Increasing Middle School Students’ Life Satisfaction: Efficacy of a Positive Psychology Group Intervention
- 2.5k Downloads
This study identified middle school students who were less than delighted with their lives (reported life satisfaction scores between 1 and 6 on a 7-point scale), and attempted to improve these students’ mental health via a 10-week group wellness-promotion intervention developed from prior applications of positive psychology research. Complete data at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up was gathered from 55 sixth grade students who were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (n = 28) or wait-list control (n = 27). Repeated measures analyses of a propensity score matched sample of 40 participants indicated a significant group by time interaction for global life satisfaction from baseline to post-intervention. Specifically, life satisfaction of students in the intervention group increased significantly, while the control group declined during the same period (although this change was not statistically significant). The intervention group’s gains were maintained at follow-up, but were matched by similar gains for students in the control group. No effects of intervention group were identified in the indicators of affect or psychopathology. The improvements in life satisfaction evidenced by students in the intervention group during the first semester of middle school are important given the adjustment difficulties that often appear during this sensitive developmental period marked by biological and educational changes.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Life satisfaction Randomized control trial Adolescents Happiness interventions
This work was supported, in part, by the University of South Florida Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities. The authors of this manuscript would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following members of their university research team: Amanda Thalji-Raitano, Allison Friedrich, Tiffany Stewart, Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, and Dr. Ellis Gesten.
- Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms and profiles. Burlington, VA: University of Vermont.Google Scholar
- Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). The promise of sustainable happiness. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 667–677). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2009). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and life satisfaction. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 187–194). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kosanke, J., & Bergstralh, E. (2004a). Dist: Computes a distance matrix between a set of cases and a set of potential controls. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics. Retrieved from http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/biostat/sasmacros.cfm.
- Kosanke, J., & Bergstralh, E. (2004b). Vmatch: Match cases to controls using variable optimal matching. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics. Retrieved from http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/biostat/sasmacros.cfm.
- Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.Google Scholar
- Rashid, T., & Anjum, A. (2008). Positive psychotherapy for young adults and children. In J. R. Z. Abela & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Handbook of depression in children and adolescents (pp. 250–287). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. E. P. (1990). Learned optimism: How to change your mind and your life. New York: Random House, Inc.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- 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. 257–276). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.Google Scholar
- Suldo, S. M., & Shaffer, E. J. (2008). Looking beyond psychopathology: The dual-factor model of mental health in youth. School Psychology Review, 37, 52–68.Google Scholar
- Weisz, J. R., & Kazdin, A. E. (2010). Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar