Accountability: construct definition and measurement of a virtue vital to flourishing

Charlotte V.O. Witvliet*, Sung Joon Jang, Byron Johnson, C. Stephen Evans, Jack Berry, Joseph Leman, Robert Roberts, John Peteet, Andrew B. Torrance, Ashley Hayden

*Corresponding author for this work

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Embracing accountability to others for one’s responsibilities within relationships is important for flourishing, yet underexamined. An interdisciplinary team defined the construct of accountability and developed an 11-item single-factor Accountability Scale. In national samples with US census demographic representation (total N = 1257), we conducted psychometric analyses using methods from classical test theory (exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses) and item response theory. The Accountability Scale demonstrated internal consistency, construct validity, test-retest reliability, and incremental validity. Accountability correlated positively with relational variables (agreeableness, empathy) responsibility-oriented variables (conscientiousness, self-regulation), virtues (gratitude, forgiveness, limitations-owning humility), relational repair, perceived meaning presence, and flourishing, inversely with symptoms (personality disorders, temper, anxiety, depression), and weakly with searching for meaning and social desirability. Accountability scores superseded demographic variables, conscientiousness, and agreeableness to predict relational repair, perceived presence of meaning in life, and flourishing. We offer the accountability construct and scale to advance human flourishing research and applied work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Positive Psychology
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2022


  • Accountability
  • Character
  • Empathy
  • Flourishing
  • Meaning in life
  • Psychometrics
  • Scale development
  • Self-regulation
  • Virtue


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  • Accountability Scale Development

    Witvliet, C. (Creator), Jang, S. J. (Creator), Johnson, B. (Creator), Evans, C. (Creator), Peteet, J. (Creator), Torrance, A. B. (Creator), Roberts, R. (Creator), Leman, J. (Creator), Berry, J. (Creator), Hayden, A. (Creator) & Framework, O. S. (Contributor), Open Science Framework, 2022


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