Current Primals Project Research

In-house at the Primals Project, one of the topics we are currently exploring is the plasticity of primals. For example, Dr. Nick Kerry is leading investigations into (a) if demographic backgrounds influence primals (e.g., do rich people see the world as more abundant?), (b) the impact of very extreme life experiences on primals (incarceration for negligent homicide after accidentally killing a loved one; getting cancer), and (c) if new interventions can influence primals to improve wellbeing. 

Much of our work is in partnership with others. For example, Dr. Jer Clifton is working with Dr. Richard Lerner’s team at Tufts on primals in students, Dr. Alia Crum at Stanford on the relationship between primals and personality, Dr. David Yaden at Johns Hopkins on how psilocybin impacts primals, and even robotics expert Dr. Bilge Mutlu at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on giving different primal world beliefs to robots to simulate human personality characteristics. 

2021 Primals Research Awardees
2022 Primals Research Student Awardees

Primals Inventories Administration Instructions

Researchers interested in using our scale do not need permission. That said, we would love to hear about what you are exploring and may be able to help in some way, so please feel free to contact us! All versions of the Primals Inventory (PI-99, PI-18, and PI-6) along with survey administration, and scoring instructions are available in this PDF. Further information can be found on pages 272-281 of Clifton and colleagues’ (2019) supplemental document.

Note: The Primals Inventory is “© 2018 by Jeremy D. W. Clifton. All rights reserved.” and Jer has decided to make the Primals Inventory available to everyone for free indefinitely. Don’t try to monetize this resource! You’ll get in trouble.

Translations of the Primals Inventory

Primals Inventory translations have been completed or are underway in several languages including Arabic, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Korean and Spanish. We welcome and support additional translations. The Primals Inventory Translation Guide is a working document with guidelines and advice for anyone undertaking such a project. If you plan to translate the Primals Inventory, please contact us so that we can offer some additional resources.

Foundational Article

Clifton, J. D. W., Baker, J. D., Park, C. L., Yaden, D. B., Clifton, A. B. W., Terni, P., Miller, J. L., Zeng, G., Giorgi S., Schwartz, H. A., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2019). Primal world beliefs. Psychological Assessment, 31(1), 82-99. Free full text PDF available at researchgate.

Select Publications

Clifton, J. D. W. (2023). Measuring primal world beliefs. In W. Ruch, A. B. Baker, L. Tay, & F. Gander (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology assessment (Psychological Assessment – Science and Practice, Vol. 5, pp. 385 – 401). Hogrefe Publishing Group. Free full-text PDF

Ludwig, V. U., Crone, D., Clifton, J. D. W., Rebele, R. W., Schor, J. & Platt, M. L. (2022). Resilience of primal world beliefs to the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Personality. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D. W., & Kerry, N. (2022). Belief in a Dangerous World Does Not Explain Substantial Variance in Political Attitudes, But Other World Beliefs Do. Social Psychological and Personality Science. full text pdf available at researchgate..

Vu, H., Giorgi, S., Clifton, J. D. W., Balasubramanian, N., & Schwartz, H. A. (2022). Modeling Latent Dimensions of Human Beliefs. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media16(1), 1064-1074. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D. W., & Meindl, P. (2021). Parents think -incorrectly- that teaching their children that the world is a bad place is likely best for them. The Journal of Positive Psychology, (17)2, 182-197. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D. W., & Yaden, D. B. (2021). Brief measures of the four highest-order primal world beliefs. Psychological Assessment, 33(12), 1267–1273. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Vazquez, C., Valiente, C., García, F.E. et al. (2021). Post-Traumatic Growth and Stress-Related Responses During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a National Representative Sample: The Role of Positive Core Beliefs About the World and Others. Journal of Happiness Studies, 22, 2915–2935 Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D. W. (2020). Happy in a crummy world: Implications of primal world beliefs for increasing well-being through positive psychology interventions. Journal of Positive Psychology, (15)5, 691-695. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D. W. (2020). Testing if primal world beliefs reflect experiences—At least some experiences identified ad hoc. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1145 full text pdf available at researchgate.

Stahlmann, A. G., Hofmann, J., Ruch, W., Heinz, S., & Clifton, J. D. W. (2020). The higher-order structure of primal world beliefs in German-speaking countries: Adaptation and initial validation of the German Primals Inventory (GPI-66). Personality and Individual Differences, 163, 110054. Free full text pdf available at researchgate.

Clifton, J. D., & Kim, E. S. (2020). Healthy in a crummy world: Implications of primal world beliefs for health psychology. Medical Hypotheses, 135, 109463. full text PDF available here.