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Judging Beliefs based on the Quality of Life of the Believers: An Introduction to Psychological Advantageousness (PA) and the Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII)

By Red the Philosopher


Which belief is better – “the glass is half-empty” or “the glass is half-full?” Some might argue this is a question about preference and has no objective answer. This paper introduces two new constructs: (1) Psychological Advantageousness (PA) and (2) Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII) which provide a basis of intersubjectively (as a proxy for objectivity) assessing beliefs. The Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure refers to the internal world of the individual consisting of affective, cognitive, and experiential sequela such as beliefs, tendencies, and moods. Psychological Advantageousness refers to the differential impact of these sequela on an individual’s quality of life. Quality of life is partitioned using the 8 Dimensions of Wellness model. By studying the relationship between components of the MEII and QOL outcomes, we have an intersubjective basis for saying which belief(s) are better. Illustrative examples are included along with implications on education, therapy, motivation, and self-help literatures.

Keywords: psychological advantageousness, quality of life, mental and emotional intrapsychic infrastructure, Stroop test, executive functioning






“Psychology” etymologically refers to the “study of the soul.” In the current paper, “psychological” refers to “of or relating to the study of the soul.” “Soul” refers to the animating and perceiving life force within humans – whether other animals have souls is beyond the scope of this paper. This paper builds on the concept of rather than a human having a spiritual experience, people are souls wrapped in flesh having human experiences. Arguably, these two conceptualizations can coincide. “Soul” is used interchangeably with “individual” throughout this paper. Further inquiry into the nature of souls is outside the scope of this paper. The premise for the constructs presented in this paper is that souls exist. One way to study souls is through their actions, experiences, and words. These indicators stem from the thoughts and feelings experienced, expressed, and perceived by the individual.

Psychological Advantageousness (PA)

Psychological Advantageousness (PA) refers to the value of an individual’s Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII) or its components (belief(s), affect(s), cognition(s), disposition(s), organizational affiliation(s), modus operandi(s), or schema(s)) determined by the resultant impact on the individual’s Quality of Life (QOL). Moving forward, the term “belief” will be used representatively for the various components of the MEII. For any given belief, what is the quality of life of the believers?  Psychological advantageousness is best illustrated using a spectrum ranging from low to high, suggesting that every soul’s MEII and its individual components confer differential impacts on QOL. Psychological advantageousness is distinct from psychological advantage because the former identifies how much of the latter is present.

Advantage, Advantageous, and Advantageousness

“Advantage” refers to a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position (Google, n.d.). “Advantageous” refers to involving or creating favorable circumstances that increase the chances of success or effectiveness; beneficial (Google, n.d.). According to Encyclopedia Brittanica (2024), The suffix “-ness” refers to "state, condition, quality" and is used with an adjective to say something about the state, condition, or quality of being that adjective. In other words, adding the suffix “ness” to an adjective introduces contemplation of the question “How?” For example, one might say that a bear has an advantage over a human when it comes to enduring cold temperatures due to the bear having a thick fur coat. One could then say that thick fur coat is advantageous for the bear or for the human who skins the bear and takes the coat. One could also ask how advantageous is the coat really? This last question is responded to by looking at the advantageousness of the coat – we already concede that there is an advantage but now let us look closer to see to what extent and in what ways.

In keeping with the positive psychology movement, the ponderance of advantageousness is necessary to help gain clarity on the “green flags” – so people can know why the things that work work and where the limitations are. By introducing the concept of advantageousness, researchers have nomological support for investigating more closely the mechanisms of mental health. This stands in contrast to a history within psychology of using a deficit model (Dinishak, 2016). One claim against the deficit model is that as humans become more adept at identifying and naming problems, the identification and naming of problems increases. The DSM V-TR stands as proof of how acutely aware humans are at identifying mental illness, syndromes, and symptoms. The push by positive psychology to use a two-continua model – to see mental health and mental illness as two separate spectrums (Westerhoff & Keyes, 2010) – illustrates the place in the literature where assessments of advantageousness counterbalance the long list of ways that people are ill. Now, researchers have an opportunity to even the scales and know as much about determinants and signifiers of mental health as they do of mental illness.

Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII)

The Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII) refers to the scaffolding and algorithm of the internal world of the individual, consisting of affect, cognitions, images, memories, meanings, etc. Thoughts and feelings combine to form beliefs. There are different types of beliefs, such as core and periphery. The main difference between the types are how closely the individual holds onto them and how strongly convicted the individual is in defense of them. Core beliefs are appropriately named because people take attacks on these beliefs as personal attacks, arousing the same neurophysiological pathways as if one were physically attacked.

Kozlowska, et. al (2015) studied the physiological changes caused by perceived threats and characterized this sequence as the “defense cascade.” They highlighted the role of the limbic system in perceiving a threat and mounting a response. Typical responses include fighting, flighting, and freezing. Their work detailed the specific pathways by which the forebrain communicates through various brain areas to the spinal cord and then to the viscera, muscles, and skin. Evidence of the connection between beliefs and the limbic system can be found in Sathyanarayana  et al. (2009). Between these two articles, literature supports the notion that an individual’s beliefs being attacked counts as an arousing experience which can elicit the same defense cascade as someone being attacked physically. Cheng, et. al. (2022) supported the position that physical pain and social pain activate the same brain areas, such as the prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and insula. Flannelly, et. al. (2007) described the evolutionary development of the brain systems and partially explained why the brain uses similar systems for both threat assessment – which implies beliefs about the nature of threats – and psychiatric symptoms which include physiological arousal and affective responses. These researchers also point to the limbic system in facilitating the relationship between the perceived threat and the body’s self-defense activation, i.e. the defense cascade.

Using the image of a house to illustrate the MEII, core beliefs are the cornerstones. Periphery beliefs, on the other hand, are more easily let go. The challenge of periphery beliefs may not elicit the same defensiveness or self-preservation. For example, the belief that god exists may be a core belief – one for which an individual might defend wholeheartedly. In contrast, the belief that the Lakers will win the NBA Championship game may be less defensible.

This paper will lead readers through a series of questions and answers, culminating in the suggestion that psychological advantageousness needs to be studied.

Belief Power

Let us begin. First, do beliefs have power? Yes. According to Halligan & Mansel, (2006) beliefs have the power to impact illness, treatment, and recovery. This power is named as psychosocial influence. Consider the example of a child who is taught to wash their hands after using the restroom compared to the child who is not. The child who adopts the belief may develop a protective conviction or automated discipline to impulsively wash his hands after using the restroom. Belief sparks, drives, and sustains behavior. Finnis, et. al. (2010) described the utility of placebo effects in research and clinical settings and defined them as “genuine psychobiological events.” Placebos refer to false treatments (such as a sugar pill) that the patient perceives to be beneficial yet has no inert medicinal substance. Placebo effects refer to the fact that such false treatments yield outcomes in the individual believing the treatment. Pollo, et. al., (2001) reported a group of post-operation patients receiving intravenous saline as a placebo who were told it was a potent painkiller requested 33% less use of the analgesic treatment.

Interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), emphasize the cognitive triangle – a model suggesting thoughts influence behavior, mediated by affect (Vallejo, 2022). Additionally, many motivational speakers such as Dr. Eric Thomas, Les Brown, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, and Inky Johnson, to name a few, have emphasized the role of thinking in producing better life outcomes. Their recommendations overlap with the CBT literature in that they challenge individuals’ thought patterns and self-belief, attesting to the power belief has on actions and results. Self-help books such as, As a Man Thinketh (Allen, 2017), The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living (Peale, 2018), and The Secret (Byrne, 2018), further speak to the power of beliefs on results. Even the layman’s nomenclature includes a notion of “psyching yourself out” that points to the role that thoughts and beliefs can have in undermining one’s performance. If thoughts and beliefs can be used in that way, what about “psyching yourself in”?

The Health Belief Model describes the impact of beliefs on health outcomes (Glanz, 2015). According to Glanz, people engage in health behaviors based on their perception of their individual risk, the costs and benefits, the availability of resources, and perceived barriers that pale in comparison to perceived benefits. According to Glanz, among individuals who believed that they were more susceptible to tuberculosis and that there were benefits from early detection, 82 percent had at least one voluntary chest X-ray. In contrast, only 21 percent of those who perceived lower personal susceptibility and benefits obtained X-rays. Put simply, beliefs impact actions and outcomes.

Wielding Belief Power

Beliefs are powerful. How can that power be wielded? How can one determine the differential power of individual beliefs, belief clusters, thoughts, emotions, and affective-cognitive patterns? Beliefs, thoughts, and emotions are the substance of the Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure – an individual’s internal world. Psychological Advantageousness answers these questions by assessing the MEII based on the quality of life of the individual operating using the MEII. Put differently, individual thoughts, emotions, beliefs, schemas, memories, attitudes, dispositions, etc. are components of the MEII which can be assessed one-by-one to determine their respective impact on QOL. In CBT, this is completed by identifying negative core beliefs, such as “I am worthless,” and analyzing what that belief produces when put into the cognitive triangle. In the course of clinical treatment, one might reveal this thought leads to feelings of sadness and low self-esteem, which leads to allowing oneself to be mistreated by others and feeling like one deserves such treatment. This causes a feedback loop and perpetuates the belief that one is worthless. Clinicians work with clients to challenge these negative core beliefs and replace them with positive core beliefs (Self-Help Toons, 2021). Longmore and Worrell (2007) questioned the utility of this strategy but validate it as common practice within the CBT framework. Persons, Marker, and Bailey (2023) attested to CBT’s protocol to address cognitive distortions, which include irrational negative beliefs about oneself or one’s abilities, to alleviate affective symptoms.

If what an individual thinks, feels, and believes impacts their actions and outcomes, then it can be said that an individual’s MEII impacts their reality or lived experience. Thus, the importance of the construction of the MEII is revealed. To wield the power of the MEII, one must first assess the baseline performance of the MEII by assessing their Quality of Life (QOL) resulting from their current beliefs then choose better – higher QOL-outcome yielding – beliefs.

Quality of Life

According to Karimi & Brazier (2016), Quality of Life (QOL) has been defined a multitude of ways in the literature. These authors described the need for the term as arising with the improvement of medical technology which led to people living longer lives. New questions about the quantity of years a person lives and the quality of their life during those years arose. As mortality decreased, morbidity increased because ailments that would have killed someone hundreds of years prior, were now able to be treated. Karimi and Brazier clearly acknowledged the various definitions of quality of life stemming from the broadness of the term and the various focal points definers selected in their respective conceptualizations. They cited definitions such as “a conscious cognitive judgment of satisfaction with one’s life,” (Rejeski, et al., 2001) as well as “an individuals’ perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns” (Kuyken, et al., 1995). Leaning more on objective markers, other researchers cited the definition of QOL as, “overall general well-being that comprises objective descriptors and subjective evaluations of physical, material, social, and emotional well-being together with the extent of personal development and purposeful activity, all weighted by a personal set of values” (Felce, et al., 1995).

Ferrans (1990) identified and discussed five categories across which definitions of QOL could be assessed, to include normal life, happiness/satisfaction, achievement of personal goals, social utility, and natural capacity. Ferrans noted that these categories were nonexhaustive, pointing to the possibility that others are considerable.

For current purposes, QOL refers to “individuals' perceptions of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns” (World Health Organization, 2012). Stoewen’s (2017) outline of the 8 dimensions of wellness - physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental – has been used in clinical settings and can be considered as a closer look at QOL. WHO’s (2012) definition focuses on the individual’s perception and Stoewen identifies the perceived domains of an individual’s life. Within each domain, there are innumerable measures that can be employed, attesting to the breadth of QOL. Assessments of depression, anxiety, heart rate variability, brain function, kidney function, cholesterol levels, job satisfaction, and social support, to name a few, are considerable candidates.

Stroop Test

One domain of particular interest is the neuropsychological functioning subdomain that conceptually seems to overlap the physical and intellectual wellness domains. Stroop (1935) developed a test in which printed words were presented in an ink color other than the word itself, such as the word “red” printed in blue ink. He tasked participants to read the color of the word rather than the word itself, and timed how long it took them to successfully complete the task, in comparison to simply reading the words in black ink. As one might imagine, reading time slowed when the word and color contrasted. The purpose of the experiment was to test people’s abilities to inhibit old responses and replace them with new ones. Put simply, his study tested whether an “old dog can learn new tricks.” He found out that with practice, people could become better at inhibiting their previously learned tendency to read words as they are written and to replace it with saying the color of the text. This inhibitive and substitutive ability is one of the executive functions that humans equip. The Stroop test has been adapted as an executive functioning measure.

Stroop Test, Executive Functioning, and QOL

Heerema (2023) described the Stroop Test as a measure of executive functioning and screener for Early Alzheimer’s. Executive functioning refers to an individual’s planning, reasoning, decision-making, inhibition, emotional control, working memory, and self-monitoring abilities (Heerema, 2023). The impairment of these functions, as Heerema describes, can indicate early signs of cognitive impairment leading to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Dominguez Cardoso, et. al., (2022) identified the Stroop Test as a diagnostic tool as well, but for Minimal hepatic encephalopathy in Mexican patients with cirrhosis. Clinch et. al., (2023) described the Stroop test as a measure of attention and conflict resolution, as well as a diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. They created an analogue version of the Stroop Test for rodents to identify specific brain areas involved in performance of the task. They found that the Stroop Test elicits activation of the prefrontal, hippocampal, and retrosplenial cortex regions of the rodent brains. They also found that performance on the Stroop-analogue was associated with reduced dorsomedial striatum activation. Based on these findings, the Stroop Test is supported as a measure of neuropsychological functioning. Grech et. al., (2019) reported a positive relationship between core executive function and increased overall Quality of Life specifically for participants endorsing high levels of religious coping, as well as those endorsing high denial coping. They also reported that total executive functioning was related to better mental health and overall QOL. Orgondnik, et al. (2023) also used the Stroop task as a measure of executive functioning and found that inhibitor control, one aspect of executive functioning, was associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness. Since the Stroop Test is a measure of executive functioning and increased executive functioning is associated with increased QOL, this study supports the use of the Stroop Test as a QOL measure and predictor. Further studies are needed to test the reliability of these findings.

Robot Example

Let us consider the idea of a robot – a computerized machine that can resemble human action and complete tasks. The robot may be able to jump, run, pick up things, smash things, etc. The robot is only able to do these things pending it is programmed to do them, save for exceptional cases in which artificial intelligence and machine learning empower machines to learn new things that were not programmed at their origin. The programming of the robot essentially involves using programming language such as Java, Python, etc. These languages use sequences of symbols like any other language but they communicate to machines. These languages are used to develop algorithms for how the robot should process information it receives and how it should respond.

Suppose a computer scientist (CS A) programs a robot (Robot A) to jump by typing a sequence of symbols into the robot’s server. Depending on the skill of the computer scientist and their appropriate use of any select programming language, the robot will gain the function of jumping because of the coding. Suppose the robot is placed in a robot battle zone where it faces an opponent robot (Robot B) that has blades that hover approximately two inches of the ground. In that setting, one might argue that being able to jump might be advantageous for Robot A because it would be able to jump over the blades of Robot B. This highlights the importance of the computer scientist being able to accurately code because for the Robot, the potential outcomes of its code can be life or death. Suppose we have a second computer scientist (CS B) that works with the first (CS A). Suppose CS B knows how to not only make Robot A jump, but knows how to make him jump specifically 3 feet off the ground. When CS A programmed Robot A to jump, Robot A only jumped 1 foot off the ground. One could then ask the question – which is more advantageous – being able to jump 1 foot off the ground or 3 feet off the ground. The height of the jump is the external counterpart to the interior coding of the robot; therefore, one can ask, which is more advantageous – the coding that produces the ability to jump 1 foot off the ground, or the coding that produces the ability to jump 3 feet off the ground.

Without going too far into the example, let us consider that the height of the jump may impact the time it takes for the robot to return to the ground, which may have some differential effect on it’s vulnerability to a second attack from Robot B. Also, consider how much more energy jumping higher might use, whether the Robot would have to change its legs, or the materials used to construct it, so that it could safely land from a higher height. Residual changes will likely be needed to compensate for the increased height but for the sake of this example, let us not digress.

The main point is that the coding inside the robot will effect its performance. The notion of psychological advantageousness refers to the value of the coding in the robot for its “quality of life” which in this case, may be operationalized as its ability to survive the battle against an opponent robot. The question of which code is better can be answered by putting both codes (for 1 foot and 3 foot jumps) side-by-side- to compare their outcomes – which is more likely to lead to Robot A’s survival.

Now let us replace the robot with a human. The parallel drawn here is that for the robot, their coding rests in some server that the computer scientists can edit. For humans, their mental and emotional intrapsychic infrastructure is comparable to the server for the robot. That is the place where humans keep and edify their affective, cognitive, and spiritual “coding” or information. The image of the server with all of the coding looks similar to a page in a book – a bunch of words and symbols organized in a particular way that from a distance, aesthetically resembles a tapestry of sorts. The gestalt code and its component parts are editable and yield results for the robot. In the same way, the beliefs, habits, tendencies, schemas, attitudes, biases, moods, affects, drives, and urges of humans, to name a few components of the MEII, can be looked at individually and as one gestalt MEII. Both the gestalt and its component parts yield quality of life outcomes. Whatever is going on internally for the person, will impact the quality of their life. The difference between the robot and the person is that the person can serve as its own computer scientist and programmer. This research is designed to empower persons with data reports on the outcomes typically associated with particular beliefs or “coding.” Suppose there were statistics published about the benefits and limitations qualitatively and quantitatively of the robots using the 1 foot jump code and the 3 foot jump code. This would empower computer scientists to make informed decisions about which code to use. Similarly, once we identify more clearly the relationship between the MEII (both gestalt and its individual components) and QOL outcomes, persons/souls can be empowered to make informed decisions about which habits, beliefs, and attitudes to adopt. One can ascertain the psychological advantageousness of beliefs/codes such as “God exists” compared to “God does not exist.”  


Souls amass beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, emotions, thoughts, and patterned combinations of these over time. This process forms the Mental and Emotional Intrapsychic Infrastructure (MEII) that soul operates with. The MEII impacts the outcomes the soul receives. ?The MEII’s components have differential influence on the outcomes each soul manifests and experiences. ??? Through processes and practices of maturation, introspection, therapy, and spirituality, a soul may become aware of their MEII and its components. Once aware, the soul can then analyze the Psychological Advantageousness (PA) of each component – how much of an advantage is conferred by them? The soul can measure PA by looking at their Quality of Life (QOL). QOL is measurable across 8 Dimensions of Wellness (Stoewen, 2017) and within each domain, there are innumerable candidate tools. One such tool is the Stroop Test which is a neuropsychological assessment of executive functioning. Executive functioning has been found to be positively associated with Quality of Life (Stern, et. al, 2016; Cantisano, et al. (2021); ). Intuitively, the abilities to plan, execute, inhibit, and initiate action are reasonably instrumental in the soul’s ability to manipulate their environment and manifest reality, such as planning and executing tasks of daily living.

Souls can assess the relationship between their MEII (in total and its individual components) and QOL. For example, someone may assess their relationship between a core belief and their marriage satisfaction by looking at how the core belief, “men should only work outside the house,” impacts its believers generally and themselves in particular. If there were a publication of the psychological advantageousness of beliefs, people such as the husband in this example could become more intentional about adopting beliefs.

The MEII has a reflexive characteristic in that an individual’s core beliefs may influence themselves and other core and periphery beliefs. Likewise, all other components of the MEII such as dispositions, moods, and organizational affiliations, that coagulate into the MEII influence the MEII as a whole as well as the individual components. These components are arranged in such a way that individuals develop biases, triggers, expectations, that become part of the MEII. Both the MEII as a whole and its individual components are analyzable for their relationship with QOL outcomes. PA is captured by this process of holding components of the MEII or the MEII in its totality side-by-side with the QOL of the individual to see relationships between the two. The component selected is variable, as are the domain of QOL and the instrument(s) used to measure it. Assessment of PA is not about a single relationship between any particular MEII component and QOL domain; rather, it is the overarching protocol to juxtapose the MEII and QOL, using the latter as a gauge for the former.

Put this way, psychological advantageousness is also revealed as a potential metric representing general trends in believers’ QOL – it is a description of the belief’s average impact apart from the believer, so believers know whether to subscribe to believing it. If the husband in this example sees that out of all men believing “men should only work outside the house,” only 30% report high marriage satisfaction, and out of all men believing “men should work both inside and outside the house”, 85% report high marriage satisfaction, then the husband can make an informed decision about which belief to add to his MEII. This example highlights the utility of the construct of PA – it is a metric that can be attached to beliefs, schemas, organizational affiliations, alma maters, etc. to inform neutral souls about the effects these beliefs, etc. tend to have on their subscribers.

By adding this construct into science, we remove the insulation of beliefs as being above reproach and can objectively at best, and intersubjectively at least, evaluate, analyze, and edify them, and our own MEIIs. If you knew the average believer in god was happier, would you reconsider maintaining atheistic core beliefs? If you had a resource to reference annually that described the top 100 beliefs based on QOL outcomes of the believers, would you see value in that? The Self-Help, clinical psychology, motivation, education, and therapy literature stand to improve vastly by incorporating these constructs because it empowers one to analyze information in a novel way.  


Data Availability Statement: This research did not analyze or generate any datasets because our work proceeds within a theoretical approach.










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Statements and Declarations


The author declares that no funds, grants, or other support were received during the preparation of this manuscript.

Competing Interests

The author has no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

Author Contributions

The author completed this manuscript independently.

Ethics Approval

This study did not involve human or animal subjects.



I thank God, my family, and my colleagues.


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