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Life Satisfaction

Authors:
L
Life Satisfaction
Carmel Proctor
1
, P. Alex Linley
2
and John
Maltby
1
1
Positive Psychology Research Centre, St Peter
Port, Guernsey
2
Centre of Applied Positive Psychology, The
Venture Centre, University of Warwick Science
Park, Coventry, UK
Overview
Adolescent life satisfaction is a key indicator of
mental health and is positively related to a broad
spectrum of positive personal, psychological,
behavioral, social, interpersonal, and intraper-
sonal outcomes (see Proctor et al. 2008 for a
review). Historically, adolescent life satisfaction
has been overlooked and understudied along with
various other positive indicators of optimal func-
tioning among youth. However, with the advent of
positive psychology, there has been a signicant
resurgence of the study of optimal functioning and
well-being during the past decade. Traditionally,
positive psychological function was informed
from the absence of psychopathological symp-
toms. However, recent evidence suggests that
high psychopathology can be accompanied by
high subjective well-being (SWB), just as low
psychopathology can be accompanied by low
SWB (Greenspoon and Saklofske 2001). That is,
an individual may display symptoms of
psychopathology and still be highly satised
with life or not display psychopathological symp-
toms and yet be very dissatised with life
suggesting that the absence of psychopathological
symptoms is not necessarily an indication of pos-
itive mental health (Proctor and Linley 2014).
Therefore, SWB should not simply be placed at
the opposite end from psychopathology on the
mental health/disease continuum (Huebner
1991a). Past investigations into subjective psy-
chological well-being among adolescents have
relied heavily on objective indicators such as fam-
ily income level, divorce rate, housing quality,
access to recreational facilities and medical health
services, and school expenditure. However, such
objective indicators fail to tap into individual (i.e.,
subjective) perceptions of quality of life
(cf. Proctor 2014). Life satisfaction, on the other
hand, is an individual cognitive evaluation of life
as a whole (Shin and Johnson 1978) and one of the
most well-established indicators of well-being
and positive functioning among young people
(Suldo et al. 2006).
Subjective well-being is considered a broad
area of scientic interest, which includes individ-
ual emotional responses (i.e., positive [e.g., joy,
optimism] and negative [e.g., sadness, anger]
affect), domain satisfactions (e.g., work satisfac-
tion), and global judgments of life satisfaction
(Diener et al. 1999). Unlike emotional responses,
which are invariably short lived and uctuating
(Gilman et al. 2000), domain satisfactions and
overall appraisals of life satisfaction are
#Springer International Publishing AG 2017
R.J.R. Levesque (ed.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-32132-5_125-2
considered to be the more stable components of
SWB and therefore the indicators most amenable
for inclusion in examinations of adolescentsper-
ceptions of their life circumstances (Eid and
Diener 2004; Huebner 2006). Measures of life
satisfaction are created on the basis of unidimen-
sional (i.e., global and general life satisfaction)
and multidimensional frameworks (Huebner
2004). In general, both unidimensional and multi-
dimensional measures of life satisfaction are self-
report. Unidimensional measures provide an over-
all total score as an indication of life satisfaction,
whereas multidimensional measures provide a
prole of life satisfaction across various domains
(see Proctor et al. 2009 for a review). For global
unidimensional measures, the total score is
derived from context-free items that allow respon-
dents to use their own criteria in weighting the
various aspects of their lives (Pavot and Diener
1993). Examples of global unidimensional mea-
sures include the StudentsLife Satisfaction Scale
(Huebner 1991b) and the Satisfaction with Life
Scale (Diener et al. 1985). For general unidimen-
sional measures, the total score is the sum of life
satisfaction reports across domains considered
fundamental to the contribution of overall life
satisfaction (Gilman and Huebner 2000). Exam-
ples of general unidimensional measures include
the Perceived Life Satisfaction Scale (Adelman
et al. 1989) and the Brief Multidimensional Stu-
dentsLife Satisfaction Scale (Seligson et al.
2003). For multidimensional measures, total
scores are calculated for each domain (Huebner
2004). Examples of multidimensional measures
include the Extended Satisfaction with Life
Scale (Alfonso et al. 1996) and the Multi-
dimensional StudentsLife Satisfaction Scale
(Huebner 1994).
Adolescent Life Satisfaction Research
Research into the correlates and consequences of
life satisfaction among adults has been studied
extensively. Comparatively, research among ado-
lescents has only begun to receive attention more
recently. Indeed, over the course of the last
decade, research examining the correlates
(e.g., demographic, personal, and environmental
factors) of adolescent life satisfaction has steadily
expanded such that current research in this area
seeks to understand the specic mechanisms that
link life satisfaction to its determinants and con-
sequences (Huebner et al. 2004). For example,
Ash and Huebner (2001) demonstrated that ado-
lescent life satisfaction was mediated by locus of
control (LOC) orientation (i.e., frequent negative
life events were related to decreased perceptions
of control, which was related to lower life satis-
faction). Similarly, Fogle et al. (2002) demon-
strated that social self-efcacy mediates the
relationship between extraversion and life satis-
faction. That is, although extraversion itself
lacked a strong direct inuence on life satisfac-
tion, positive perceptions of social capabilities
(i.e., social self-efcacy) served as the mechanism
through which extraversion effected life satisfac-
tion (Fogle et al. 2002). Research has also dem-
onstrated that life satisfaction is not only an
outcome of various psychosocial relationships
but also acts to mediate and moderate the relation-
ship between the environment and behavior. For
example, Suldo and Huebner (2004b) demon-
strated that life satisfaction mediates the relation-
ship between the social support-involvement
dimension of authoritative parenting and adoles-
cent problem behavior and partially mediates the
relationship between the other two parenting
dimensions (i.e., strictness-supervision and psy-
chological autonomy granting) and problem
behavior. Further, support has been provided for
the potential mediating role of life satisfaction
between stressful life events and internalizing
behavior (see McKnight et al. 2002). In addition,
there is recent evidence to suggest that increased
life satisfaction buffers against the negative
effects of stress and the development of psycho-
logical disorders. For example, adolescents with
positive life satisfaction are less likely to develop
later externalizing behaviors as a result of stressful
life events than adolescents with low life satisfac-
tion, suggesting that life satisfaction acts as a
moderator for (i.e., buffer against) externalizing
behavior (Suldo and Huebner 2004a).
2 Life Satisfaction
Demographic Factors and Life Satisfaction
Levels
Research has consistently shown that the relation-
ship between demographics (i.e., age, gender, eth-
nicity, socioeconomic status [SES]) and life
satisfaction is weak and that these variables con-
tribute only modestly to the prediction of adoles-
cent life satisfaction. However, noted differences
in the relationships between demographic vari-
ables and adolescent life satisfaction have been
made. For example, Ash and Huebner (2001)
found that SES was signicantly related to life
satisfaction reports of lower SES students (i.e.,
lower SES students reported lower life satisfac-
tion than higher SES students), whereas other
studies have only found modest (e.g., Dew and
Huebner 1994) relationships between the two.
Similarly, with regard to ethnicity, some studies
have found that African-American students report
lower levels of satisfaction in specic domains,
such as friends and living environment, than Cau-
casian students (e.g., Huebner et al. 2000a),
whereas others have found no differences (e.g.,
Adelman et al. 1989). Indeed, a study of 5,545
American studentsperceptions of their global
and domain-specic life satisfaction found that
global life satisfaction did not differ for adoles-
cents as a function of gender, grade, or ethnicity
but that there were modest relationships between
demographics and several of the domains sampled
(Huebner et al. 2000a).
Similar to cross-national data that has demon-
strated a positive level of happiness among adults
throughout the world, most adolescents report
their life satisfaction to be in the positive range.
For example, Huebner et al. (2000a) found that
73% of 5,545 high school students in grades 912
reported life satisfaction ratings in the mostly
satisedto delightedrange. Similar ndings
of an overall positive level of life satisfaction
among adolescents have been reported across var-
ious international studies (Huebner et al. 2000a,b;
Kuntsche and Gmel 2004; Leung and Zhang
2000; Neto 2001; Park and Huebner 2005), as
well as among studies involving special groups,
such as those with mental disabilities and learning
difculties (Brantley et al. 2002; McCullough and
Huebner 2003). However, it is noteworthy that
research ndings also demonstrate that global
life satisfaction tends to decline slightly with the
onset and progression of adolescence (i.e.,
advancement in age) and that these ndings are
similarly supported by international research,
including those from America (Suldo and
Huebner 2004b), Israel (Ullman and Tatar 2001),
South Korea (Park 2005), and China (Chang
et al. 2003).
Intrapersonal Factors
Unlike the modest impact of demographic vari-
ables on the components of SWB (e.g., life satis-
faction), personality and temperament variables
have been demonstrated to account for most of
the variance in SWB (Diener 1996). For example,
McKnight et al. (2002) found that temperament
variables accounted for approximately 16% of the
variance in prediction of life satisfaction ratings
among adolescents. Additional research has
linked increased life satisfaction during adoles-
cence with high levels of extraversion, social
self-efcacy (Fogle et al. 2002), social interest
and participation in structured extracurricular
activities (Gilman 2001), intrinsic values (Casas
et al. 2004), self-esteem (Dew and Huebner
1994), perfectionism (Gilman and Ashby 2003),
internal LOC (Ash and Huebner 2001), hope
(Gilman et al. 2006), and an adaptive attributional
style (Rigby and Huebner 2005). Moreover,
recent research has demonstrated that adolescent
life satisfaction is positively associated with indi-
vidual strengths of character (i.e., virtues)
(Gillham et al. 2011) and participation
curriculum-based strength initiatives (e.g.,
Proctor et al. 2011). In particular, Park and Peter-
son (2006) found the personal strengths of hope,
love, gratitude, and zest to be linked to increased
life satisfaction among adolescents. Similarly,
Shogren et al. (2006) found that both hope and
optimism predicted life satisfaction in adolescents
with and without cognitive disabilities. Further,
related research has shown that participating in
strength-based exercises, such as counting bless-
ings is associated with enhanced self-reported
gratitude, optimism, and life satisfaction and
decreased negative affect (Froh et al. 2008). In
contrast, life satisfaction among adolescents is
Life Satisfaction 3
inversely related to psychopathological condi-
tions, such as depression (Adelman et al. 1989),
anxiety, and neuroticism (Heaven 1989).
Decreased life satisfaction during adolescence
has also been linked with suicide behavior, such
as serious suicide consideration, planning for sui-
cide, attempted suicide, and suicide attempt
requiring medical treatment (Valois et al. 2004a),
loneliness (Moore and Schultz 1983), emotional
disturbance (Huebner and Alderman 1993), poor
self-concept (Dew and Huebner 1994), and inter-
nalizing and externalizing behavior problems
(Suldo and Huebner 2004b).
Physical and Health-Related Factors
Research aimed at examining adolescent mental
health has revealed life satisfaction to be nega-
tively associated with various health-risk behav-
iors. For instance, studies have linked low life
satisfaction with abuse of various substances
including cigarettes, cocaine, marijuana, steroids,
and alcohol (Zullig et al. 2001; Valois et al. 2010).
Similarly, dissatisfaction with life has also been
linked to violent and aggressive behaviors includ-
ing physical ghting, carrying a gun, carrying a
weapon, riding in a car with an impaired driver,
bullying, dating violence, and forced sex victim-
ization/perpetration (Callahan et al. 2003; Valois
et al. 2001). Conversely, research has revealed
prosocial experiences among adolescents to be
associated with increased life satisfaction and pos-
itive affect over and above the inuence of overt
and relational peer victimization suggesting that
prosocial peer interactions act as a protective fac-
tor (Martin and Huebner 2007). Adolescent life
satisfaction is also negatively related to eating
disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa
(Halvorsen and Heyerdahl 2006), poor eating
habits, and obesity. For example, Valois et al.
(2003) found life satisfaction to be negatively
related to poor perceptions of body weight, trying
to lose weight, and dieting, vomiting, using laxa-
tives, and taking diet pills to lose weight among
American adolescents. Similarly, Saluoumi and
Plourde (2010) found that Canadian adolescents
dissatised with their body, afraid of becoming
overweight, and engaged in weight control behav-
iors, such as smoking and avoiding food, had
reduced life satisfaction. Further studies have
shown eating disorders to be related to numerous
negative psychological, personality, and behav-
ioral factors, such as neuroticism, perfectionism,
negative self-evaluation, depression, and low self-
esteem (Halvorsen and Heyerdahl 2006;
Lombardi et al. 1998). Similarly, negative associ-
ations have been demonstrated between life satis-
faction and poor self-rated health, poor physical
health, poor mental health, and activity limitation
among adolescents (Zullig et al. 2005). Con-
versely, however, life satisfaction has a positive
relationship with a good diet (Piko 2006), strenu-
ous physical exercise, and various physical exer-
cise behaviors (Valois et al. 2004b; Vilhjalmsson
and Thorlindsson 1992). Indeed, research ndings
suggest that health-risk behaviors in adolescence
are associated with numerous functioning difcul-
ties that continue across the lifespan, including
reduced academic and occupational functioning,
impaired relationships, employment instability,
and early parenthood (Rohde et al. 2007;
cf. Georgiades and Boyle 2007).
Familial and Environmental Factors
Crucial to the attainment of adolescent life satis-
faction is adaptive and satisfying familial and
environmental conditions, such as family struc-
ture, parenting style, parental emotional and social
support, family conict, and quality of the physi-
cal environment. Specically, adolescent life sat-
isfaction has been demonstrated to be positively
associated with authoritative parenting (Suldo and
Huebner 2004b), authoritative mothering
(Milevsky et al. 2007), perceived parental support
(Burke and Weir 1979; Young et al. 1995), per-
ceived quality of attachment to parents
(Greenberg et al. 1983), perceived loving parental
relationship (Grossman and Rowat 1995), per-
ceived family functioning (Heaven et al. 1996),
cohesive family relationships (Manzi et al. 2006),
quality of parent-adolescent communication (Piko
and Hamvai 2010; Shek et al. 2006), and parental
marital status (Demo and Acock 1996). For exam-
ple, Kwan (2010) found that Chinese adolescents
from intact families enjoyed higher life satisfac-
tion than adolescents not living with both parents.
Further, healthy adolescent adjustment is also
4 Life Satisfaction
inuenced by the quality of sibling relationships,
especially among adolescent girls (Oliva and
Arranz 2005). Overall, research suggests that
parental separation, divorce, and remarriage are
associated with diminished well-being in adoles-
cents (Demo and Acock 1996); however, it is
more complex familial variables, such as lack of
paternal involvement, that have been shown to
exert a greater negative effect (Flouri and
Buchanan 2002; Grossman and Rowat 1995).
For example, Grossman and Rowat (1995) found
that perceived poor parental relationship, and not
family status, was associated with reduced life
satisfaction among a group of Canadian adoles-
cents. Similarly, Winkelmann (2006) found that
among German adolescents, it is living circum-
stance and not parental separation, which has the
greatest negative effect on well-being. Further-
more, removal of children from their homes into
residential treatment care due to severe family
discord is also associated with diminished life
satisfaction. For example, Sastre and Ferriere
(2000) examined the life satisfaction reports of
French adolescents living in residential treatment
centers and found that these adolescents had lower
life satisfaction than matched adolescents living at
home with their families. Moreover, research
conducted by Gilman and Barry (2003) demon-
strates that life satisfaction ratings can increase as
a function of time in residential care, suggesting
that life in a residential treatment facility may
enhance, rather than diminished, perceived qual-
ity of life for some adolescents. In addition to
studies of major life events affecting adolescent
life satisfaction, there is growing interest in the
role of minor life events (e.g., daily hassles, every-
day stressors) in changes in life satisfaction. For
example, McCullough et al. (2000) found that
minor daily events (e.g., ghts with friends,
doing poorly on an exam, enjoying a hobby, help-
ing other people) contributed unique variance
over and above that of major life events (e.g.,
death of family member, divorce). Similarly,
Suldo and Huebner (2004a) found that adoles-
cents with positive life satisfaction were less
likely to develop later externalizing behavior
problems following stressful life events than
those with low levels of life satisfaction. Overall,
quality of parental attachment has been found to
be the strongest unique predictor of adolescent life
satisfaction (e.g., Ma and Huebner 2008). This
nding is in keeping with previous research
supporting the importance of perceived support
by parents in determining adolescent life satisfac-
tion (e.g., Dew and Huebner 1994; Greenberg
et al. 1983). Similarly, Paxton et al. (2006) dem-
onstrated the importance of additional adult bond-
ing and meaningful relationships in the
community with other signicant adults to be
associated with increased life satisfaction among
adolescents.
Other familial and environmental factors that
affect adolescent life satisfaction include parental
alcoholism and adolescent pregnancy. In a cross-
sectional sample of Australian youths,
Braithwaite and Devine (1993) found that paren-
tal alcohol dependency and family disharmony
made signicant independent and unique contri-
bution to life dissatisfaction (i.e., parental alcohol-
ism added to the stress of family disharmony,
which in turn was associated with decreases in
adolescent life satisfaction). Indeed, research indi-
cates there is substantial transmission of mental
distress between parents and children, such that
parental distress affects the life satisfaction of
their child and a childs life satisfaction inuences
the happiness of their parent (Powdthavee and
Vignoles 2008). In a study of family risk factors
associated with adolescent pregnancy, Guijarro
et al. (1999) found life satisfaction and happiness
were higher among nonpregnant adolescents and
their families than among the pregnant adoles-
cents and their families. Further, pregnant adoles-
cents showed a higher level of depression and
sexual abuse than their nonpregnant peers,
whereas nonpregnant adolescents had higher aca-
demic achievement and future expectations than
their pregnant peers (Guijarro et al. 1999).
Quality of the immediate physical and social
environment has also been shown to be pertinent
to youth life satisfaction. For example, Homel and
Burns (1989) found that children residing in
poorly maintained houses and/or rented accom-
modation reported less overall satisfaction and
less happiness with their families than other chil-
dren. Moreover, children living on industrial or
Life Satisfaction 5
commercial streets reported lower life satisfaction
and expressed more unhappiness with their fami-
lies, than children living on residential streets
(Homel and Burns 1989). Similarly, Nickerson
and Nagle (2004) found parent and peer alienation
to be inversely related to adolescent living envi-
ronment satisfaction. Longitudinal examination
of rural adolescents from Americas Appalachian
region has revealed a variety of variables, includ-
ing (1) familys SES, community size, and marital
status, (2) perceived attainment in job and life
goals and self-esteem, and (3) perceived disparity
between job aspirations and job opportunities,
educational demands and educational aspirations,
desired residence and actual residence, and
desired children and actual number of children,
to be predictors of life satisfaction among eco-
nomically dispossessed Appalachian youth
(Wilson et al. 1997).
Educational Factors
School is the primary activity during childhood
and adolescence, and necessarily the classroom
environment plays a crucial role in the attainment
of life satisfaction. For example, recent research
conducted by Suldo and Huebner (2006) demon-
strated that the effect associated with support from
classmates was twice as large as support from
close friends, indicating the specicinuence of
the classroom environment on adolescent life sat-
isfaction. In related research, Froh et al. (2008)
have demonstrated requiring adolescents to list up
to ve things every day for which they were
grateful results in greater satisfaction with their
school experience than students in a control
group. Similarly, Gilman and Huebner (2006)
have shown extremely high life satisfaction to be
positively related to a positive attitude toward
school and teachers, grade point average, partici-
pation in structured extracurricular activities, and
interpersonal relations. Conversely, research
conducted within the United Kingdom suggests
that schools with an excessive focus on academic
test results negatively impact youth life satisfac-
tion (Marks 2004). Examination of special educa-
tion placement due to cognitive and learning
disabilities has revealed that students with mild
mental disabilities (MMD) who are in self-
contained special education settings have signi-
cantly higher school satisfaction than that of peers
with MMD who spend three or more hours in a
regular educational setting (Brantley et al. 2002).
Further results revealed that MMD students expe-
rience more dissatisfaction with their friendships,
but higher satisfaction with school than typically
achieving students (Brantley et al. 2002). Simi-
larly, a comparison of a group of deaf/hard-of-
hearing (D/HH) students educated in a segregated
residential setting with those attending day
schools revealed signicant differences in global
life satisfaction between the D/HH groups collec-
tively and the non-D/HH group, with the D/HH
group reporting both lower global and domain-
specic life satisfaction. Further, the D/HH resi-
dential group reported signicantly lower living
environment satisfaction than the D/HH day
school group, whereas no differences were found
between the D/HH day school group and the non-
D/HH group. In contrast, Ash and Huebner (1998)
explored the well-being of a group of academi-
cally gifted students and found no differences in
global or domain-specic life satisfaction
between this group and normally achieving stu-
dents. However, results did suggest that gifted
students determined their global life satisfaction
differently than non-gifted students. Specically,
living environment and school satisfaction were
the strongest unique contributors for gifted stu-
dents, whereas self- and family satisfaction were
the strongest unique contributors for non-gifted
students, with school satisfaction serving as the
weakest overall contributor for this group (Ash
and Huebner 1998). Comparative differences in
school satisfaction ratings have also been found
among cross-cultural comparisons of adolescent
life satisfaction. For example, Liu et al. (2005)
found that Chinese students scored higher on the
dimensions of friends, school, and general life
satisfaction than American students. Similarly,
Park and Huebner (2005) compared the life satis-
faction reports of Korean and American students
and found that Korean students reported lower life
satisfaction than their American counterparts. The
greatest differences were found in the self and
school domains, with Korean students reporting
signicantly less satisfaction in the self-domain
6 Life Satisfaction
and Americans reporting less satisfaction in the
school domain.
Indeed, school and the classroom environment
are an ideal place for initiatives that foster life
satisfaction and well-being. For example, research
has demonstrated the benets of encouraging ado-
lescents to participate in activities that facilitate
ow”–a mental state in which the challenge of
an activity matches the skill required
(Csikszentmihalyi 2002). The ow state has
been linked to academic success, reduced delin-
quency, physical health, and life satisfaction
(Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi 2002). Simi-
larly, academic achievement and life satisfaction
have consistently been positively linked to partic-
ipation in structured extracurricular activities (see
Gilman et al. 2004; Suldo et al. 2006 for reviews).
Research has also demonstrated the benets of
grateful and engaged living on levels of life satis-
faction and additionally a host of positive aca-
demic, social, and psychological outcomes, such
as increased positive affect, self-esteem, grade
point average, and hope (2010a,b). In accordance
with these ndings, a positive link has been found
between life satisfaction and employment experi-
ence and nding purpose in life. For example,
ndings reported by Hirschi (2009) demonstrate
the benets to life satisfaction and career adapt-
ability through vocational education and social
support that enables work experience. Similarly,
research by OBrien (1994) found that employed
youth have higher life satisfaction and greater
commitment to values than unemployed youth.
Indeed, research by Bronk et al. (2009) revealed
that having an identied purpose in life was asso-
ciated with greater life satisfaction during adoles-
cence (see also Bronk and Finch 2010).
Sociocultural Factors
Recently attention has begun to focus on the psy-
chological well-being of immigrant youth and the
acculturation of ethnic minorities. For example,
Bradley and Corwyn (2004) found that marital
status was the most consistent family context pre-
dictor of life satisfaction among ve divergent
sociocultural groups of adolescents of
non-European descent living in America. Simi-
larly, Leung et al. (2006) examined the
psychological adaptation and autonomy among
three immigrant Asian groups living in Australia
and found that successful adaptation could be
explained by migration circumstances (i.e., vol-
untary or refugee), cultural differences (e.g.,
emphasis on education), and the ability of the
cultural group to support the adolescent (e.g.,
presence of preexisting English-speaking immi-
grant community). Liebkind and Jasinskaja-Lahti
(2000) investigated the effects of acculturation on
the psychological well-being of immigrant ado-
lescents in Finland from the former Soviet Union,
Turkey, Somalia, and Vietnam and found that
perceived discrimination increased acculturative
stress and behavioral symptoms and reduced life
satisfaction and self-esteem, whereas perceived
parental support, acceptance of parental authority,
and length of residence increased life satisfaction
among these groups. In Israel, Hofman et al.
(1982) found Jewish adolescents to have higher
life satisfaction than their Arab peers. In America,
Constantine et al. (2006) found that the life satis-
faction among African-American girls was posi-
tively related to adherence to Africentric values
and self-esteem, but not to perceived social sup-
port satisfaction. Moreover, perceptions of dis-
crimination have been demonstrated to be linked
to low life satisfaction, self-esteem, and depres-
sive symptoms among this group (Seaton et al.
2010,2008). In contrast, in Canada, markedly
higher life satisfaction was found among adoles-
cent from noneconomically motivated immigrant
families from Hong Kong reporting positive expe-
rience making friends with Canadians (Chow
2007), whereas in a cross-cultural study, Tanaka
et al. (2005) found that Japanese students report
higher numbers of physical and psychiatric symp-
toms, less happiness, and more stressful life
events, and considerably lower levels of life sat-
isfaction than Swedish adolescents.
Conclusion
Adolescent life satisfaction is a key variable in the
attainment of psychological well-being during
youth and, as evidenced from the research litera-
ture, is positively related to a broad spectrum of
Life Satisfaction 7
desirable psychological, social, behavioral, and
health-related variables. Current shifts within psy-
chology away from an almost exclusive focus on
the disease model of mental health have led to an
increase in examinations of quality of life among
youths. The literature clearly provides evidence to
support conceptualizations of life satisfaction as
more than just an outcome of positive psycholog-
ical states. Indeed, recent research supports the
role of life satisfaction as an inuential predictor
of various psychosocial variables such as depres-
sion and poor physical health (Lewinsohn et al.
1991; Zullig et al. 2005). Overall, promotion of
the conditions fostering positive levels of life sat-
isfaction among adolescents cannot be under-
stated. Life satisfaction is not only a
psychological strength that can act to protect ado-
lescents from the harmful effects of environmen-
tal and social stressors but also the key cognitive
mechanism through which subjective and psycho-
logical well-being is attained. As an individual
cognitive variable, life satisfaction manifests itself
in the social environment. Adolescents with high
life satisfaction are generally more extroverted,
agreeable, and social, have more satisfying rela-
tionships, participate in greater numbers of struc-
tured extracurricular activities, are healthier, and
benet from increased academic success and
school satisfaction. Conversely, those suffering
from low life satisfaction are at risk of poor mental
and physical health and are more prone to exter-
nalizing and internalizing behavior problems, vio-
lence, and aggression and psychopathological
conditions, such as neuroticism, depression, and
anxiety. Future research in this area should con-
tinue to seek out and identify the causal pathways
that will provide insight into the relationships
between the environment, personality, and life
satisfaction. This valuable knowledge may then
be applied to the development of strategies aimed
at increasing life satisfaction among those who
fall below normative levels. In line with the cur-
rent zeitgeist, our focus should be on the building
of strength, as opposed to the repairing of damage
(i.e., prevention as opposed to treatment). Adoles-
cent life satisfaction is one such strength and the
key indicator of well-being among youths.
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12 Life Satisfaction
... The evidence suggests that life satisfaction is associated with a wide variety of positive psychological outcomes while protecting against the emergence of risk factors (Proctor et al., 2017). Conversely, low life satisfaction levels in adolescents have been associated with the appearance of externalizing and internalizing behaviors, risky and problematic behaviors that may affect mental health and development (Guzmán et al., 2020). ...
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This study explored relationships between selected substance abuse behaviors and perceived life satisfaction among 2,138 public middle school students in a southern state. The Middle School Youth Risk Behavior Survey substance use and life satisfaction variables were utilized from a cross-sectional study. Logistic regression models were created separately for four race/gender categories (white females, black females, white males, and black males) to examine associations among selected drug variables (tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and inhalants) and perceived life satisfaction. Analyses were adjusted for socioeconomic status. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated to assess the magnitude of association among the variables of interest. Findings suggest that reduced life satisfaction is associated with cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco use, cigar smoking, alcohol, marijuana and inhalant use as young as middle school age for specific race/gender groups, controlling for socioeconomic status. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether dissatisfaction with life is a determinant or consequence of substance abuse behavior for middle school adolescents and the psychosocial mechanisms that account for the relationships.