Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Correlates of Life Satisfaction in Adolescents

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Correlates of Life Satisfaction in Adolescents

Article excerpt

The field of positive psychology has reawakened empirical investigations into understanding how we achieve happiness and the 'good life'. This shift away from an almost exclusive emphasis on psychopathology to an increased emphasis on the positive end of the mental health spectrum has enabled researchers to investigate what makes life worth living (Fabricatore & Handal, 2000). Fundamental to the underlying mission of discovering how we achieve happiness is determining the way in which youth perceive their lives. The adolescents Life Satisfaction literature provides clear evidence to suggest that adolescents Life Satisfaction is more than just an outcome of various psychological states (e.g. positive affect, self-esteem), it is also an influential predictor of psychological states and psychosocial systems (e.g., depression, physical health) (Gilman et al., 2004a). Support for conceptualizations of Life Satisfaction as more than just an epiphenomenon can be found among recent research that has highlighted its role as a mediator and moderator between the environment and behaviour. In addition, there is an evidence to suggest that increased Life Satisfaction buffers against the negative effects of stress and the development of psychological disorder. For example, adolescents with positive Life Satisfaction have been demonstrated to be less likely to develop later externalizing behaviours as a result of stressful life events than adolescents with low Life Satisfaction, suggesting that Life Satisfaction acts as a moderator for (i.e. buffer against) externalizing behaviour (Suido & Huebner, 2004a).

Life satisfaction can be defined as an overall, cognitive evaluation of the quality of an individual's life in general or with important, specific domains such as satisfaction with work, marriage, school and other life areas (Diener, 1994; Myers & Diener, 1995; Zullig et al., 2005). Life satisfaction judgments are not absolute but rather based on an individual's evaluation of salient information. Information used by one person to evaluate her life satisfaction may be insignificant to another. Life satisfaction is thought to be moderated by the extent to which one's physical desires and one's psychological desires are met (Diener & Seligman, 2002). People use information from different areas to construct their judgments and also differ in the degree to which they evaluate their moods and emotions when calculating life satisfaction. Life satisfaction can therefore change from time to time (Snyder & Lopez, 2002). In contrast to this view are the findings of Oishi et al. (1999) who found that life satisfaction remains constant across time.

In general, positive evaluations of Life Satisfaction are linked with happiness and the achievement of the 'good life', whereas negative evaluations of Life Satisfaction are associated with depression and unhappiness. Moreover, healthy psychological states, such as happiness and Life Satisfaction, are often assumed to be the by-products of social and economic resources and success, despite research indicating a bidirectional relationship (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Indeed, cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental data have all shown that well-being and happiness can precede diverse positive personal, behavioural, psychological, and social outcomes (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), just as low Life Satisfaction and unhappiness can predict the onset of depression and psychological disorder up to two years prior to diagnosis (Lewinsohnetal., 1991).

Life satisfaction is an important construct in positive psychology (Gilman & Huebner, 2003). Measures of Life Satisfaction are sensitive to the entire spectrum of functioning, and thus, provide indicators of both well-being and psychopathology. This contrasts with traditional mental health scales that require respondents to indicate the presence or absence of problems, and rate existing problems according to frequency and symptoms, with no option of reporting the characteristics or presence of positive feelings or behaviours (Gilman & Huebner, 2003; Kamman et al. …

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