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Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in Adolescents


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Materialistic youth seem to be languishing while grateful youth seem to be flourishing. High school students (N=1,035) completed measures of materialism, gratitude, academic functioning, envy, depression, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption. Using structural equation modeling, we found that gratitude, controlling for materialism, uniquely predicts all outcomes considered: higher grade point average, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as well as lower envy and depression. In contrast, materialism, controlling for gratitude, uniquely predicts three of the six outcomes: lower grade point average, as well as higher envy and life satisfaction. Furthermore, when examining the relative strengths of gratitude and materialism as predictors, we found that gratitude is generally a stronger predictor of these six outcomes than is materialism. KeywordsGratitude–Materialism–Well-being–Adolescents–Self-determination theory
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1 23
Journal of Happiness Studies
An Interdisciplinary Forum on
Subjective Well-Being
ISSN 1389-4978
Volume 12
Number 2
J Happiness Stud (2010)
DOI 10.1007/
Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of
Materialism in Adolescents
1 23
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Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism
in Adolescents
Jeffrey J. Froh
Robert A. Emmons
Noel A. Card
Giacomo Bono
Jennifer A. Wilson
Published online: 11 March 2010
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract Materialistic youth seem to be languishing while grateful youth seem to be
flourishing. High school students (N = 1,035) completed measures of materialism, grati-
tude, academic functioning, envy, depression, life satisfaction, social integration, and
absorption. Using structural equation modeling, we found that gratitude, controlling for
materialism, uniquely predicts all outcomes considered: higher grade point average, life
satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as well as lower envy and depression. In
contrast, materialism, controlling for gratitude, uniquely predicts three of the six outcomes:
lower grade point average, as well as higher envy and life satisfaction. Furthermore, when
examining the relative strengths of gratitude and materialism as predictors, we found that
gratitude is generally a stronger predictor of these six outcomes than is materialism.
Keywords Gratitude Materialism Well-being Adolescents
Self-determination theory
We thank Sheldon Karnilow, Patrick Harrigan, William Sefick, James LoFrese, Chris Alexander, and all of
the teachers, parents, and students for their support with data collection. Thanks go to Melissa Ubertini,
Pascual Chen, Stephanie Snyder, and Rebecca Spatz for their assistance with data collection. We are grateful
to Tim Kasser for his insightful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.
J. J. Froh (&) J. A. Wilson
Department of Psychology, Hofstra University, 210 Hauser Hall, Hempstead, NY 11549, USA
R. A. Emmons
University of California, Davis, CA, USA
N. A. Card
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
G. Bono
Whittier College, Whittier, CA, USA
J Happiness Stud (2011) 12:289–302
DOI 10.1007/s10902-010-9195-9
Author's personal copy
1 Introduction
As children grow into adults, they internalize attitudes and values from society. Societal
concerns impact the direction in which the self develops and the importance placed on
various life domains. This socialization process has been well studied for numerous aspects
of culture, including how children begin to think of their gender, their race, their sense of
self, as well as other aspects of their identities (Kasser 2005)—including their materialistic
value orientation (Kasser et al. 2004). Indeed, in addition to experiences that induce
feelings of insecurity (e.g., divorce; Rindfleisch et al. 1997), exposure to materialistic
social models exerts a direct influence on children acquiring and internalizing materialistic
values (Kasser et al. 2004).
When materialistic values become essential to a person’s value system, personal well-
being decreases because it is likely that experiences supporting basic psychological needs
will decrease and thus these needs will go unmet (Kasser et al. 2004; Kasser and Ryan
1993, 1996). Gratitude, however, seems to have an opposite effect on personal well-being
partly because it helps people fulfill the basic psychological needs of competence,
autonomy, and relatedness (Kneezel and Emmons 2006). And because materialism is a
problem for youth, and concerns about rising material strivings are increasing among
parents, educators, and scientists (Chaplin and John 2007), the purpose of this study was to
examine the effects of materialism and gratitude on social, emotional, and academic
functioning in adolescence.
1.1 Theoretical Framework
Self-determination theory (SDT; Ryan and Deci 2000) suggests people have three innate
needs that drive self-motivation, personality integration, and successful self-regulation:
competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Competence is a desire to affect one’s environ-
ment and achieve valued outcomes within it (Deci and Ryan 2000). Autonomy is the desire
to engage in self-selected behaviors that are concordant with one’s strengths and person-
ality (Deci and Ryan 2000). And relatedness is the desire to feel connected to others and
have a sense of belonging (Deci and Ryan 2000).
These needs appear crucial for well-being (Ryan and Deci 2000). Valuing intrinsic
aspirations (e.g., affiliation, growth, and community) is related positively with well-being
and negatively with depression and anxiety; however, valuing extrinsic aspirations (e.g.,
wealth, fame, and image) is related negatively with well-being and positively with
depression and anxiety (Kasser and Ryan 1993). People who over invest in extrinsic or
materialistic goals are more likely to experience mental illness, not mental health, because
the fulfillment of basic psychological needs may remain unmet (Kasser 2002). For
example, needs of autonomy and competence would not be fulfilled if an individual were
to buy a particular brand of apparel to impress peers, and this choice then has the effect of
compromising their ability to successfully execute an important task (e.g., job, duty) or
valued activity (e.g., sport, hobby). If, however, an individual buys a brand of apparel that
improves their ability to engage in a task or activity and improves their execution of that
task or activity, then they are likely to fulfill their needs for autonomy and competence.
Indeed, materialistic adolescents may be less likely to report being intensely absorbed or
engrossed in a personally meaningful activity (Kasser 2002), unlike grateful adolescents
(Froh et al. 2010). This may happen because materialistic values: (a) focus people more on
the external rewards of an activity than on interest and challenge; (b) lead people to
become self-conscious, thus minimizing absorption because it requires losing awareness of
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oneself; and (c) encourage some behaviors (e.g., watching television) that rarely produce
absorption (Kasser 2002). On the other hand, because gratitude is a positive response to
receiving a benefit (Emmons 2007), it tends to promote valuing connections to people,
personal growth, and social capital (i.e., intrinsic aspirations) (Bono and Froh 2009). Thus,
it seems likely that gratitude and materialism drive incompatible ways of functioning.
Values theory provides additional explanation for such links between gratitude and
materialism (Bilsky and Schwartz 1994). In this framework values are desirable, trans-
situational goals that vary in importance and help guide people’s lives. Within a dynamic
structure involving distinct values, some values are incompatible with each other; actions
to fulfill one may conflict with actions to pursue another. One of the major conflicts is
between orientations of self-enhancement (pursuing success and dominance over others)
versus self-transcendence (accepting others as equals and being concerned for their wel-
fare) (Bilsky and Schwartz 1994). Materialism likely falls under the former (Kasser 2005;
Sheldon and Kasser 1995), whereas gratitude likely falls under the latter. Specifically,
gratitude is most closely related to values of benevolence (preserving and enhancing the
welfare of close others) and universalism (understanding, appreciating, tolerating, and
protecting the welfare of people and nature) (Bilsky and Schwartz 1994). These values are
diametrically opposed to power (desiring social status and control over people and
resources) and hedonism (desiring sensory pleasure for oneself), (Bilsky and Schwartz
1994), which likely are the two values most aligned with materialism. Therefore, values
theory would predict a negative correlation between gratitude and materialism because
they represent opposing value systems.
Further evidence exists for the conflict between goals driven by gratitude and goals
driven by materialism. In a group of 1,854 undergraduates from 15 cultures worldwide, 11
types of goals
aligned consistently with two underlying orthogonal dimensions in a cir-
cumplex model: intrinsic (e.g., community, affiliation) versus extrinsic (e.g., financial
success, image) (Grouzet et al. 2005). Therefore, to the extent that gratitude is an intrinsic
value and is related to goals of community and affiliation (Emmons 2007), it will likely
conflict with materialistic goals.
1.2 Materialism, Gratitude, and Well-Being
Materialism is a lifestyle based on accumulating and acquiring consumer goods beyond
what is necessary to meet basic needs (Kasser 2002). It involves the belief that it is
important to attain financial success, nice possessions, the right image, and high status
(Kasser et al. 2004). Consumer researchers define materialism as the importance a person
places on worldly possessions (Belk 1984) or to acquiring possessions that he considers
necessary to attain goals (e.g., happiness) (Richins and Dawson 1992). Although materi-
alism has been identified with personality traits such as envy, lack of generosity, and
possessiveness (Belk 1985), it is currently identified with values and an orientation to
consumption-based aims, beliefs, goals, and behaviors (Kasser et al. 2004). Indeed,
materialism is now typically measured via the ‘values method’ where participants rate a
variety of different goals and values—such as those concerning spirituality, relationships,
sensual pleasure, and materialism—in terms of how important each is to their lives (Kasser
and Ryan 1993, 1996).
The 11 goals were: hedonism, safety, physical health, self-acceptance, affiliation, community feeling,
spirituality, conformity, popularity, image, and financial success.
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Negative psychological correlates of materialism exist in adulthood. Materialistic adults
tend to exhibit life dissatisfaction (Richins and Dawson 1992), unhappiness (Belk 1985),
low self-esteem (Kasser 2002), less concern with the welfare of others (Sheldon and Kasser
1995), less relatedness, autonomy, competence, and meaning in life (Kashdan and Breen
2007), and more depression (Kasser and Ryan 1993) and envy (Belk 1985). Beyond
reporting low levels of gratitude (Kashdan and Breen 2007; McCullough et al. 2002),
materialistic adults are less satisfied with their standards of living, family lives, and the
amount of fun and enjoyment they experience (Richins and Dawson 1992).
Several studies document similar findings in children and adolescents. Materialistic
youth tend to be less committed to school (Goldberg et al. 2003), more preoccupied with
consumer behaviors (Goldberg et al. 2003) have poorer academic performance (Roberts
et al. 1999), and are at greater risk for psychopathology (e.g., depression; Cohen and Cohen
1996), anxiety, and unhappiness (Kasser 2005). Further, they are not only less likely to
experience family togetherness (Flouri 2004), but they are also less likely to be socially
integrated, or inclined to connect to and help others in their neighborhood and community
(Froh et al. 2010).
Gratitude, on the other hand, may promote healthy social development. Grateful youth
report satisfaction with their friends, family, community, and school; they also report
having supportive family and peer relationships, as well as helping others (Froh et al.
2009). Further, by focusing young people on ways others have benefited them, gratitude
may enhance self-respect (Froh et al. 2008b). Therefore, gratitude seems crucial for healthy
development because it focuses youth on how their lives are supported and sustained by
others, which should bolster feelings of being valued and of security—states that are
negatively related with materialism.
1.3 The Present Study
Research examining the relation between materialism and well-being in youth is scarce
despite concerns about the ill effects of materialism on youth (Kasser 2002; Schor 2004).
Research has yet to examine how materialism and gratitude simultaneously, and therefore
uniquely, predict such broad outcomes as academic functioning (grade point average
[GPA]), life satisfaction, absorption, social integration, envy, and depression. We expect
that materialism will negatively predict gratitude, GPA, life satisfaction, absorption, and
social integration, and positively predict depression and envy. We also expect that grati-
tude will positively predict GPA, life satisfaction, absorption, and social integration, and
negatively predict depression and envy. Finally, we expect that the paths between gratitude
and the outcomes will be stronger than the paths between materialism and the outcomes.
2 Method
2.1 Procedure
Students enrolled in curriculum that all students receive (i.e., English) were sought for
participation to increase the odds of obtaining a representative sample of the school. The
students were recruited by the first author, while working as a school psychologist in the
same district. He contacted the principal of the school where data were collected and asked
for permission to distribute parental consent forms and collect data after receiving passive
parental consent and active student assent. Of the 1,090 students in the school, 50 were
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absent the day of data collection, and five parents/guardians returned the consent forms
requesting that their child not participate in the study. All data were collected from one
school in a city in Long Island, New York during spring 2007. One week prior to data
collection, the first author reviewed all measures and instructions with the vice principal
who then reviewed them with the teachers. Teachers were given a script for introducing the
study to students to ensure uniformity and control for potential demand characteristics.
Teachers administered questionnaires in classrooms.
2.2 Participants
Participants were 1,035 students from a public high school (mean age = 15.67 years,
SD = 1.21, range = 14–19 years). Students were in grades 9 (27.8%), 10 (25.0%), 11
(25.7%), and 12 (21.5%) within an affluent district (district median household
income = $94,339; state median household income = $43,393). Most were Caucasian
(64.7%), about half were male (50.6%), and 12.5% reported receiving special education
2.3 Measures
2.3.1 Materialism
The Material Values Scale (MVS; Richins 2004) is a 15-item measure of materialism using
a Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree). In adult samples, internal
reliabilities have ranged from .79 to .91 (Richins 2004). The MVS evaluates three distinct
aspects (each serving as an indicator in our latent variable models described below):
success (e.g., ‘I admire people who own expensive homes, cars, and clothes.’’), centrality
(e.g., ‘‘Buying things gives me a lot of pleasure.’’), and happiness (e.g., ‘I’d be happier if I
could afford to buy more things.’’). An initial exploratory factor analysis indicated that
these items are unidimensional, and in the current sample, the MVS total score demon-
strated good internal consistency (a = .81).
2.3.2 Gratitude
We used three scales to assess gratitude (each serving as an indicator in our latent variable
models). The Gratitude Questionnaire–6 (GQ-6; McCullough et al. 2002) is a 6-item
measure of gratitude using a Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree)to7(strongly agree)
including items such as, ‘If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a
very long list,’ (We replaced ‘grateful’ with ‘thankful’ in the items because we have
found that youth use the latter more when describing their experience as a beneficiary). The
GQ-6 has a robust one-factor solution (McCullough et al. 2002) and has demonstrated
good internal consistency in adult (a = .82; McCullough et al. 2002) and early adolescent
samples (a = .82; Froh et al. 2008b). In the current sample, the GQ-6 demonstrated
acceptable internal consistency (a = .76).
The Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (GRAT)-short form (Thomas and
Watkins 2003) is a 16-item measure of gratitude using a Likert scale from 1 (strongly
disagree)to9(strongly agree). Internal consistency is excellent in adult samples
(a = .92), as are convergent and discriminant validity (Thomas and Watkins 2003). The
GRAT-short form assesses three aspects: lack of a sense of deprivation (e.g., ‘Life has
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been good to me.’’), simple appreciation (e.g., ‘‘Oftentimes I have been overwhelmed at the
beauty of nature.’’), and appreciation for others (e.g., ‘I couldn’t have gotten where I am
today without the help of many people.’’). In the current sample, the total GRAT score
demonstrated good internal consistency (a = .82), and alpha for the subscales ranged from
acceptable to good (lack of a sense of deprivation: a = .81; simple appreciation: a = .74;
appreciation for others: a = .73).
The Gratitude Adjective Checklist (GAC; McCullough et al. 2002) is the sum of three
adjectives (grateful, thankful, and appreciative) rated on a Likert scale from 1 (very slightly
or not at all)to5(extremely). It has shown good internal consistency in adult (a = .87)
(McCullough et al. 2002) and adolescent samples (a = .78 - .88) (Froh et al. 2008a). The
students were asked to indicate how much they felt each emotion ‘in general.’ In the
current sample, the GAC demonstrated good internal consistency (a = .86).
Together, the GQ-6, GRAT-short form, and GAC comprised the latent variable for
gratitude in our model.
2.3.3 Academic achievement
Students were asked to report their GPA. The response options were: 95 and above, 90–
94.9, 85–89.9, 80–84.9, 75–79.9, 70–74.9, 65.0–69.9, and 64.9 and below. (This school
district uses a 0–100 scale for GPA.)
2.3.4 Life satisfaction
The Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS; Seligson et al.
2003) is a 5-item measure using a Likert scale ranging from 1 (terrible)to7(delighted)
that assesses satisfaction with family life, friendships, school experience, self, and living
environment. Internal consistency has been acceptable with middle school students
(a = .75) and good with high school students (a = .81). Confirmatory factor analyses
support its construct validity with a total life satisfaction score accounting for 50% of the
total variance (Huebner et al. 2003). Overall life satisfaction is the sum of the five items. A
sample item is, ‘I would describe my satisfaction with my family life as _________.’ In
the current sample, the BMSLSS demonstrated acceptable internal consistency (a = .72),
and the five items were parceled into three indicators for latent variable analysis.
2.3.5 Envy
The Dispositional Envy Scale (DES; Smith et al. 1999) is an 8-item measure of envy using
a Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree). In college samples, internal
consistency (sample 1 a = .86, and sample 2 a = .83) and 2-week test-retest reliability is
good (.80) (Smith et al. 1999). A sample item is, ‘I feel envy every day.’ In the current
sample, the DES demonstrated good internal consistency (a = .87). We formed three
parceled indicators from these eight items for our latent variable models.
2.3.6 Depression
The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC; Weissman
et al. 1980) is a 20-item measure of depression using a Likert scale from 1 (not at all)to4
(a lot
). Concurrent validity and test-retest reliability have been established (Faulstich et al.
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1986). It has demonstrated good internal consistency (a = .88) in a sample of 156 youth
ranging in age from 8 to 17 years (Brage et al. 1993). A sample item is, ‘I felt down and
unhappy.’ In the current sample, the CES-DC demonstrated good internal consistency
(a = .89), and the 20 items were parceled into three indicators for latent variable analysis.
2.3.7 Absorption and social integration
The Engaged Living in Youth Scale (ELYS; Froh et al. 2010) is a 15-item measure of
positive psychological functioning using a Likert scale from 1 (definitely not like me)to6
(exactly like me). In a sample of early and late adolescents, internal consistency was good
for the absorption (a = .89) (6 items) and social integration (a = .84) (9 items) subscales
(Froh et al. 2010). A sample item for absorption is, ‘While doing my hobbies (e.g., sports,
reading, musical instruments, acting, etc.), I feel ‘in the zone,’’ and a sample item for
social integration is, ‘I feel like a part of my community/neighborhood.’ In the current
sample, the absorption (a = .82) and social integration subscale (a = .83) demonstrated
good internal consistency. The 6 items from the absorption subscale and 9 items from the
social integration subscale were each parceled into three indicators for latent variable
2.3.8 Socioeconomic status
The Hollingshead Four Factor Index of Social Status (Hollingshead 1975) uses a combi-
nation of education and occupation ratings to categorize individuals into five social classes,
which correspond roughly with upper class (Class I), the middle classes (Classes II and III),
the working class (Class IV), and the poor (Class V). An individual’s occupational prestige
is rated on a 10-point scale, from 0 = housewives, those on welfare, laid-off workers, and
unemployed to 9 = executives, commissioned officers in the military, major government
officials, and professionals. Education level is also rated on a 7-point scale, from
1 = under 7 years of schooling to 7 = completed some graduate or professional training.
These two ratings are then combined as follows: (5 9 [occupation]) ? 3 9 [education]).
For a family where both parents work, the same calculations would be made for each
parent. Then, the total score for each parent would be added together and divided by two to
create a final socioeconomic status continuous code for that family.
3 Results
3.1 Measurement Model
We first calculated descriptive statistics for the main study variables and socioeconomic
status (see Table 1). We then fit a confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) model to evaluate
measurement of our latent constructs. This mode fit the data well: v
= 1045.94,
CFI = .96, RMSEA = .055
(90% confidence interval = .051–.058)
. This fit, and the absence of
noteworthy modification indices, provides support for this measurement model. Inspection
of the factor loadings indicated that all were significant and substantial, with standardized
loadings ranging from .60 to .89.
The latent correlations from this CFA are shown in Table 2. From this table, we see that
materialism and gratitude have a medium negative association with each other.
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Materialism is associated with lower GPA, higher envy, lower life satisfaction, and lower
social integration and absorption (small-to-medium associations). In contrast, gratitude has
medium associations with higher GPA and absorption, strong positive relations with life
satisfaction and social integration, and medium associations with lower envy and
depression. This table also displays associations with variables that will serve as covariates
in subsequent models (constructs 1–5). Here, we see that females have higher levels of
gratitude and lower levels of materialism than males, but that materialism and gratitude are
unrelated to age, being an ethnic minority, SES, or receipt of special education services
(Fig. 1).
Table 1 Means, standard devia-
tions, and range for the main
study variables and socioeco-
nomic status
GQ-6, Gratitude Quesitonnaire-6;
GRAT-short form Gratitude,
Resentment, and Appreciation
Test-short form; GAC Gratitude
Adjective Checklist; SES
Socioeconomic status
Outcome Mean SD Range
Materialism 43.08 8.25 17–75
GQ-6 33.17 5.43 7–42
GRAT-short form 101.03 17.18 46–144
GAC 11.21 2.84 3–15
GPA 6.24 1.30 1–8
Life satisfaction 27.08 4.41 13–35
Envy 17.46 6.42 8–39
Depression 36.76 10.41 20–73
Absorption 27.57 5.60 8–36
Social integration 38.56 7.78 11–54
SES 49.27 9.76 6–66
Table 2 Latent correlations among constructs (From CFA)
1. Age -.01 .06 -.15* .05 -.08 .06 .05 -.02 .09* -.10* -.03 -.09*
2. Sex
-.01 .04 -.07 .19* -.14* .16* .07 .19* -.08 .22* -.16*
3. Ethnicity
-.07 -.01 .05 .07 -.11* -.07 .04 -.09 .14* .02
4. SES -.02 .02 -.08 .22* .05 .05 -.03 -.02 .01
5. Special
-.09 .06 -.29* .10* .01 .01 .01 .01
6. Gratitude -.34* .28* -.35* -.43* .69* .76* .34*
7. Materialism -.22* .25* .06 -.10* -.22* -.02
8. GPA -.13* -.10* .20* .17* .08
9. Envy .51* -.44* -.12* -.10*
10. Depression -.70* -.08 -.20*
11. Life
.35* .27*
12. Social
13. Absorption
* p
\ .01
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3.2 Materialism and Gratitude as Predictors of Adjustment
We next fit a structural model in which materialism and gratitude predict GPA, envy,
depression, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, controlling for sex, age,
ethnic minority status, SES, and receipt of special education services. This is a saturated
structural model, which means that the fit is equal to the CFA model described above.
Standardized latent regression coefficients of materialism and gratitude predicting the six
aspects of adjustment are shown in Table 3, and can be interpreted as the unique relations
(i.e., controlling for the other) of materialism and gratitude to adjustment. Inspection of
these values indicates that gratitude, controlling for materialism, uniquely predicts all
outcomes considered: higher GPA, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as
well as lower envy and depression. In contrast, materialism, after controlling for gratitude,
uniquely predicts three of the six outcomes: lower GPA, as well as higher envy and life
3.3 Relative Strengths of Materialism and Gratitude as Predictors
To further evaluate the relative predictive powers of materialism versus gratitude, we
compared the relative magnitudes of these regression paths. Specifically, for depression,
life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption (i.e., those outcomes for which the two
Fig. 1 Structural model of materialism and gratitude predicting adjustment. Notes. Model controls for age,
sex, ethnicity, SES, and receipt of special education services. Only statistically significant (p \ .01)
predictive paths shown. Model fit: v
= 1045.94, CFI = .96, RMSEA = .055
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regression paths were in the same direction), we fit a series of nested models in which the
parallel paths (e.g., materialism predicting depression and gratitude predicting depression)
were constrained equally. For GPA and envy, in which the regression paths were of
opposite sign, we compared the absolute magnitudes of the materialism versus regression
paths by constraining one to equal the inverse of the other. We inspected the increase in
model misfit (Dv
) due to these constraints to evaluate whether this equality constraint was
tenable; if it was not (i.e., Dv
was high relative to Ddf), then we concluded that the
magnitudes of these paths were significantly different. Results of these comparisons are
summarized in the rightmost column of Table 3. These findings indicate that gratitude is
generally a stronger predictor of these six outcomes than is materialism (though the dif-
ference in magnitude is only marginal, p = .055, for GPA).
4 Discussion
Gratitude is an underexplored topic in youth (see Bono and Froh 2009 and Froh and Bono
2008, for reviews) with only two published studies demonstrating that gratitude inter-
ventions tend to boost gratitude and well-being in youth (Froh et al. 2008a, 2009a). In the
current study we found that grateful adolescents attained a higher GPA, were more socially
integrated, were higher in absorption and life satisfaction, and were less envious and
depressed than their less grateful counterparts. Furthermore, the relation between gratitude
and five of these six outcomes was stronger than that of materialism with these outcomes.
When combined with previous research, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge about the
benefits of gratitude in adolescents, and thus an important gap in the literature on gratitude
and well-being is beginning to be filled.
Part of the reason why people who pursue intrinsic goals report greater well-being than
those who pursue extrinsic or materialistic goals (Kasser and Ryan 1996) is because
materialism erodes friendships (Kasser 2002). But gratitude may safeguard against this
erosion as it is related to perceived quality of relationships through both self-report (e.g.,
Wood et al. 2008) and peer-report (Algoe et al. 2008; Emmons and McCullough 2003).
Gratitude seems to influence intrinsic goal pursuit, other-oriented motivations, and the
Table 3 Unique predictions of materialism and gratitude to adjustment
Materialism Gratitude Comparison
GPA -.10* .22* 3.68, p = .055
Envy .17* -.32* 4.36, p \ .05
Depression -.08 -.51* 98.65, p \ .001
Life satisfaction .14* .79* 184.47, p \ .001
Social integration .03 .76* 314.77, p \ .001
Absorption .09 .41* 51.21, p \ .001
Values are standardized latent regression coefficients in which Materialism and Gratitude were treated as
correlated predictors of the six outcome variables, controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, SES, and special
education services
Comparisons in the magnitudes of the predictive relation of materialism versus gratitude to each aspect of
adjustment were evaluated using nested-model comparisons (see text for details), with values representing 1
df Dv
* p \ .01
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fulfillment of higher-order needs (e.g., self-expression and purpose), whereas materialism
seems to fuel extrinsic goal pursuit, individualistic motivations, and the fulfillment of
lower-order needs (e.g., possessions of comfort and safety) (Kasser 2002; Polak and
McCullough 2006).
For example, in a daily diary study examining undergraduate students’ gratitude and
materialism over a 2-week period, researchers found that on days when people were less
materialistic than usual, they also tended to be more grateful on that same day. This link
held after controlling for trait materialism, implying that gratitude is related to less
materialistic strivings, no matter how generally materialistic the person. Further, materi-
alism was related to increased social loneliness and conflicted exchanges, but gratitude was
related to even stronger decreases in these outcomes (Bono and Polak 2007). Helping to
explain the above patterns, others (Kashdan and Breen 2007) found that materialism was
negatively related with well-being by way of increased experiential avoidance (i.e.,
unwillingness to face negatively evaluated thoughts, feelings and sensations, as well as the
circumstances begetting such experiences). Together, these findings illustrate ways grati-
tude and materialism pull people toward different ways of being in the world—gratitude
promotes valuing connections to people, mindful growth, and social capital, whereas
materialism promotes valuing possessions, instant comfort, and social status.
Until the current study, however, it was unknown whether and how these effects occur
in youth. With gratitude and materialism having divergent associations with well-being
among adolescents, gratitude may prove useful for advancing many of the social devel-
opment goals increasingly addressed by schools. For example, there is evidence that strong
extrinsic values are linked to increased health risk behavior (in terms of tobacco, alcohol,
and marijuana use, as well as sexual activity) (Williams et al. 2000). Thus, gratitude may
aid flourishing in youth because it motivates them to fulfill basic needs of personal growth,
relationships, and community—all of which reduce vulnerability to the main health risks
they face.
Materialism and life satisfaction were negatively correlated when examining the
bivariate relation between these variables, but they were positively correlated in the
structural model. Thus, it is possible that materialistic youth report higher levels of life
satisfaction because their material goods bring them happiness. The correlation between
materialism and life satisfaction may also hinge on the meaning and significance of
materialism for particular individuals. To the extent that social interactions involve objects
and activities that seem materialistic on the surface (e.g., the latest digital gizmos), such
acquisitions may provide greater social inclusion. Furthermore, if gratitude is a stand-in for
‘intrinsic values’ it suggests that the relation between materialism and life satisfaction is
mostly due to the problem of conflict between materialism and such values.
Some might argue that the relation between materialism and the main study variables is
due to the high socioeconomic status of our sample. In other words, is materialism related
with ill-being only for adolescents who presumably want for nothing and are concerned
with image (e.g., attending an Ivy League school after graduation)? In order to test this
possibility, we first statistically controlled for socioeconomic status when conducting our
analyses, removing its effects on the outcomes. Second, youth from higher socioeconomic
backgrounds actually tend to be lower in materialism compared to youth from lower
socioeconomic backgrounds. Indeed, youth who live in areas of economic deprivation tend
to score particularly high on materialism (Nairn et al. 2007). Thus, it is unlikely that
materialism’s relationship with ill-being in our study was due to the high proportion of
‘rich’ kids in our sample.
Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism 299
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One noteworthy limitation is our exclusive reliance on self-report data, which may have
artificially inflated our findings due to shared-reporter variance. Future research on grati-
tude in youth could benefit from using multiple methods, including behavioral, physio-
logical, and informant (peer/parent/teacher) data to decrease the shared method variance.
For example, during a classroom break giving students the option to either socialize or help
their teacher could behaviorally measure gratitude’s function as a moral motive (i.e.,
igniting prosocial behavior; McCullough et al. 2001). A second limitation is that the
present study was cross-sectional, which limits our ability to make causal inferences.
Future researchers should employ longitudinal methods to draw conclusions of temporal
primacy among these constructs (e.g., Froh et al. 2009b). Furthermore, experimental
interventions focused on gratitude might also provide clarity of causal relations (e.g., Froh
et al. 2009a). Specifically, future researchers interested in studying gratitude interventions
in youth might want to consider materialism as an outcome. This would add to the liter-
ature because the two published studies examining gratitude interventions in youth (Froh
et al. 2008a, 2009a) focused exclusively on well-being as the outcome. As mentioned
above, researchers interested in such work should go beyond self-report and include
behavioral measures of materialism to increase the scientific rigor of the experiment. For
example, parents/guardians could submit their purchase receipts acquired over the past
week (or some other time frame) and indicate the purchases made at their child’s request.
Compelling data would indicate a significant decrease in money spent on child purchase
requests after the intervention. Finally, our data are from students from one school in an
affluent school district. Thus, our findings must be interpreted with caution due to the poor
generalizability, and future researchers are encouraged to use more diverse samples to
determine the extent of replication.
As gratitude involves wanting what one has rather than having what one wants,
instilling a sense of gratitude may help people appreciate the gifts of the moment and
experience freedom from past regrets and future anxieties. With gratitude comes the
realization that happiness is not contingent upon materialistic happenings in one’s life, but
rather from being embedded in caring networks of giving and receiving. And because
materialism causes the denigration of relationships—partly by fostering the view that
people are objects, things to be used for one’s benefit (Kasser 2002)—methods and
messages encouraging non-materialistic values must become a priority if we want youth to
be flourishing. If a growing interest in material things in youth continues to show links to
poorer school performance, negative attitudes about school, and unhappiness, then it will
undoubtedly elevate public concern (Goldberg et al. 2003). In the meanwhile, our data
suggest that encouraging gratitude may help counter this trend.
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... However, government-sponsored pre-service teachers, who are mainly drawn from disadvantaged backgrounds, often face financial constraints resulting in low levels of life satisfaction and happiness (Opree et al., 2012). In addition, they may have a negative attitude towards education and lack intrinsic motivation to learn (Froh et al., 2011;Ku et al., 2014). However, existing research has not established the mechanism underlying the relationship between materialistic values and learning burnout. ...
... Gratitude is one of the most efficacious tools in positive psychology and is also a potent predictor of psychological well-being (Davis et al., 2016;Wood et al., 2010). Gratitude is linked to academic accomplishment and self-motivation (Froh et al., 2011;Valdez et al., 2017;Valdez & Chu, 2020) and reduces learning burnout. Previous studies have shown that gratitude enhances achievement motivation, goal pursuit, and diminishes learning burnout by creating a sense of debt (Bono & Froh, 2009;Froh & Bono, 2008;Froh et al., 2011;Naito et al., 2005). ...
... Gratitude is linked to academic accomplishment and self-motivation (Froh et al., 2011;Valdez et al., 2017;Valdez & Chu, 2020) and reduces learning burnout. Previous studies have shown that gratitude enhances achievement motivation, goal pursuit, and diminishes learning burnout by creating a sense of debt (Bono & Froh, 2009;Froh & Bono, 2008;Froh et al., 2011;Naito et al., 2005). ...
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This study set out to explore the relationship between materialistic values (MVS), ontological security threat (OST), gratitude, and learning burnout (LB) among pre-service teachers enrolled in the Free Teacher Education program in China. MVS, adolescent student burnout, gratitude, and OST questionnaires were administered to 801 pre-service teachers. Data processing was conducted using IBM SPSS 26.0 and AMOS 24.0. The SPSS macro program Model 4 was used to identify mediating mechanisms. Study findings were as follows: (1) MVS was positively correlated with both OST and LB, but negatively correlated with gratitude. (2) OST was positively correlated with LB, while gratitude was negatively correlated with LB. (3) The impact of MVS on pre-service teachers' LB was simultaneously mediated by OST and gratitude. MVS not only directly predicts pre-service teachers' LB, but also influences LB through the independent mediators of OST and gratitude.
... Recent studies have also suggested that gratitude may be associated with academic engagement. For example, a study by Froh et al. [15] found that higher levels of gratitude were associated with higher levels of academic motivation and engagement among high school students. Similarly, Wen et al. [16] found that gratitude can positively predict the academic engagement of Chinese junior high school students. ...
... To summarize the ndings, the results suggested that gratitude has signi cant positive predictive effect on academic engagement, which is consistent with previous research [15,16]. Basic Psychological Needs theory, which is a sub-theory of Self-Determination Theory, states that everyone has three innate psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. ...
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This paper examines the relationship between gratitude and academic engagement among Chinese high school students, exploring the mediating effects of internal locus of control and subjective well-being. The students of some high schools in Guangzhou were surveyed using the Gratitude Questionnaire-6, the School Engagement Questionnaire, the Levenson’s IPC Scale, and the General Well-being Schedule, and 708 valid questionnaires were collected. Results showed a significant positive relationship between gratitude and academic engagement; internal locus of control and subjective well-being played a mediating role between gratitude and academic engagement, respectively; internal locus of control and subjective well-being played a chain mediating role between gratitude and academic engagement. These findings suggest that we can promote students' academic engagement not only by cultivating their gratitude, but also by improving their internal locus of control and subjective well-being.
... Various strategies have been proposed to reduce the strength of materialistic goals (Kasser, 2016). These include encouraging discussion of advertising and consumption issues (Buijzen & Valkenburg, 2003), reflecting on intrinsic goals (Lekes et al., 2012), and practising gratitude (Froh et al., 2011) which enables individuals to feel more secure and thus, less susceptible to seeking comfort through material goods. ...
... Advertisements that emphasize materialistic aspirations should be limited within online or physical stores as these could discourage flow. In line with the proposals for how to reduce the salience of materialistic goals outlined in the previous paragraph (Froh et al., 2011;Lekes et al., 2012), advertisements which emphasize ideals of community, relationships, or personal growth (rather than status, fame, and image) may be well equipped to limit the extent to which materialistic goals are salient during the shopping experience. ...
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Given that flow experiences when shopping can encourage positive brand attitudes and purchase behaviours, consumer psychologists are interested in the antecedents to flow within retail environments. Emerging findings suggest that a materialistic goal orientation can undermine an individual’s tendency to have optimal experiences of flow. However, this existing work has been conducted largely within the field of Environmental Psychology and thus focused on flow experiences that occur in more ecologically sustainable activities. We hypothesized that materialism may not have the same flow-limiting effects when participants are engaged in shopping activities, which are more in line with the goals of highly materialistic individuals. Across two studies, we tested the relationship between materialism and the experience of flow during shopping activities using cross-sectional ( N = 886) and experimental ( N = 140) methods. Contrary to our hypothesis, both studies documented a negative effect of materialism on flow experiences when shopping, and this was not moderated by the type of store browsed. Accordingly, it appears that a materialistic goal orientation limits the extent to which people can have enjoyable flow experiences even during activities which are consistent with the life goals of highly materialistic individuals. We discuss the implications of these findings for wellbeing, marketing, and sustainability.
... As noted by Kiang [44], materialism has also been related to lower levels of well-being and life satisfaction, though also to higher self-efficacy and fewer emotional problems [46]. Numerous scholars have examined associations between self-reported gratitude and materialism in youth [10,44,47]. For example, Fu and colleagues [48] showed that adolescents' financial entitlement predicted less sympathy one year later, which, in turn, predicted less gratitude and prosocial behavior. ...
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Scholars posit that gratitude may enhance other-oriented beliefs and behaviors and dampen self-oriented ones through a cycle of upward generativity. We examined associations between gratitude as an indicator of self-orientation (i.e., materialism and entitlement) and other orientation (i.e., connection to nature; attitudes, beliefs, and conversations about social justice; prosocial behavior) in the US youth across six months as moderated by race/ethnicity and gender. Specifically, Study 1 evaluated the psychometric performance of the gratitude moments scale in a more racially and ethnically diverse sample than that included in the original scale development. In study 2, we evaluated pre-registered hypotheses among the youth who completed surveys in October 2020 and again in January 2021 (n = 812). These hypotheses tested (1) whether there were ethnic/racial differences in the measure of children’s gratitude; (2) whether there were reciprocal associations over time between children’s gratitude and indices of self and other orientation; and (3) whether these reciprocal associations varied as a function of youth race/ethnicity and gender. The results of study 1 found that the gratitude moments scale demonstrated high reliability and validity in racially/ethnically diverse young adolescents (n = 89). Using moderated nonlinear factor analysis in study 2, we found only one difference in how the gratitude moments scale performed as a function of race/ethnicity or gender. In cross-lagged panel models, gratitude moments did not predict subsequent self- and other-orientation indices, though youth with lower social justice attitudes and greater prosocial behavior showed increases in later gratitude moments. Prosocial behavior was more strongly and consistently related to self- and other-orientation indices than gratitude. These findings are consistent with models of prosocial behavior as a catalyst for the development of additional forms of other-oriented beliefs, attitudes, and actions that may underlie the development of an other-oriented purpose.
... Accordingly, it would improve students' adaptability and stimulate positive behaviours in learning and life, 39 further promoting individual learning engagement. On the other hand, gratitude can reduce individual learning burnout, 53 increase an individual's investment in learning activities, and improve academic achievement. There is a significant positive correlation between gratitude and learning engagement. ...
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Purpose: This paper reveals the mechanism of the influence of belief in a just world on college students' learning satisfaction, and provides reference for further improving the quality of talent training in higher education. Methods: By convenient sampling method, 131,894 college students from 348 undergraduate universities in China were investigated on the belief in a just world scale, gratitude scale, learning engagement scale and learning satisfaction scale. Then, SPSS, AMOS and other software were used to analyze the data. Results: 1) Belief in a just world, gratitude, learning engagement and learning satisfaction are positively correlated. 2) Belief in a just world can not only directly and positively predict college students' learning satisfaction, but also indirectly and positively predict college students' learning satisfaction through gratitude and learning engagement respectively. 3) Gratitude and learning engagement play a chain mediating role between belief in a just world and learning satisfaction. Conclusion: Belief in a just world positively predicts college students' learning satisfaction through gratitude and learning engagement, suggesting that colleges and universities should create a fair learning environment and enhance college students' sense of gratitude, so as to improve college students' belief in a fair world and gratitude level, thus promoting their learning engagement and finally improving their learning satisfaction.
Gratitude has mostly been explored in relation to well-being but whether it is associated with school-related outcomes such as motivation and engagement has seldom been explored. Motivation and engagement, however, are critical to students’ academic success. Hence, the aim of this study was to examine how gratitude is associated with different types of academic motivation (amotivation, controlled motivation, and autonomous motivation) and engagement (cognitive, behavioural, and emotional). We recruited 1099 Chinese university students and asked them to answer questionnaires assessing their levels of gratitude, motivation, and engagement. Structural equation modelling revealed that gratitude was positively associated with controlled motivation, autonomous motivation, and academic engagement but negatively associated with amotivation. Autonomous motivation partially mediated the relationship between gratitude and academic engagement. The findings of this study elucidate the theoretical linkages among gratitude, motivation, and engagement, demonstrating the importance of gratitude for school-related outcomes.
This article explores and describes parent-adolescent dyads’ experiences of gratitude activities in a South African context. Our sample of six parent-adolescent dyads (n = 12) completed structured gratitude activities to participate in over a period of three weeks, followed by qualitative interviews regarding their experiences. Thematic analysis of the data yielded the following themes regarding the experience of gratitude activities: (i) positive experiences such as difference, pleasantness, challenge, and usefulness; (ii) a deeper understanding of gratitude, including becoming aware of things participants previously took for granted; and (iii) the relational value of spending time together. Our brief gratitude intervention appeared to have efficacy for mutually supportive relationships among the parent-adolescent dyads.
The study aims to explore the nature of gratitude in university students. To achieve this objective, this study was comprised of three phases. In phase 1, the nature of gratitude was explored through focus groups with university students and review of literature. Two focus groups were conducted to generate a comprehensive pool of items. Verbatim of participants was compiled in the form of statements (35 items) and dubious content was deleted from the list of items. Content validity of Gratitude Scale (GS) was established through experts (psychologists) ratings (N=4). Eight items were excluded from the scale through experts’ ratings. Pilot study was conducted on a student sample (N=20) to check the ease of understanding. In phase 2, construct validity was explored through exploratory factor analysis (N=300). Two factors emerged on 27 items and named as Gratitude towards Others and Gratitude towards Allah. In phase 3, psychometric properties of GS were established. Convergent validity (N=150) was explored through using Satisfaction with Life scale (Ghani et al., 2004) (r=.50, p<0.01). Discriminant validity (N=150) was explored using Depression Scale of DASS-21 (Aslam & Kamal, 2017) (r=-.23, p<0.01). GS is a reliable and valid scale for assessing gratitude among university students of Pakistan. Keywords: Nature, gratitude, life satisfaction and depression.
p>Manusia sebagai makhluk sosial yang saling membutuhkan satu sama lain tidak akan bisa terlepas dari orang-orang di sekitarnya. Interaksi yang terjalin dalam lingkungan sosial tersebut akan menghasilkan tindakan tolong-menolong atau yang juga disebut perilaku prososial. Terdapat beberapa faktor yang dapat mempengaruhi perilaku prososial, dua diantaranya yakni syukur dan self-compassion . Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengetahui hubungan antara syukur dan self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial pada mahasiswa di Universitas Sebelas Maret. Subjek penelitian ini adalah mahasiwa Universitas Sebelas Maret Surakarta yang berjumlah 380 orang yang diambil menggunakan proportional random sampling . Adapun alat ukur yang digunakan dalam penelitian ini adalah skala syukur (α = 0.897), skala self-compassion (α = 0.902), dan skala perilaku prososial (α = 0.885). Hasil penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara syukur dan self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial. Hal ini dilihat dari nilai F hitungnya adalah sebesar 59.862 (F tabel = 1.17, F<sub>hitung</sub>> F<sub>tabel</sub>) dan (p=0.00 < 0.05). Nilai koefisien korelasi dari penelitian ini adalah 0.491 yang artinya kekuatan hubungan antara syukur dan self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial cukup kuat. Sementara itu, nilai R s quare nya adalah 0.241 yang menunjukkan bahwa besarnya konstribusi syukur dan self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial adalah 24,1%. Berdasarkan uji pearson, terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara syukur dan perilaku prososial (p = 0.000 , p < 0.05). Sedangkan self-compassion tidak memiliki hubungan yang signifikan dengan perilaku prososial dilihat dari nilai (p= 0.264, p > 0.05). Adapun kesimpulan dari penelitian ini adalah terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara syukur dan self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial, terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara syukur dengan perilaku prososial, dan tidak terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara self-compassion dengan perilaku prososial.</p
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In recent years, a number of studies have used the material values scale (MVS) developed by Richins and Dawson (1992) to examine materialism as a facet of consumer behavior. This research examines the MVS in light of the accumulated evidence concerning this measure. A review of published studies reportinginformation about the scale and analysis of 15 raw data sets that contain the MVS and other measures revealed that the MVS performs well in terms of reliability and empirical usefulness, but the dimensional structure proposed by Richins and Dawson is not always evident in the data. This article proposes a 15-item measure of the MVS that has better dimension properties than the original version. It also reports the development of a short version of the MVS. Scale lengths of nine, six, and three items were investigated. Results indicate that the nine-item version possesses acceptable psychometric properties when used to measure materialism at a general level. This article also describes a psychometric approach for developing shorter versions of extant multiitem measures.
The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
In four studies, the authors examined the correlates of the disposition toward gratitude. Study 1 revealed that self-ratings and observer ratings of the grateful disposition are associated with positive affect and well-being prosocial behaviors and traits, and religiousness/spirituality. Study 2 replicated these findings in a large nonstudent sample. Study 3 yielded similar results to Studies 1 and 2 and provided evidence that gratitude is negatively associated with envy and materialistic attitudes. Study 4 yielded evidence that these associations persist after controlling for Extraversion/positive affectivity, Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness. The development of the Gratitude Questionnaire, a unidimensional measure with good psychometric properties, is also described.
Abstract Traditional assessments of children’s mental health have focused on measuring symptoms,of psychopathology. A growi ng body of empirical evidence supports widening assessment to include measures ofindividual and environmental,protective assets. One personal strength that merits study among,children and adolescents is life satisfaction, which represents peoples’ subjective judgments ofthe quality of their lives as a whole orquality of specific domains,within their lives. This paper reviews the psychometric,properties and research histories of two brief life satisfaction measures available for use with youth. The Students' Life Satisfaction Scale (Huebner, 1991) is a 7- item measure of global life satisfaction; the Brief MultidimensionalStudents’ Life Satisfaction Scale is a 5-item measure of adolescents’ satisfaction with important