematic longitudinal studies more. Measuring and documenting the QOL of different age levels (both objectively and subjectively) could be a useful tool in predicting the happiness levels of future generations and intervention strategies could be formulated to improve QOL at age appropriate levels. In addition, more of QOL research on ethnic groups and minorities to be integrated into main stream QOL research, and some showcase researches are required to get a buy-in of governments of the world (not just few countries but as many as possible) to take this up for Nation Building.
- How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
ISQOLS has played a vital role in help me grow as a researcher. I first became a member of ISQOLS in 2010 during its annual conference held in Bangkok. I had been interacting with Professors in the field, referring to their work and there was a chance to meet them through this conference. I realized during the Conference that there was substantial work going on in the field and the researchers community of ISQOLS is a happy oneJ. I knew that I have to be member of this Society and found myself self-motivated to keep on contributing in the field. I found that the senior members of this Society are very encouraging in grooming junior researchers. I have attended pre-workshops on publications, which are very inspiring and informative. It feels great to be a part of ISQOLS, for it serves as an excellent learning platform. It is where I have met my favorite authors and researchers in the field. ISQOLS has given me opportunity to connect with like-minded researchers who want to make a difference to people’s lives and given opportunities to collaborate on research projects across the globe.
- Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
“The Woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost