Seminal Published Empirical POB & PsyCap Research


While there are thousands of peer reviewed research articles on POB and PsyCap, from every continent, the following articles are identified as seminal to this robust and developing body of academic literature. The POBI is committed to peer reviewed, top academic journal articles as highlighted below.


Psychological Capital: An Evidence-Based Positive Approach (2017)

Luthans, F., Youssef-Morgan, C. M. (2017). Psychological capital: An evidence-based positive approach.
Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4, 339-366.


The now recognized core construct of psychological capital, or simply PsyCap, draws from positive psychology in general and positive organizational behavior (POB) in particular. The first-order positive psychological resources that make up PsyCap include hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism, or the HERO within. These four best meet the inclusion criteria of being theory- and research-based, positive, validly measurable, state-like, and having impact on attitudes, behaviors, performance and well-being. The article first provides the background and precise meaning of PsyCap and then comprehensively reviews its measures, theoretical mechanisms, antecedents and outcomes, levels of analysis, current status and needed research, and finally application. Particular emphasis is given to practical implications, which focuses on PsyCap development, positive leadership, and novel applications such as the use of video games and gamification techniques. The overriding theme throughout is that PsyCap has both scientific, evidence-based rigor and practical relevance.

Positive Psychological Capital: Measurement and Relationship with Performance and Satisfaction (2007)

Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J., Avey, J.B., & Norman, S.M. (2007). Positive psychological capital: Measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 60, 541–572.


Two studies were conducted to analyze how hope, resilience, optimism, and efficacy individually and as a composite higher order factor predicted work performance and satisfaction. Results from Study 1 provided psychometric support for a new survey measure designed to assess each of these 4 facets, as well as a composite factor. Study 2 results indicated a significant positive relationship regarding the composite of these 4 facets with performance and satisfaction. Results from Study 2 also indicated that the composite factor maybe a better predictor of performance and satisfaction than the 4 individual facets. Limitations and practical implications conclude the article.

The Additive Value of Positive Psychological Capital in Predicting Work Attitudes and Behaviors (2010)

Avey, J. B., Luthans, F., & Youssef, C. M. (2010). The additive value of positive psychological capital in predicting work attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Management, 36(2), 430-452.


Conventional wisdom and recent research have supported the importance of employee positivity. However, empirical analysis has not yet demonstrated potential added value of recently recognized psychological capital over the more established positive traits in predicting work attitudes and behaviors. This study found that psychological capital was positively related to extra role organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) and negatively to organizational cynicism, intentions to quit, and counterproductive workplace behaviors. With one exception, psychological capital also predicted unique variance in these outcomes beyond demographics, self-evaluation, personality, and person-organization and person-job fit. The article concludes with implications for future research and practical application.

The Development and Resulting Performance Impact of Positive Psychological Capital (2010)

Luthans, F., Avey, J.B., Avolio, B.J., & Peterson, S.J. (2010). The development and resulting performance impact of positive psychological capital. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1), 41–67.


Recently, theory and research have supported psychological capital (PsyCap) as an emerging core construct linked to positive outcomes at the individual and organizational level. However, to date, little attention has been given to PsyCap development through training interventions; nor have there been attempts to determine empirically if such PsyCap development has a causal impact on participants’ performance. To fill these gaps we first conducted a pilot test of the PsyCap intervention (PCI) model with a randomized control group design. Next, we conducted a follow-up study with a cross section of practicing managers to determine if following the training guidelines of the PCI caused the participants’ performance to improve. Results provide beginning empirical evidence that short training interventions such as PCI not only may be used to develop participants’ psychological capital, but can also lead to an improvement in their on-the-job performance. The implications these findings have for human resource development and performance management conclude the article.

Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Positive Psychological Capital on Employee Attitudes, Behaviors, and Performance (2011)

Avey, J. B, Reichard, R.J., Luthans, F., & Mahatre, K.H. (2011). Meta-analysis of the impact of positive psychological capital on employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. behaviors, and performance. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22(2), 127–152.


The positive core construct of psychological capital (or simply PsyCap), consisting of the psychological resources of hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism, has recently been demonstrated to be open to human resource development (HRD) and performance management. The research stream on PsyCap has now grown to the point that a quantitative summary analysis of its impact on employee attitudes, behaviors, and especially performance is needed. The present meta-analysis included 51 independent samples (representing a total of N  12,567 employees) that met the inclusion criteria. The results indicated the expected significant positive relationships between PsyCap and desirable employee attitudes (job satisfaction, organizational commitment, psychological well-being), desirable employee behaviors (citizenship), and multiple measures of performance (self, supervisor evaluations, and objective). There was also a significant negative relationship between PsyCap and undesirable employee attitudes (cynicism, turnover intentions, job stress, and anxiety) and undesirable employee behaviors (deviance). A sub-analysis found no major differences between the types of performance measures used (i.e., between self, subjective, and objective). Finally, the analysis of moderators revealed the relationship between PsyCap and employee outcomes were strongest in studies conducted in the United States and in the service sector. These results provide a strong evidence-based recommendation for the use of PsyCap in HRD and performance programs. Theoretical contributions, future research directions, and practical guidelines for HRD conclude the article.

Psychological Capital and Employee Performance: A Latent Growth Modeling Approach (2011)

Peterson, S.J., Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J, Walumbwa, F.O, & Zhang, Z. (2011). Psychological capital and employee performance: a latent growth modeling approach. Personnel Psychology, 64(2), 427–50.


The positive core construct of psychological capital (consisting of efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience) has been conceptually and empirically demonstrated to be related to employee performance. However, much of this work has relied on cross-sectional designs to examine these relationships. This study utilizes longitudinal data from a large financial service organization (N = 179 financial advisory-type employees) to examine within-individual change in psychological capital over time and if this change relates to their change in performance. Latent growth modeling analyses revealed statistically significant within-individual change in psychological capital over time, and that this change in psychological capital was related to change in 2 types of performance outcomes (supervisor-rated performance and financial performance, i.e., individual sales revenue). Moreover, results of an exploratory cross-lagged panel analysis suggested a causal relationship such that prior psychological capital leads to subsequent performance rather than vice versa. Taken together, these results highlight the impact employees’ psychological capital may have on their subjectively and objectively measured performance over time and offer evidence-based practical guidelines for human resource selection, development, and performance management.

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