Evidence based.
Always practical.

We’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with:

Grounded in theory. Always learning.

The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey Tool is grounded in the psychological theory originally proposed by Dr. Martin Seligman (2011) based on over twenty years of wellbeing studies. Dr. Seligman’s theory outlines five essential factors that contribute to a person’s sense of wellbeing at any age:


Boost mental, physical and social resilience by prioritizing moments of regular heartfelt positivity, lowering stress and mindfully navigating emotions, even when we feel overwhelmed. For example: Sharing what’s working well, getting out into nature, finding reasons to laugh, naming emotions, decoding stress responses.


Improve confidence and creativity by developing our neurological strengths – the things that you’re good at and enjoy doing – even if we’re not sure what they are yet. For example: Discovering and developing your strengths, creating moments of flow, being mindful, staying playful.


Fuel psychological safety and belonging by building more trusting and inclusive relationships, even when we disagree with each other. For example: Listening empathetically, building trust, doing a five-minute favor, random acts of kindness, practicing forgiveness, reaching for curiosity instead of judgment.


Elevate motivation, commitment and satisfaction by making even the most mundane task meaningful, without burning out. For example: Finding the purpose in meaningless tasks, scheduling real breaks, setting boundaries, making a positive difference in the community, feeling connected to country.


Cultivate grit and realize our potential by practicing a growth mindset to support learning even when the pressure to deliver can feel paralyzing. For example: Setting learning goals, investing in small wins, owning failures, reaching for self-compassion, celebrating what’s been learned each day.

We (and many others, including the World Health Organization) believe that physical health – eating well, moving regularly, resting, recovering and sleeping deeply, even when we’re busy – is also a key part of wellbeing so we have added this measure to our study and with Dr Seligman’s permission we refer to this model as “PERMAH” – adding the H for health.

Much like we attempt to describe the construct of weather by elements such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, and barometric pressure, the PERMAH elements attempt to explain wellbeing in a similar way (Seligman, 2018). The factors were included in the model by Dr. Seligman because each factor independently leads to wellbeing, can be pursued for its own intrinsic value and not as a means to an end, and can be defined and measured independently of all others (Seligman 2011).

Dr. Peggy Kern, one of The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey Tool co-creators, and her colleagues (Butler & Kern, 2016) developed The PERMA Profiler to measure each of the five factors of PERMA (three items per factors, 15 items total) in addition to physical health, negative emotions, loneliness, and happiness. The Profiler has been translated into Turkish (Ayşe, 2018), Japanese (Watanabe et al., 2018), Greek (Pezirkianidis et al., 2019), Mandarin (Kern et al., 2018; Lai et al., 2018), and German (Wammerl et al., 2019) and been used in a range of research applications, including comparing population levels of wellbeing across countries (Iasiello et al., 2017; Khaw & Kern, 2015) and measuring the wellbeing of staff (Kern et al., 2014; Lovett & Lovett, 2016).

Much empirical research has been conducted to date on Dr. Seligman’s wellbeing building blocks (Donaldson, 2019; Donaldson, Lee & Donaldson, 2019; Heshmati et al., 2020; Kern, Waters, Adler, & White, 2014; Watanabe et al., 2018), often using the PERMA Profiler. Some studies have found that rather than comprising five or six distinct building blocks of wellbeing, the PERMA Profiler surfaces a three-factor structure comprised of Positive emotion, Relationships-Meaning, and Accomplishment-Engagement (Khaw & Kern, 2015) or only two factors (Umucu et al., 2019; Ryan et al., 2019). And Goodman et al. (2018) found that the PERMA building blocks were strongly associated with subjective wellbeing (SWB), and may even be synonymous and thus redundant as a wellbeing measure.

We have not chosen the PERMA wellbeing theory because we believe it has been conclusively proven as the roadmap to wellbeing; after all, good science is never proven but is an evolving process of ongoing learning and refinement. Rather, we have chosen it because we’ve found that Dr. Seligman’s assertion that the PERMA framework provides a useful, easy way for people to understand, measure, and take action about their wellbeing using evidence-based research and tools holds true. This finding was recently supported in a meta-analysis of positive psychology interventions in workplaces (Donaldson, Lee & Donaldson, 2019) that revealed PERMA-focused wellbeing interventions, because of their multidimensional approach to wellbeing, had a positive effect on work outcomes and wellbeing.

Psychometrically valid.
Reliability continually tested.

The measurement of psychological states can be challenging, especially as you seek to find a tool that is right for what you want to measure, while considering both your population and context. Questions such as “Does this measurement tool measure what it is designed to measure?” are common questions when exploring the measurement of psychological states. In our experience, sound and reliable research of our psychological states adopts ongoing, reflective practices to measure validity and reliability to address such questions, giving confidence to their user – and this is our commitment.

The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey was originally based on the PERMA Profiler survey items. However, as organizations asked us to gather measures at a team and organizational level, we worked with Dr Kern to create additional items to gauge these factors. In addition, we have partnered with other leading researchers including Dr. Richard Ryan to add validated measures on self-determination theory.

We test the psychometric validity of The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey Tool on a regular basis. The latest results from July 2021 show that scale reliability and internal consistency of individual factors are good (alpha>0.8 for all six factors, with over 3,000 respondents across different surveys). The survey shows great consistency with an alpha of 0.97.

Permah Factor Cronbach’s ALpha N
PERMAH (Combined) 0.97 3051
Positive Emotions 0.87 3051
Engagement 0.88 3051
Relationships 0.83 3051
Meaning 0.83 5641
Accomplishment 0.85 5641
0.82 4568

Consistency Over Time

Wellbeing is an ongoing journey, not a one-time destination, and as such, we look to the consistency of responses and relationships within the data over time. Therefore, the reliability of The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey Tool is amplified when it is used to map wellbeing over time, rather than a single time point.

External events such as the COVID-19 pandemic or large institutional issues may cause data to look different, and we are able to take these events into consideration when assessing the data. This is why many of our clients have welcomed mapping states of wellbeing over time, as valuable insights and recommendations can be made that would otherwise remain unsurfaced. This includes the surprising truth about wellbeing whereby we see wellbeing comprising both thriving and struggle, and insights into the amplifiers of wellbeing (ability, motivation, and psychological safety).

Consistency Across Populations

In addition to the data collected via The PERMAH Wellbeing Survey, we also invest periodically in gathering randomized nationally representative survey data in Australia, Canada, the United States, and a growing list of other countries to understand population-level patterns. This data is published in freely available reports and has been added as population norms in the survey for comparisons. This wealth of data allows us to further validate our measures and provide representative population norms within the survey.

Our Commitment to Continued Research

Whilst the landscape of research is dynamic and ever-changing, with new insights constantly emerging, our tool continues to carefully and thoughtfully consider the fundamental building blocks upon which it is evidenced-based – including the generation of questions, theoretical connections, validity, and reliability – and is co-created with experts in the field.