Life Psychology, theoretical foundation (Danish)

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Tilværelsespsykologien handler om den fundamentale opgave alle mennesker uanset baggrund og mulighedsbetingelser står over for: at oprette, opretholde og udvikle egen og fælles tilværelse.

Tilværelsespsykologien forsøger at få de store linjer til at hænge sammen: Dels det praktiske engagement i at forstå. Det vil sige at håndtere og hjælpe andre med at håndtere de grundlæggende tilværelsesopgaver med henblik på at kunne etablere, vedligeholde og udvikle en god nok tilværelse i dagliglivet og i de store afgørende øjeblikke. Dels at forbinde denne praktiske forståelse med den teoretiske interesse i at kunne forklare de grundlæggende psykologiske sammenhænge, der danner grundlag for den gode nok tilværelse, ud fra teoretisk grundforskning og ud fra empiriske kendsgerninger og eksperimentelle fund. Tilværelsespsykologi er således en teori, der opbygger et 'mindset' og et 'skillset' om det væsentlige i tilværelsen – psykologisk set.

Bogens første del giver en introduktion til tilværelsespsykologi. Anden del er praksisorienteret og viser, hvordan tilværelsespsykologiske samtaler og øvelsesforløb kan udvikle og danne tilværelseskompetencer. Bogens tredje del giver en teoretisk og empirisk baggrund for tilværelseskompetencerne og forbinder disse med centrale teorier indenfor psykologien. Fjerde del diskuterer den tilværelsespsykologiske tilgang til psykiske forstyrrelser, diagnoser og stigmatisering.

Bertelsen, P. (2013): Tilværelsespsykologi. Et godt nok greb om tilværelsen. Frydenlund, København (447 sider)

Life Psychology, theoretical foundation (English)

Bertelsen, P. (Accepted for 2020): A taxonomical model of general human and generic life skills. Theory & Psychology (Vol **, DOI **)

Abstract. The aim of this article is to deal with the lack of concreteness in current theories about life projects and solution-focused activities regarding the capabilities and life skills by which such prospective life activities may be performed. A taxonomical model of domain and level-specific generic and general human life task/life skill units will be outlined. This model is rooted in social and psychological domains given by prototypical theories in the field, and the article discusses how such a model, if implemented as an intervention tool in education, mentoring and counseling, may help avoid the pitfalls of ontological reductionism, system colonization and essentialism.

Life Psychology in High School - 1 - (English)


Bertelsen, P., Ozer, S., Faber, P. , Jacobsen, A.S., Lund-Laursen, T (2019): High school student's grip on life and education. High-school students' self-administered work with a life mastering method. Nordic Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/19012276.2019.1690557

Abstract. The school system increasingly focuses on the students’ grip on life challenges in general. In this article, a life-psychological approach to the development of a general grip on life is tested. The method can be implemented in schools, such as public schools, in high school, as well as in youth education programs. Such implementations can often be organizationally and financially costly, which is why the applicability of the method is tested as a cost-neutral, self-administered method among high school students. The results show that the life-psychological method and its tools can be successfully implemented in a self-administered way regarding development of a good grip on life and its challenges.

Life Psychology in High School - 2 - (English)

Bertelsen, P. & Ozer, S. (accepted for 2020): Grip on life as a possible antecedent for self-control beliefs interacts with well-being and perceived stress. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology (**) (DOI **). 

Self-control has been established as an important factor in various domains of life, significant for general well-being; thus, a self-induced lack of self-control may prove detrimental for well-being. Self-induced lack of self-control may stem from implicit beliefs about self-control as a limited resource, but research has shown this belief to be unwarranted. Furthermore, it has been shown that a belief about self-control resources as unlimited has a positive effect on many domains in life and ultimately on well-being. This study addresses the question of antecedent beliefs about self-control resources and proposes personal Grip on Life, defined as skill-based goal setting and goal approaches, as a possible antecedent. This points to development of interventions altering a limited belief to an unlimited belief based on empowerment of one’s Grip on Life.

Life Psychology in primary School (Danish)


Skibsted, E. & Bertelsen, P. (2016): Fra relationskompetencer til tilværelseskompetencer – et pilotprojekt. I: Skibsted, E. & Matthiesen, N. (red.): Relationskompetencer i læreruddannelse og skole. Frederikshavn. Dafolo.

Skibsted, E. (2019) Elevens alsidige udvikling i skolen – en tilværelsespsykologisk intervention. Pædagogisk Psykologisk Tidsskrift, 5/6, 48-70


This article address the concept of the students’ development of cross-curricular competencies as it appears in the purpose of the Nordic public schools. The hypothesis is that Life Psychology may contribute to operationalize this concept in a theoretical and empirical way.

The study is conducted as an intervention study based on qualitative data and investigates whether and how a specific intervention can develop skills that facilitate the students’ development of crosscurricular competencies.

The results show that targeted education in Life Psychology can be one way to facilitate the development of these competencies, and moreover a metacognitive development has taken place.


Life Psychology in Primary School (English)

Skibsted, E. (2020): A Lifeworld Approach to the Pupils’ General Development in School. Nordic Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/19012276.2019.1698315

The pupils’ general development is a core value in the legal framework and purpose of the Nordic schools. In spite of various attempts to specify the concept both theoretically and pedagogically, it is still considered an abstract and broad concept that lacks content and relation to the pupils’ lifeworlds. The present article demonstrates that it is possible to identify a number of lifeworld challenges and to describe and operationalise these using Life Psychology. This approach forms the theoretical basis for the formation of a categorial pedagogy aimed at the pupils’ general development which builds on concrete aspects of the pupils’ lifeworlds on the one hand and, on the other hand, is related to various generic human life tasks and skills that the pupils must achieve to comprehend and manage the world and themselves. Thus, the present article presents a unique list of examples of age-appropriate lifeworld challenges for exemplary use in secondary school aiming at the pupils’ general development and education.    

Life Psychology in mentoring (English)

Bertelsen, P. (2018): Mentoring in Anti-radicalisation. LGT: A Systematic Assessment, Intervention and Supervision Tool in Mentoring. In: Overland, G, Andersen, A., Førde, K. E., Grødum, K. and J. Salomonsen (eds.): Violent Extremism in the 21st Century. International Perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle 

This book chapter explains how the Life Psychological tools can be used in mentoring. Even if the case is mentoring in antiradicalization the chapter explains how the tools can be used in general.

Abstract: There is an increasing awareness of and use of mentoring in the anti-radicalisation and de-radicalisation process. In Denmark, it is central to the so-called Aarhus Model as well as to the national Danish intervention strategy. It is well known that successful mentoring is based on the composition of a team of carefully selected mentors from which it is possible to pair a mentee with a mentor in the best possible match. This chapter offers a model for mentoring in the radicalisation process and extremism with several functions. It can both serve as a guiding model for and concrete tool in the mentoring process, as an assessment tool (supervision, initiating the process) and as a research model (based on operationalised variables) directed at documenting the effect of mentoring.

Life skill development of teenagers through spare-time jobs (English)

Rune V. Lesner & Anna Piil Damm & Preben Bertelsen & Mads Uffe Pedersen, 2018. "Life Skills Development of Teenagers through Spare-Time Jobs," Economics Working Papers 2018-09, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.

Abstract. We set up an on-the-job learning model to explain how spare-time on-the-job training affects life skills formation of adolescents. We obtain causal estimates by exploiting variation between employed twins and estimation of a value-added model using full population Danish administrative data. We find that spare-time work experience has no effect on school absenteeism, reduces crime, increases school grades and the speed of enrollment into upper secondary education. We interpret our findings as evidence that the positive effect from on-the-job learning in spare-time jobs on life skill formation more than outweigh the potential negative consumption and time-use externalities of spare-time work.

Life Skill Scale (English) / skalaen både på dansk og engelsk

Ozer, S. & Bertelsen, P., (2020): Developing and Validating a Short Scale Assessing Generic Life Skills  (Accepteret/In press) I : Psychological Studies    


Life psychology is an integrative framework theory centered on how individuals employ their generic life skills in handling everyday life tasks and reaching life goals. Indeed, the theory relates to the accelerating complexity of contemporary globalized societies and how we need generic life skills in order to successfully navigate through a fluid and dynamic context. Within the theory of life psychology, ten life skills have been identified and these are categorized into 1) participation in life, 2) realistic attunement, and 3) perspective taking. The present paper describes the development and validation of a new measure tapping into these three categories as well as an overall aggregated dimension of life skills. Our analyses indicate that the scale holds a solid factor structure. Furthermore, convergent validity was established through the related concepts of self-determination and self-efficacy, and predictive validity was examined in relation to life satisfaction. Our scale holds great implications in regard to developing the empirical foundation for research in the field of life psychology.