The Selection-Optimization-Compensation Questionnaire (SOCQ) is a 48-item self-report scale designed to measure the extent to which people use the principles of selection (elective and loss-based), optimization, and compensation to manage their resources in order to maximize beneficial outcomes and minimize adverse ones. According to the Selection-Optimization-Compensation framework (SOC), opportunities and resources vary over the lifespan, and adaptively navigating these changing conditions involves three components. First, the selection of possible goals is necessary in light of limited resources (e.g., time, energy) at different stages of life. Elective selection involves the use of self-regulatory processes to choose one or several goals from among many possible goals. In contrast, loss-based selection involves adapting to lacking resources that were previously available earlier in life. Second, the optimization of available internal resources (e.g., cognitive control) or external resources (e.g., friends’ advice) is used to best serve one’s chosen goals. Third, compensation is needed when resources are limited or lacking so that one substitutes a different means to achieve the same goal. Each SOCQ item consists of a pair of opposing statements that each correspond to hypothetical individuals called Person A and Person B. Participants indicate for each item which statement best represents them. In all of the following examples, the SOC target is listed first followed by a non-SOC distractor, but the order of conditions is randomized in each item of the actual SOCQ. Twelve items measure elective selection (e.g., Person A: “I concentrate all my energy on a few things” vs. Person B: “I divide my energy among many things”). Twelve items measure loss-based selection (e.g., Person A: “When I can’t do something important the way I did before, I look for a new goal” vs. Person B: “When I can’t do something important the way I did before, I distribute my energy among many things”). Twelve items measure optimization (e.g., Person A: “I make every effort to achieve a given goal” vs. Person B: “I prefer to wait for a while and see if things will work out by themselves”). Twelve items measure compensation (e.g., Person A: “When things don't go as well as they used to, I keep trying other ways of doing it until I can achieve the same result I used to” vs. Person B: “When things don't go as well as they used to, I accept it”). The dependent measures are the number of SOC targets endorsed within each of the four subscales: elective selection, loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation. Additionally, a composite index is computed by summing the four subscales totals.
The Selection-Optimization-Compensation Questionnaire (SOCQ) is a self-report scale that measures the adaptive selection of goals, optimization of resources, and compensation for low resources (Freund & Baltes, 1998). It has been shown to predict adjustment outcomes such as higher life satisfaction, higher positive emotion, and lower levels of loneliness (Freund & Baltes, 1998.) It has been proposed that resilience in the face of life’s unfortunate circumstances requires adaptively responding by aligning one’s goals and resources according to the opportunities and demands of one’s situation. These abilities, as measured by SOCQ, are potential mechanisms of behavior change because adapting one’s goals and strategies to changing circumstances necessarily involves behavioral adjustments. Furthermore, the flexible principles measured by SOCQ have been proposed as potential mechanisms of behavior change (e.g., changing behavior to reduce secondary stroke risk; Ireland & Arthur, 2006).
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Text Citation: Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (1998). Selection, optimization, and compensation as strategies of life management: Correlations with subjective indicators of successful aging. Psychology and Aging, 13(4), 531-543.
Text Citation: Ireland, S. E., & Arthur, H. M. (2006). Integrating self-efficacy and aging theories to promote behavior change and reduce stroke risk. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 38(4), 300-308.
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The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.