Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 2367–2383 | Cite as

Hope as Mediator Between Teacher–Student Relationships and Life Satisfaction Among Chinese Adolescents: A Between- and Within-Person Effects Analysis

  • Qian Nie
  • Zhaojun TengEmail author
  • George G. Bear
  • Cheng Guo
  • Yanling Liu
  • Dajun ZhangEmail author
Research Paper


Life satisfaction is a critical indicator of student development. Although several longitudinal studies have examined the predictors of life satisfaction, this study has several unique strengths. First, it examines hope (i.e., a positive motivation and power for success and happiness) as a possible mediator variable. Second, it separates between-person effects (i.e., people with hope perceive higher life satisfaction than those who are less hope) and within-person effects (i.e., a person with hope perceives higher life satisfaction over time). Participants were 1108 Chinese adolescents aged 14–18 years (M = 15.89, SD = 0.68, 57.7% boys). Multilevel statistical models were used to disaggregate between- and within-person effects. Results showed that teacher–student relationships were positively associated with hope and life satisfaction and that hope was positively associated with life satisfaction. These associations were significant both at one point in time (between-person effect) and over time (within-person effect). Moreover, at both the between- and within-person levels hope was found to be a significant mediator of the association between teacher–student relationships and life satisfaction. That is, within a given individual, a more favorable perceived teacher–student relationship at a given time point was a significant positive predictor of hope for that individual, and in turn, hope was associated with significantly greater life satisfaction at that particular time point. Identification of hope as an explanatory mechanism in the association between teacher–student relationships and life satisfaction in Chinese adolescents provides a potential target for interventions to improve students’ well-being.


Teacher–student relationship Hope Life satisfaction Between-person effects Within-person effects 



This study was supported by the Chongqing Special Postdoctoral Science Foundation (XmT2018010) and the fund of the Cultivation of Behavioral Habits in Elementary Middle and High School Students project at Tongnan District (2014-WT-06). We appreciate the support and help of the Tongnan Education Commission. We would also like to acknowledge three anonymous reviewers for their critical and detailed reviews during the review process.


  1. Aguinis, H., Beaty, J. C., Boik, R. J., & Pierce, C. A. (2005). Effect size and power in assessing moderating effects of categorical variables using multiple regression: A 30-year review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 94–107.Google Scholar
  2. Ahnert, L., Harwardt-Heinecke, E., Kappler, G., Eckstein-Madry, T., & Milatz, A. (2012). Student–teacher relationships and classroom climate in first grade: How do they relate to students’ stress regulation? Attachment and Human Development, 14(3), 249–263.Google Scholar
  3. Bailey, T. C., Eng, W., Frisch, M. B., & Snyder, C. R. (2007). Hope and optimism as related to life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(3), 168–175.Google Scholar
  4. Bear, G. G., Yang, C., Chen, D., He, X., Xie, J.-S., & Huang, X. (2018). Differences in school climate and student engagement in China and the United States. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(2), 323–335.Google Scholar
  5. Bear, G. G., Yang, C., Glutting, J., Huang, X., He, X., Zhang, W., et al. (2015). Teacher- student relationships, student-student relationships, and conduct problems in China and the US. Journal of International School and Educational Psychology, 2(4), 247–260.Google Scholar
  6. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Chan, K. L., & Chan, C. L. (2005). Chinese culture, social work education and research. International Social Work, 48(4), 381–389.Google Scholar
  8. Cotton Bronk, K., Hill, P. L., Lapsley, D. K., Talib, T. L., & Finch, H. (2009). Purpose, hope, and life satisfaction in three age groups. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6), 500–510.Google Scholar
  9. Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2011). The disaggregation of within-person and between-person effects in longitudinal models of change. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 583–619.Google Scholar
  10. Danielsen, A. G., Samdal, O., Hetland, J., & Wold, B. (2009). School-related social support and students’ perceived life satisfaction. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(4), 303–320.Google Scholar
  11. Diener, E., & Chan, M. Y. (2011). Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(1), 1–43.Google Scholar
  12. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (2009). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. In: E. Diener (Ed.), Culture and well-being. Social Indicators Research Series (vol 38, pp. 71–91). Dordrecht: Springer. Scholar
  13. Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, R., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.Google Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Inglehart, R., & Tay, L. (2013). Theory and validity of life satisfaction scales. Social Indicators Research, 112(3), 497–527.Google Scholar
  15. Dumitrache, C. G., Windle, G., & Herrera, R. R. (2015). Do social resources explain the relationship between optimism and life satisfaction in community-dwelling older people? Testing a multiple mediation model. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(3), 633–654.Google Scholar
  16. Gustavson, K., Røysamb, E., Borren, I., Torvik, F. A., & Karevold, E. (2016). Life satisfaction in close relationships: Findings from a longitudinal study. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(3), 1293–1311.Google Scholar
  17. Halama, P. (2010). Hope as a mediator between personality traits and life satisfaction. Studia Psychologica, 52(4), 309–314.Google Scholar
  18. Hannum, E., Kong, P., & Zhang, Y. (2009). Family sources of educational gender inequality in rural china: a critical assessment. International Journal of Educational Development, 29(5), 474–486.Google Scholar
  19. Hayes, C. T., & Weathington, B. L. (2007). Optimism, stress, life satisfaction, and job burnout in restaurant managers. The Journal of Psychology, 141(6), 565–579.Google Scholar
  20. Hoffman, L. (2015). Longitudinal analysis: Modeling within-person fluctuation and change. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Hoffman, L., & Stawski, R. S. (2009). Persons as contexts: Evaluating between-person and within-person effects in longitudinal analysis. Research in Human Development, 6(2–3), 97–120.Google Scholar
  22. Hui, E. K., & Sun, R. C. (2010). Chinese children’s perceived school satisfaction: The role of contextual and intrapersonal factors. Educational Psychology, 30(2), 155–172.Google Scholar
  23. Jeličić, H., Phelps, E., & Lerner, R. M. (2009). Use of missing data methods in longitudinal studies: The persistence of bad practices in developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 1195–1199.Google Scholar
  24. Jiang, X. U., Huebner, E. S., & Hills, K. J. (2013). Parent attachment and early adolescents’ life satisfaction: The mediating effect of hope. Psychology in the Schools, 50(4), 340–352.Google Scholar
  25. Kong, F., Ding, K., & Zhao, J. (2015). The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(2), 477–489.Google Scholar
  26. Kong, F., & You, X. (2013). Loneliness and self-esteem as mediators between social support and life satisfaction in late adolescence. Social Indicators Research, 110(1), 271–279.Google Scholar
  27. Ling, Y., Huebner, E. S., Fu, P., Zeng, Y., & He, Y. (2016). A person-oriented analysis of hope in Chinese adolescent. Personality and Individual Differences, 101, 446–450.Google Scholar
  28. Little, R. J., & Rubin, D. B. (2014). Statistical analysis with missing data (Vol. 333). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  29. Marques, S. C., Lopez, S. J., Fontaine, A. M., Colmbra, S., & Mitchell, J. (2015). How much hope is enough? Levels of hope and students’ psychological and school functioning. Psychology in the Schools, 52(4), 325–334.Google Scholar
  30. Marques, S. C., Lopez, S. J., & Mitchell, J. (2013). The role of hope, spirituality and religious practice in adolescents’ life satisfaction: Longitudinal findings. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(1), 251–261.Google Scholar
  31. Marques, S. C., Lopez, S. J., & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L. (2011). “Building hope for the future”: A program to foster strengths in middle-school students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(1), 139–152.Google Scholar
  32. Milevsky, A., Schlechter, M., Netter, S., & Keehn, D. (2007). Maternal and paternal parenting styles in adolescents: Associations with self-esteem, depression and life-satisfaction. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16(1), 39–47.Google Scholar
  33. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus Version 7 user’s guide. Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  34. Nation, M., Vieno, A., Perkins, D. D., & Santinello, M. (2008). Bullying in school and adolescent sense of empowerment: An analysis of relationships with parents, friends, and teachers. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 18(3), 211–232.Google Scholar
  35. Nurmi, J. E. (2012). Students’ characteristics and teacher–child relationships in instruction: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 7(3), 177–197.Google Scholar
  36. O’Connor, E. (2010). Teacher–child relationships as dynamic systems. Journal of School Psychology, 48(3), 187–218.Google Scholar
  37. Padilla-Walker, L. M., Hardy, S. A., & Christensen, K. J. (2011). Adolescent hope as a mediator between parent-child connectedness and adolescent outcomes. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 31(6), 853–879.Google Scholar
  38. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol. 1). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Pianta, R. C. (1999). Enhancing relationships between children and teachers. Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  40. Preacher, K. J., Zyphur, M. J., & Zhang, Z. (2010). A general multilevel SEM framework for assessing multilevel mediation. Psychological Methods, 15(3), 209–233.Google Scholar
  41. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(5), 583–630.Google Scholar
  42. Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (Vol. 1). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Roorda, D. L., Koomen, H. M., Spilt, J. L., & Oort, F. J. (2011). The influence of affective teacher–student relationships on students’ school engagement and achievement: A meta-analytic approach. Review of Educational Research, 81(4), 493–529.Google Scholar
  44. Rustøen, T., Cooper, B. A., & Miaskowski, C. (2010). The importance of hope as a mediator of psychological distress and life satisfaction in a community sample of cancer patients. Cancer Nursing, 33(4), 258–267.Google Scholar
  45. Shek, D. T., & Li, X. (2016). Perceived school performance, life satisfaction, and hopelessness: A 4-year longitudinal study of adolescents in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 126(2), 921–934.Google Scholar
  46. Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (2003). Applied longitudinal data analysis: Modeling change and event occurrence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Snyder, C. R., Cheavens, J., & Sympson, S. C. (1997). Hope: An individual motive for social commerce. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1(2), 107–118.Google Scholar
  48. Snyder, C. R., Lopez, S. J., Shorey, H. S., Rand, K. L., & Feldman, D. B. (2003). Hope theory, measurements, and applications to school psychology. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 122–139.Google Scholar
  49. Snyder, C. R., Rand, K. L., & Sigmon, D. R. (2005). Hope theory: A member of the positive psychology family. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 257–278). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Song, L., Appleton, S., & Knight, J. (2006). Why do girls in rural china have lower school enrollment? World Development, 34(9), 1639–1653.Google Scholar
  51. Suldo, S. M., Riley, K. N., & Shaffer, E. J. (2006). Academic correlates of children and adolescents’ life satisfaction. School Psychology International, 27(5), 567–582.Google Scholar
  52. Suldo, S. M., Savage, J. A., & Mercer, S. H. (2014). Increasing middle school students’ life satisfaction: Efficacy of a positive psychology group intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(1), 19–42.Google Scholar
  53. Swami, V., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Sinniah, D., Maniam, T., Kannan, K., Stanistreet, D., et al. (2007). General health mediates the relationship between loneliness, life satisfaction and depression. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 42(2), 161–166.Google Scholar
  54. Twenge, J. M., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2002). Age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and birth cohort differences on the children’s depression inventory: A meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(4), 578–588.Google Scholar
  55. Valle, M. F., Huebner, E. S., & Suldo, S. M. (2004). Further evaluation of the children’s hope scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 22(4), 320–337.Google Scholar
  56. Wang, M. T., Brinkworth, M., & Eccles, J. (2013). Moderating effects of teacher–student relationship in adolescent trajectories of emotional and behavioral adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 49(4), 690–705.Google Scholar
  57. Wang, L. P., & Maxwell, S. E. (2015). On disaggregating between-person and within-person effects with longitudinal data using multilevel models. Psychological Methods, 20(1), 63–83.Google Scholar
  58. Wei, J. (2015). Relationship between social support and life satisfaction in left behind children: Multiple mediation effects of hope and coping style. Chinese Mental Health Journal (in Chinese), 29(5), 361–365.Google Scholar
  59. Xie, J., Lv, Y., Kun, M., Lu, X., Bear, G. G., Yang, C., et al. (2016). The validity and reliability of the Chinese version of Delaware School Climate Survey: Student. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology (in Chinese), 24(2), 250–253.Google Scholar
  60. Xiong, C., & Xu, Y. (2009). Reliability and validity of the satisfaction with life scale for Chinese demos. China Journal of Health Psychology (in Chinese), 17(8), 948–949.Google Scholar
  61. Zhao, B., & Sun, Y. (2011). Reliability and validity of Chinese version of the Children’s Hope Scale. Chinese Mental Health Journal (in Chinese), 25(6), 454–459.Google Scholar
  62. Zullig, K. J., Huebner, E. S., & Patton, J. M. (2011). Relationships among school climate domains and school satisfaction. Psychology in the Schools, 48(2), 133–145.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center of Mental Health Education, Faculty of PsychologySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations