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Relationship between Stress and Happiness in Middle School Students: Dual Mediation Effect of Growth Mindset and Self-Esteem

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  • Hanseo University, Seosan, Korea

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Background/Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate the dual mediation effect of growth mindset and self-esteem on the relationship between stress and happiness of 467 middle school students. Methods/Statistical analysis: For data analysis, SPSS Win.21.0 and SPSS MACRO process were used. Reliability analysis, descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, mean comparison analysis, path analysis, and bias correction bootstrap analysis were performed. Findings: Results of the study are as follows. First, stress had negative correlations with growth mind, selfesteem, and happiness. However, growth mindset was positively correlated with self-esteem and happiness. Second, results of macro PROCESS analysis showed that stress negatively affected growth mindset, selfesteem, and happiness. Growth mindset had positive effect on self-esteem and happiness. Self-esteem also had positive effect on happiness. Third, bootstrap analysis showed that stress affected happiness through a dual mediated pathway of growth mindset and self-esteem. Improvements/Applications: Results of this study could be used to improve happiness of students through reducing stress, improving growth mindset, and increasing self-esteem.
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ISSN-0971-720X (Print)ISSN-0973-1283 (Electronic)
Volume 18 Number 1 January-June 2018



12
1Research Scholar, Department of Lifelong Education, 2Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent
Welfare, Hanseo University, 31962Korea

 The objective of this study was to investigate the dual mediation eect of growth
mindset and self-esteem on the relationship between stress and happiness of 467 middle school students.
 For data analysis, SPSS Win.21.0 and SPSS MACRO process were used.
Reliability analysis, descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, mean comparison analysis, path analysis, and
bias correction bootstrap analysis were performed.
Results of the study are as follows. First, stress had negative correlations with growth mind, self-
esteem, and happiness. However, growth mindset was positively correlated with self-esteem and happiness.
Second, results of macro PROCESS analysis showed that stress negatively aected growth mindset, self-
esteem, and happiness. Growth mindset had positive eect on self-esteem and happiness. Self-esteem also
had positive eect on happiness. Third, bootstrap analysis showed that stress aected happiness through a
dual mediated pathway of growth mindset and self-esteem.
 Results of this study could be used to improve happiness of students through
reducing stress, improving growth mindset, and increasing self-esteem.
Keywords: Stress, Happiness, Growth mindset, self-esteem, Dual Mediation Eects, SPSS macro PROCESS

Chang Seek Lee
Professor,
Department of Child and Adolescent Welfare,
Hanseo University, 31962Korea
Phone: +82-10-2460-1246
E-mail: lee1246@hanmail.net

Happiness is both the greatest goal of life and the
standard of self-evaluation for human. Happiness has
started from ancient philosophy. It has been actively
studied in the eld of social science recently. Happiness
is mixed with terms such as well-being, psychological
well-being, subjective well-being, satisfaction, and
quality of life. Denition of happiness varies according
to elds and perspectives of researchers. Happiness is
a subjective assessment of an individual’s life 1. It is a
subjective expression of how happy a person is in his
daily life2. This denition has the same meaning as
subjective wellbeing because happiness is best known
to oneself. It cannot be objectively evaluated by others.
Studies on happiness have been mainly focused on
adults3. However, it is necessary to pay attention to the
happiness of adolescents because adolescence is the
period when self-identity is formed. Adolescence is
also the period with rapid physical and mental growth.
Experience of happiness during this period can have
profound impact on their lives in the future4.
Self-esteem is a typical variable that can increase
happiness. Self-esteem is the degree of self-respect, and
of considering oneself being worth, and is a positive or
negative evaluation of self5. It is dened as the degree
to which one believes in his or her own ability, success,
and value 6. Several research studies have shown that
self-esteem and happiness have positive relationships
7,8,9.Therefore, self-esteem of youth might have positive
eect on happiness.
Medico-legal Update, January-June 2018, Vol.18, No. 1 249
On the other hand, positive psychology can lead
to the emergence of various positive psychological
variables related with human beings, including
happiness. Growth mindset as a new causal variable
of happiness and success is gaining popularity among
researchers. Based on brain science theory, growth
mindset is a belief that intelligence is malleable.
Therefore, mindset can be changed through eort 10.
Abilities of human beings can be explained by two
theories: entity theory and incremental theory 11 . With
the entity theory, it is believed that human beings have
xed mindset. It believes that intelligence is xed and
congenital. Eort cannot change intelligence. With the
incremental theory also known as the growth mindset, it
is believed that intelligence is malleable and acquirable.
Eort can change it10. Growth mindset research is still
in its infancy. There is a lack of accumulated data.
However, it has been reported that growth mindset is
positively correlated with happiness12,13. Therefore,
growth mindset might aect happiness.
While self-esteem and growth mindset are variables
that can increase happiness, there are also variables that
can reduce happiness. Stress is a typical example that can
reduce happiness. Stress is a mental state when a worthy
goal is threatened or lost or when one cannot have the
environment to achieve his goal 14. A study has reported
that daily stress has negative eect on the happiness of
adolescents 15. The causal relationship between stress
and happiness of adolescents has been demonstrated
by previous studies 16,17. These studies have proved that
there is a close relationship between stress and happiness.
Therefore, the happiness of Korean adolescents who are
experiencing stresses from university entrance-oriented
educational environments might vary depending on their
perceived stress level.
Although self-esteem, growth mindset, and stress
have been found to have eects on happiness, no study
has reported the relationships among stress, growth
mindset, self-esteem, and happiness among adolescents.
In other words, we should concentrate on how youth
can feel happier and can have happier experiences. In
particular, Child Happiness Index 18and life satisfaction19
reports have shown that Korea has the lowest happiness
among OECD countries. For this reason, an empirical
study on role of variables such as growth mindset and
self-esteem in promoting happiness of Korean youth is
very urgent.
Therefore, the objective of this study was to
investigate the dual mediating eect of growth mindset
and self-esteem on the relationship between stress and
happiness in middle school students. To achieve this
goal, we have the following research questions: 1) What
is the relationship among stress, self-esteem, growth
mindset, and happiness? 2) What is the path coecient
between each variable? 3) Do growth mindset and self-
esteem have dual-mediating eect in the relationship
between stress and happiness?

 The main analytical method used in
this study was double-mediated eect analysis of model
6 of the MACRO process. The conceptual study model
is shown in [Figure 1].

       A
total of 467 students who attended D city middle school
in Chungcheongnam-do were enrolled for this study
survey. The survey was conducted for one month (from
April 15, 2016 to May 15, 2016). Regarding the general
characteristics of these survey subjects, there were 263
(56.3%) males and 204 (43.7%) females. A total of
296 (63.4%) students reported that ‘both parents were
working’. The remaining 171 (36.6%) students reported
that their parents were ‘not both working’. A total of
244 (51.3%) subjects answered that they have ‘normal
lives’. A total of 353 (75.6%) students were ‘living with
both parents’ while 52 (11.1%) students were living with
‘single parents’.

 To measure stress in adolescents, the Korean
Version of Brief Encounter Psychosocial Instrument
(BEPSI-K)20 was used. This instrument consisted of
5 items measured in 5-point Likert scale. The higher
the score, the higher the stress level. In this study, the
reliability of the stress scale had a Cronbach’s α value
of 0.881.
250 Medico-legal Update, January-June 2018, Vol.18, No. 1
 To measure happiness, the shortened happiness
scale developed by Seo et al.21 was used in this study. This
scale consisted of three items to measure the satisfaction of
individual aspects (personal accomplishment, personality,
health, etc.), relational aspects (such as relationships with
others), and collective aspects (my group-workplace,
community, etc.). These three items were measured in a
7-point Likert scale ranging from “not at all” (1 point) to
“very much” (7 points). In addition, six questions about
feelings during the past month were asked. They were
also evaluated with a 7-point Likert scale from ‘not agree
at all’ (1 point) to ‘agree very much’ (7 points). The higher
the score, the higher the level of happiness. The reliability
of the happiness scale used in this study had a Cronbach’s
α value of 0.873.
 The growth mind measure developed
by 10 and adapted by Lee et al.13 was used in this study.
This scale consisted of four items measuring beliefs about
intelligence change in and four items measuring beliefs
about personality change. These items were measured in
a 5-point Likert scale. The higher the score, the higher
the growth mindset. The reliability of this growth mindset
scale used in this study had a Cronbach’s α value of 0.796.
 Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) developed
by Rosenberg5was used in this study. This scale was
composed of 5 positive items and 5 negative items.
These items were measured with a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from ‘not at all’ (1 point) to ‘highly agree’ (5
points). The higher the score, the higher the self-esteem.
The reliability of this self-esteem scale used in this study
had a Cronbach’s α value of 0.840.
  In this study, SPSS Win. 21.0 and
SPSS macro PROCESS (http://www.afhayes.com)
proposed by Hayes 22 were used. For reliability analysis,
descriptive statistics, and correlation analysis, SPSS
Win. 21.0 was used. The SPSS macro protocol was used
to analyze dual-mediating eect. Indirective eect was
veried by bootstrapping analysis.

    Results of
Pearson’s correlation analysis to identify correlations
among variables are shown in [Table 1]. Stress was
found to have negative correlations with growth mindset,
self-esteem, and happiness. Growth mindset had
statistically signicant correlation with self-esteem and
happiness. Self-esteem and happiness had a correlation
coecient of 0.607. Growth mindset and self-esteem
had a correlation coecient of 0.365. Growth mindset
and happiness had a correlation coecient of 0.290.
Correlation coecients of growth mindset with other
variables ranged from -0.162 to -0.507. The correlation
coecient between self-esteem and happiness was
the highest. In other words, the higher the stress, the
lower the growth mindset, self-esteem, and happiness.
Happiness is increased when growth mindset and self-
esteem are higher. These results are consistent with
results of previous studies showing negative correlation
between self-esteem and stress23 but positive correlation
between self-esteem and subjective happiness24. It
has been reported that growth mindset has negative
correlation with parenting stress13.
Mean scores of stress in these students did not
exceed the median (3 points). However, scores of growth
mindset, self-esteem, and happiness in these students all
exceeded the median.

    M
Stress 1 2.6907 .99150
Growth mindset -.162** 1 3.4701 .68916
Self-esteem -.442** .365** 1 3.5459 .65275
Happiness -.507** .290** .607** 1 5.0549 1.16906
**p<.01
   Coecient of each path was veried
statistically. Stress negatively aected growth mindset
(β=-0.113, p < 0.001), self-esteem (β=-0.261, p < 0.001),
and happiness (β=-0.3462, p < 0.001). However, growth
mindset had statistically signicant eect on self-
esteem (β=0.282, p < 0.001) and happiness (β=0.135,
p < 0.05). Growth mindset had statistically signicant
eect on self-esteem (β=0.282, p < 0.001) and happiness
Medico-legal Update, January-June 2018, Vol.18, No. 1 251
(β=0.135, p < 0.05). Self-esteem also had statistically
signicant eect on happiness (β=0.793, p < 0.001).
This study is supported bysuch ndings that the daily
stress of children and adolescents negatively aects
happiness15, and the higher the self-esteem, the higher
the happiness25, and parents’ parenting stress has a
negativeimpact on the growth mindset13.
In order for growth mindset and self-esteem
to be established as mediators, both the eects of
independent variables on dependent variables and the
eects of independent variables on mediators should
be statistically signicant, and also when mediators
are added, the inuence of independent variables on
dependent variables must be reduced26,27.This study
showed that the eect of stress on happiness (β=-.346,
p<.001) was reduced when stress and happiness were
added (β=-.593, p <.001). Therefore, the relationship
between stress and happiness was mediated by the
growth mindset and self - esteem. [gure 2]

     Results of
bootstrapping analysis using SPSS macro PROCESS
to verify the double mediating eect of growth mindset
and self-esteem on the relationship between stress and
happiness are shown in [Table 2].
The SPSS macro developed by Preacher & Hayes
28 is useful for verifying multiple and dual-mediating
models by suggesting indirect path between independent
and dependent variables. It can elaborate the mediating
eect28,29,30.
In this study, 5,000 bootstrapping tests were
performed to determine whether there was a double
mediation eect of growth mindset and self-esteem on
the relationship between stress and happiness with 95%
condence interval (CI).
As shown in Table 2, the mediating eect size was
-0.2470 (95% CI: -0.3205 ~ -0.1816). There was no 0
in the 95.0% condence interval. Thus, the mediating
eect was signicant. As a result of simple mediating
eect, M1 (X → M1 → Y) was -0.0152 (95%CI: -0.0396
~ -0.0028) and M2 (X → M2 → Y). Since there was no
0 value in the condence interval of 95%, the mediating
eect was signicant.


 
s.e. 
Stress(X)
→ Growth
mindset(M1) →
Happiness(Y)
-.0152 .0088 -.0396 ~ -.0028
Stress(X) → Self-
esteem(M2) →
Happiness(Y)
-.2065 .0330 -.2751 ~ -.1466
Stress(X)
→ Growth
mindset(M1) →
Self-esteem(M2) →
Happiness(Y)
-.0253 .0097 -.0477 ~ -.0092
Total Indirect Eect -.2470 .0353 -.3205 ~ -.1816

This study was conducted to investigate the dual
mediating eect of self-esteem and growth mindset on
the relationship between stress and happiness among
middle school students. Results of this study are shown
below.
First, stress had negative correlations with growth
mindset, self-esteem, and happiness. Growth mindset
was positive correlated with self-esteem and happiness.
Second, as a result of macro PROCESS analysis,
stress negatively aected growth mindset, self-esteem,
and happiness. Growth mindset positively aected self-
esteem and happiness. Self-esteem had statistically
signicant eect on happiness.
Third, as a result of bootstrap analysis, growth
mindset and self-esteem had dual mediating eect on
the relationship between stress and happiness. In other
words, stress in middle school students directly aected
their happiness. It aected their happiness through a
dual mediating path of growth mindset and self-esteem.
252 Medico-legal Update, January-June 2018, Vol.18, No. 1
This study conrmed that eective mediators could
enhance the happiness of Korean adolescents. In order
to promote the happiness of the youth who will lead the
society in the future, it is necessary to develop and apply
an integrated program to improve their growth mindset
and self-esteem. This study has limitations in that
there is a lack of accumulation of previous studies. In
addition, it aimed at middle school students in one city in
Chungcheongnam-do. Nevertheless, this is meaningful
that the relationship between the stress and happiness
of middle school students revealed the double mediated
eect of growth mindset and self-esteem.
  Taken from Hanseo University
committee
 Self
 Nil

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... These results are consistent with the finding that stress in adolescents had a significant negative correlation with growth mindset and happiness 23 and there was a positive relationship between growth mindset and grit 24,14,15 . These results agree with another study which reported a statistically positive correlation between growth mindset and happiness 25,23 . ...
... These results are consistent with the finding that stress in adolescents had a significant negative correlation with growth mindset and happiness 23 and there was a positive relationship between growth mindset and grit 24,14,15 . These results agree with another study which reported a statistically positive correlation between growth mindset and happiness 25,23 . Moderated Mediation Verification: In order to verify whether grit moderated the mediating effect of growth mindset on the empathy, stress, and happiness of Korean college students, we analyzed the data using Model 7 of the PROCESS macro for SPSS proposed by Hayes 22 . ...
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... In addition, Wong et al. (2019), life's well-being and meaning were indirectly associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms through a positive association with perceived stress. First, as Hwang and Lee (2018) pointed out, stress was negatively correlated with growth spirit, self-esteem, and happiness. However, the spirit of growth had a positive correlation with self-esteem and happiness. ...
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... Cultivating a growth mindset is a good way to improve mental health, including anxiety reduction (Yeager et al., 2016). Recently, a study conclude that a growth mindset is positively related to happiness and self-esteem and negatively related to stress (Kyoung Hwang & Lee, 2018). Although few studies have directly demonstrated the relationship between mindsets and stress, the literature mentioned above suggests that mindsets may influence an individual's perception of stress by influencing the appraisal process and coping resources, because fixed mindset and growth mindset have different attitudes toward the obstacle, and failure (Dweck, 2006). ...
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