Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 463–484 | Cite as

The College Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire: A Brief, Multidimensional Measure of Undergraduate’s Covitality

Research Paper


This study reports on the preliminary development and validation of the College Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (CSSWQ) with two subsamples of undergraduates. The CSSWQ is a brief, multidimensional, domain-specific measure of college students’ covitality—operationalized by a measurement model comprised of four first-order latent constructs (i.e., academic efficacy, college gratitude, school connectedness, and academic satisfaction) and one second-order latent construct (i.e., college student covitality). Results from exploratory factor analyses, conducted with the first subsample (n = 387), were used to refine a 15-item, four-subscale version of the CSSWQ, which demonstrated strong internal consistency and concurrent validity with several global indicators of subjective wellbeing. Results from confirmatory factor analyses, conducted with the second subsample (n = 584), corroborated the CSSWQ’s four-factor structure and supported the second-order latent construct of college-student covitality. Further concurrent validity analyses conducted with the second subsample, using latent-variable path analysis, indicated that the college-student covitality variable was a strong predictor of both psychological distress and psychological wellness. Analysis of variance also indicated that, when compared with global covitality status (i.e., below average, low average, high average, or above average), college-student covitality status had a stronger effect and thus incremental validity in relation to academic achievement. Implications for theory, research, and practice are discussed.


Subjective wellbeing Positive psychology Covitality Mental health 


  1. Antony, M. M., Bieling, P. J., Cox, B. J., Enns, M. W., & Swinson, R. P. (1998). Psychometric properties of the 42-item and 21-item versions of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) in clinical groups and a community sample. Psychological Assessment, 10, 176–181. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.10.2.176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blanco, C., Okunda, M., Wright, C., Hasin, D. S., Grant, B. F., Liu, S.-M., & Olfson, M. (2008). Mental health of college students and their non-college-attending peers. Archives of General Psychiatry, 65, 1429–1437. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.65.12.1429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2004). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): Construct validity, measurement properties and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 245–265. doi: 10.1348/0144665031752934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Curry, L. A., Snyder, C. R., Cook, D. L., Ruby, B. C., & Rehm, M. (1997). The role of hope in academic and sports achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1257–1267. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.73.6.1257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dowdy, E., Ritchey, K., & Kamphaus, R. W. (2010). School-based screening: A population-based approach to inform and monitor children’s mental health needs. School Mental Health, 2, 166–176. doi: 10.1007/s12310-010-9036-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duckworth, A. L., Kirby, T. A., Tsukayama, E., Berstein, H., & Ericsson, K. A. (2010). Deliberate practice spells success: Why grittier competitors triumph at the National Spelling Bee. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 174–181. doi: 10.1177/1948550610385872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1087–1101. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duckworth, A. L., & Quinn, P. D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (Grit-S). Journal of Personality Assessment, 91, 166–174. doi: 10.1080/00223890802634290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eklund, K., Dowdy, E., Jones, C., & Furlong, M. J. (2011). Applicability of the dual-factor model of mental health for college students. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 25, 79–92. doi: 10.1080/87568225.2011.532677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Erdogan, B., Bauer, T. N., Truxillo, D. M., & Mansfield, L. R. (2012). Whistle while you work: A review of the life satisfaction literature. Journal of Management, 38, 1038–1083. doi: 10.1177/0149206311429379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feldman, D. B., & Dreher, D. E. (2012). Can hope be changed in 90 minutes? Testing the efficacy of a single-session goal-pursuit intervention for college students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 745–759. doi: 10.1007/s10902-011-9292-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman, T. M., Anderman, L. H., & Jensen, J. M. (2007). Sense of belonging in college freshman at the classroom and campus levels. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75, 203–220. doi: 10.3200/JEXE.75.3.203-220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frisby, B. N., & Martin, M. M. (2010). Instructor–student and student–student rapport in the classroom. Communication Education, 59, 146–164. doi: 10.1080/03634520903564362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Furlong, M. J., You, S., Renshaw, T. L., O’Malley, M. D., & Rebelez, J. (2013). Preliminary development of the Positive Experiences at School Scale for elementary school children. Child Indicators Research, 6, 753–775. doi: 10.1007/s12187-013-9193-7.
  17. Furlong, M. J., You, S., Renshaw, T. L., Smith, D. C., & O’Malley, M. D. (2014). Preliminary development and validation of the Social and Emotional Health Survey for secondary students. Social Indicators Research, 117, 1011–1032. doi: 10.1007/s11205-013-0373-0. (Advanced online publication).
  18. Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30, 79–90. doi: 10.1002/1520-6807(199301)30:1<79:AID-PITS2310300113>3.0.CO;2-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2010). Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40, 218–227. doi: 10.1007/s12160-010-9210-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Henry, J. D., & Crawford, J. R. (2005). The short-form version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS–21): Construct validity and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 227–239. doi: 10.1348/014466505X29657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones, C. N., You, S., & Furlong, M. J. (2013). A preliminary examination of covitality as integrated well-being in college students. Social Indicators Research, 111, 511–526. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0017-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kleiman, E. M., Adams, L. M., Kashdan, T. B., & Riskind, J. H. (2013). Gratitude and grit indirectly reduce risk of suicidal ideations by enhancing meaning in life: Evidence for a mediated moderation model. Journal of Research in Personality, 47, 539–546. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2013.04.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lyubomirksy, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46, 137–155. doi: 10.1023/A:1006824100041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lyubomirsky, S., Dickerhoof, R., Boehm, J. K., & Sheldon, K. M. (2011). Becoming happier takes both a will and a proper way: An experimental longitudinal intervention to boost well-being. Emotion, 11, 391–402. doi: 10.1037/a0022575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maddux, J. E., & Meier, L. J. (1995). Self-efficacy and depression. In J. E. Maddux (Ed.), Self-efficacy, adaption, and adjustment: Theory, research, and application (pp. 143–169). New York, NY: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112–127. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.82.1.112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCullough, M. E., Tsang, J., & Emmons, R. A. (2004). Gratitude in intermediate affective terrain: Links of grateful moods to individual differences and daily emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 295–309. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mueller, R. O., & Hancock, G. R. (2008). Best practices in structural equation modeling. In J. Osborne (Ed.), Best practices in quantitative methods (pp. 488–508). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Page, A. C., Hooke, G. R., & Morrison, D. L. (2007). Psychometric properties of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) in depressed clinical samples. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 46, 283–297. doi: 10.1348/014466506X158996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.5.2.164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pavot, W., Diener, C., Colvin, R., & Sandvik, E. (1991). Further validation of the Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidence for the cross-method convergence of well-being measures. Journal of Personality Assessment, 57, 149–161. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa5701_17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 879–903. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.5.879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Putwain, D., Sander, P., & Larkin, D. (2013). Academic self-efficacy in study-related skills and behaviours: Relations with learning-related emotions and academic success. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 633–650. doi: 10.1111/j.2044.8279.2012.02084.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Renshaw, T. L., & Cohen, A. S. (2014). Life satisfaction as a distinguishing indicator of college student functioning: Further validation of the two-continua model of mental health. Social Indicators Research, 117, 319–334. doi: 10.1007/s11205-013-0342-7. (Advanced online publication).
  36. Renshaw, T. L., Furlong, M. J., Dowdy, E., Rebelez, J., Smith, D. C., O’Malley, M. D., et al. (2014a). Covitality: A synergistic conception of youths’ mental health. In M. J. Furlong, R. Gilman, & E. S. Huebner (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in the schools (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Renshaw, T. L., Long, A. C. J., & Cook, C. R. (2014b). Assessing adolescents’ positive psychological functioning at school: Development and validation of the Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire. School Psychology Quarterly,. doi: 10.1037/spq0000088. (Advanced online publication).Google Scholar
  38. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 353–387. doi: 10.1037/a0026838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Russell, D. W. (1996). UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3): Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 20–40. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa6601_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Russell, D., Peplau, L. A., & Cutrona, C. E. (1980). The revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: Concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 472–480. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.39.3.472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scales, P. C. (1999). Reducing risks and building developmental assets: Essential actions for promoting adolescent health. Journal of School Health, 69, 113–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1999.tb07219.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 4, 219–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scholz, U., Gutiérrez Doña, B., Sud, S., & Schwarzer, R. (2002). Is general self-efficacy a universal construct? Psychometric findings from 25 countries. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 18, 242–251. doi: 10.1027//1015-5759.18.3.242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schwarzer, R., Bäßler, J., Kwiatek, P., Schörder, K., & Xin Zhang, J. (1997). The assessment of optimistic self-beliefs: Comparsion of the German, Spanish, and Chinese versions of the General Self-Efficacy Scale. Applied Psychology, 46, 69–88. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.1997.tb01096.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Seligman, M. E. P., Ernost, R., Gillham, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35, 293–311. doi: 10.1080/03054980902934563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Seligman, M. E. P., & Peterson, C. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.Google Scholar
  47. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. You, S., Furlong, M. J., Dowdy, E., Renshaw, T. L., Smith, D. C., & O’Malley, M. D. (2013). Further validation of the Social and Emotional Health Survey for high school students. Applied Research in Quality of Life,. doi: 10.1007/s11482-013-9282-2. (Advanced online publication).Google Scholar
  49. Zivin, K., Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., & Golberstein, E. (2009). Persistence of mental health problems and needs in a college student population. Journal of Affective Disorders, 117, 180–185. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.01.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations