2019 – 2020 Constructs

Problem Solving

The cognitive-affective-behavioral processes by which people attempt to resolve real-life problems in a social environment (Siu & Shek, K.K., 2009). Social problem solving helps individuals manage their emotions through successful adaptation of coping strategies. It also helps with maintaining positive interpersonal relationships through conflict management and resolution.

Life Satisfaction

The cognitive and global self-evaluation of one’s own quality of life (Diener, 1985) which has been studied and found to be similar and consistent across cultures. Research has shown that life satisfaction is predicted by various variables including social, cultural and financial variables. It has direct relationships with positive and negative emotions and social support (Diener, 2000).


The appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to one and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. It is related to pleasant feelings of experiencing a favor or benefit from others (McCullough et al. 2001). Gratitude is a positive emotion and is an important human virtue. It also has a positive relationship with active coping styles, social support, and well-being (Yin & Yeh, 2014).

Meaning Making

A “sense of coherence or understanding of existence, a sense of purpose in one’s life, the pursuit and attainment of worthwhile goals, and an accompanying sense of fulfillment” (Ho, Cheung, & Cheung, 2010, p. 2). Although the meaning in life is a personal experience, there are also related social connections; for example, the collectivist cultural values (characteristic of Eastern societies) versus individualistic ones that are more characteristic of Western societies (Garcia, 2015).


The ability and willingness to care, feel, and take the perspective of others. It has been mostly studied in the developmental psychology field; scholars such as Davis (1994) emphasize both cognitive and affective perspectives of empathy. Many cognitive theorists argue that empathy is grounded in social understanding, whereas moral and philosophical theorists suggest that empathy refers to an individual’s sympathetic response to others’ suffering (Zahavi & Overgaard, 2012) and deliberate effort to understand, communicate, take up, and act based on others’ perspectives (Gair, 2011; Hojat, 2007).


Defined as “generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals” (Zimmerman, 2000, p. 14). Self-regulation is a process that enables students to personally activate, manage, and control their cognitions, affects, emotions, and behaviors to achieve personal goals (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2008). Importance of developing self-belief and self-regulatory capabilities in students has been confirmed in many studies in educational fields (Zimmerman, 2008).

Sense of Belonging

Refers to feelings of being included, accepted, cared for, and supported. Sense of belonging is a context-related concept that is influenced by environmental and situational variables. Sense of belonging in an academic institution is defined as a student’s perception of being supported, accepted, respected, and included in that institution (Goodenow, 1993). Sense of belonging is strongly predicted by social support, as social support has been found to be positively correlated with coping mechanisms as well as physical and socio-emotional health.


The individual’s belief in his/her ability to organize and execute certain behaviors that are necessary in completing a given task successfully. Self-efficacy affects how people think and feel. It influences the decision to initiate an action, the types of activity and the level of motivation, effort and time that one is willing to consider in completing certain tasks. Many studies support Bandura’s (1977) claim that the beliefs in ability to be successful in a task plays a more important role in success than the capability itself.


The ability and willingness to let go of hard feelings and the need to take revenge against someone who has wronged oneself or committed a perceived injustice against oneself or others. Forgiveness is a broad construct and a subjective concept that is perceived differently by individuals from different cultures or contexts. Enright and Gassin (1992) defined forgiveness as the “willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love towards him or her” (p. 102). Nasser, Abu-Nimer and Mahmoud (2014) suggest that forgiveness is a personal decision that originates from intrinsic motivation to let go.


The degree of influence one’s faith has on his/her values, behavior and everyday life. According to Huber and Huber (2012) religiosity consists of different dimensions such as public practice, private practice, religious experience, ideology and intellect. These dimensions together can be considered as representative of the total of religious values and how these values are shaped and practiced in peoples’ lives. As Teymoori, Heydari, and Nasiri (2014) state, “Religion is a social institution that dramatically influences individuals’ behaviors and daily actions as well as their social and political orientations” (p. 93). Many scholars argue that people seek religion when they are experiencing any kind of stress or hardship and religion can protect individuals from different mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Collectivistic vs Individualistic Orientation

Individualism is defined as a situation in which people are concerned with themselves and close family members only, while collectivism is defined as a situation in which people feel they belong to larger in-groups (Darwish & Huber, 2003). People from individualistic cultures have an independent view of themselves and perceive themselves as separate from others. People from collectivistic cultures are more likely to have an interdependent view of themselves, see themselves connected to others, and define themselves in terms of relationships with others. In this study, the AEMS research team would like to examine whether the adoption of one of the orientations may still hold true in this globalized reality and research ways it correlates with well-being.