The Journal of Positive PsychologyVol. 4, No. 2, March 2009, 128–144 Youth life satisfaction measures: a review Carmel Proctora*, P. Alex Linleyb and John Maltbya aSchool of Psychology, University of Leicester, UK; bCentre for Applied Positive Psychology, University of Warwick (Received 25 August 2008; final version received 6 January 2009) The burgeoning field of positive psychology has highlighted the need to discover what makes life worth living.
Within this framework is the exploration of how youths perceive their lives and achieve happiness. Recentresearch demonstrates that perception of life satisfaction (LS) among youths has important implications for theirpsychological, social, and educational functioning. An important part of understanding how youths perceivetheir lives is the incorporation of measurement of life satisfaction, and this article provides a review of the extantmeasures of youth life satisfaction. Following systematic literature searches, empirical studies (n ¼ 47) of youthLS measures are reviewed. The review provides an overview of each instrument outlining its normative samples,reliability, and validity. Recommended future research directions are briefly discussed.
Keywords: life satisfaction; youth; adolescents; measure; review; psychometric Accordingly, understanding the way in which youth For more than half a century, psychology has been a perceive their lives is fundamental discovering how science devoted to the accurate diagnosis and treat- youth achieve happiness. Insight into perceptions of ment of mental illness. Recently, however, the positive youths’ levels of life satisfaction (LS) has implications psychology movement has brought about paradigm for psychological, social, and educational functioning.
shifts that have caused increased attention away fromthe negative personal psychological effects of stressorsand events that make life miserable, towards positivity and the discovery of what makes life worth living.
The purpose of this paper is to review extant measures Exploration of positive characteristics including happi- of youth LS. Several scales have been developed which ness, life satisfaction, love, morality, altruism, spiri- purport to measure satisfaction among youth, however tuality, and goodness have recently expanded.
only a handful specifically provide an indication of Within the framework of positive psychology overall levels of satisfaction with life. To provide (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), lies the founda- context, a discussion of subjective well-being (SWB) tion for understanding and promoting positive youth and its relation to LS is presented, followed by a brief development (Park, 2004). Positive youth development discussion of LS models. Consistent with the review research focuses on developmental potential rather conducted by Gilman and Huebner (2000), the than deficiencies (Damon, 2004). Currently, numerous remainder of this review will provide an overview of research-based programs exist which are aimed at the each instrument outlining its normative sample(s), developmental potentialities of youths, and continued reliability (e.g., internal consistency and test–retest rigorous applied psychology is needed in this area reliability), and validity (e.g., construct, convergent, (Larson, 2000). An important part of this work and discriminant validity). It is the aim of this review includes the implementation of self-report measures to add to the existing literature by including all of subjective quality of life in the assessment and relevant measures of youth LS as gathered through evaluation of educational and social programs aimed specified systematic literature search strategies, thereby at promoting positive development among youths ensuring that recently developed instruments are not (Proctor, Linley, & Maltby, 2008). Research demon- overlooked. Further, this review aims to be a source of strates that life satisfaction is a key component in the reference for current youth LS measures and, thus, has attainment of positive mental health and is a deter- been organized so that each instrument is overviewed minant of many life outcomes (Proctor et al., 2008).
concisely and presented according to its underlying *Corresponding author. Email: clp17@le.ac.uk ISSN 1743–9760 print/ISSN 1743–9779 onlineß 2009 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/17439760802650816http://www.informaworld.com conceptual model (i.e., unidimensional, multidimen- a more differentiated assessment is required for sional). Overviews conclude with a brief summary of purposes of focused diagnostic, prevention, and inter- each measure and various limitations of each scale.
vention efforts, measures of multidimensional LS may Following the measures summaries, a brief discus- be required (Huebner, 2001). Nevertheless, the LS sion of recommended future research directions is construct incorporates the full range of satisfaction (i.e., from very low to very high) and thus measure-ment of this personal strength is fitting for a positivepsychological paradigm interested in optimal well- being and human fulfillment (Huebner, 2004).
Inherent to both positive psychology and positiveyouth development is the concept of SWB. Diener,Suh, Lucas, and Smith (1999) defined SWB as a tripartite category of phenomena which includes Literature to be included in this review was established positive affect (e.g., joy, optimism), negative affect using three search strategies. First, two major psy- (e.g., sadness, anger), and LS (i.e., evaluation of life chology databases, PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES, as a whole). According to multitrait-multimethod were searched for peer-reviewed published literature analyses conducted by Lucas, Diener, and Suh in April 2008. Abstracts in each of these databases (1996), pleasant affect, unpleasant affect, and LS are were searched with each of the following specific search separable constructs, and therefore can be assessed as terms: life satisfaction, psychometric, adolescent, and separate components (Diener et al., 1999; Pavot & youth. During each search, the terms were paired and combined (i.e., life satisfaction and psychometric; life In general, the affective components of SWB satisfaction and adolescent; life satisfaction and youth; have received more attention in the literature than life satisfaction, psychometric, and adolescent; life the cognitive components (i.e., LS) (Diener, Emmons, satisfaction, psychometric, and youth); the use of Larsen, & Griffin, 1985; Pavot & Diener, 1993; Pavot, these specific search terms was based on informa- Diener, Colvin, & Sandvik, 1991), despite the fact that tion obtained from the results of the literature each of the three components are generally considered search strategies employed by Proctor et al. (2008).
of equal importance (Gilman, Huebner, & Laughlin, The search results from these specific search terms were 2000). This imbalance is accounted for in part by the then screened via the title and abstract for their fact that the affective components are based on relevance for inclusion in this review. Non-empirical emotional responses which, although invariably short (i.e., theoretical, literature review) publications, dis- lived and fluctuating, are representative of the nature sertations, and foreign language studies were not of everyday life (Gilman et al., 2000). Life satisfaction, included. Further, in line with Gilman and Huebner on the other hand, is based on overall cognitive (2000), only studies that unequivocally examined youth appraisals of quality of life and, thus, typically not life satisfaction were included. That is, studies that susceptible to change due to short-term emotional included scales that measured other similar well-being reactions to life events. Therefore, LS is considered not constructs (e.g., positive affect, see Watson, Clark, only to be a more stable component (Eid & Diener, & Tellegen, 1988), or restricted the measurement 2004), but also the key indicator of positive SWB of LS to a specific domain (e.g., school, see Epstein (Diener & Diener, 1995), and consequently the & McPartland, 1977), were not included. Similarly, indicator most amenable for inclusion in studies of satisfaction measures designed for those with specific disabilities or medical conditions (e.g., the Pediatric Cancer Quality of Life Inventory, see Varni et al.
1998), or for those over the age of 18 (e.g., theQuality of Life Inventory, see Frisch, Cornell, Villanueva, & Retzlaff, 1992), were also excluded.
Life satisfaction is the cognitive assessment of one’s Finally, only studies specifically reporting the psy- life as a whole (Shin & Johnson, 1978). In arriving at chometric properties of LS measures were included.
overall evaluations of life, individuals typically use Therefore, this review does not include studies their own set of criteria and standards in weighting the which would be included in a general review of the different aspects of their lives (Diener et al., 1985; youth LS literature (see Proctor et al., 2008, for a Pavot & Diener, 1993; Shin & Johnson, 1978).
review). Using this strategy, a total of 12 empirical Consequently, it is often more meaningful to assess global judgments of LS rather than satisfaction with References obtained from the search performed using specific life domains (Diener & Diener, 1995; Pavot & the first strategy are marked with an asterisk (*) Diener, 1993; Pavot et al., 1991). However, when Second, using the ancestry method (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998), the 12 identified articles chosen for inclusion had their references screened by title for other relevant publications. These publications werethen collected and this process repeated until no The Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (SLSS; Huebner, further relevant references were derived. This process 1991b, 1991c) is a 7-item self-report scale which yielded an additional 18 empirical studies. References assesses global LS for students aged 8–18. As a obtained from the search performed using the second global measure of LS, items on the SLSS are context- strategy are marked with a double asterisk (**) in free (e.g., My life is better than most kids’ vs. My family life is better than most kids’) (Huebner, Suldo, Third, references that were known by the author & Valois, 2003). Students are required to respond to be directly relevant to the review, but not detected to each item using a 6-point Likert scale: 1 ¼ Strongly using the other two search strategies, were also included. This process yielded an additional 9 empiri- and 6 ¼ Strongly Agree. Items are summed for a total cal studies. References obtained using the third score and divided by seven to create a mean score.
strategy are marked with a triple asterisk (***) in Using this rating scale, total scores range from 7–42, Table 1. Therefore, the three strategies employed a high score on the SLSS is indicative of high LS, and yielded a total of 39 empirical studies for review.
low scores are indicative of low LS.
Finally, in order to ensure the literature established The initial scale was comprised of 10 items, which from the first three literature search strategies was was reduced to 7 items as a result of item analysis complete, a search of the Web of Science database and reliability estimates, and employed a 4-point using the previous literature search terms and strategies Likert scale: 1 ¼ never, 2 ¼ sometimes, 3 ¼ often, and was conducted during July 2008. This search resulted 4 ¼ always (see Huebner, 1991c). The 4-point Likert in an additional 8 empirical studies. References scale format is used with children, whereas the 6-point obtained using the fourth strategy are marked with a Likert scale format is used with adolescent samples.
quadruple asterisk (****) in Table 1. Therefore, a total Using the 4-point format total scores range from 7–28.
of 47 empirical studies are to be reviewed.
Administration instructions state that respondentsshould think about their lives over a period of severalweeks and indicate their satisfaction with their overall life based on their agreement or disagreement with the Life satisfaction measures are typically derived from seven statements presented to them. The SLSS may be three conceptual models or frameworks: unidimen- individually or group administered and completion sional (i.e., global and general LS) and multidimen- sional (Huebner, 2004). Measures representative ofunidimensional models present an overall total score asindication of individual levels of LS. Multidimensional measures provide a profile of LS across various included 254 children aged 7–14 and 329 children domains (i.e., satisfaction scores are calculated for aged 8–14, from a Midwestern American state each domain) (Huebner, 2004). The two unidimen- (Huebner, 1991c). Examination of personality corre- sional models differ in that for the global model lates and demographic variables was assessed in a the total score is derived from context-free items that sample of 79 children in grades 5–7 from a Midwestern allow individuals to use their own unique criteria on American state (Huebner, 1991a), and among 222 weighting the different aspects of their lives (Pavot & children in grades 8–12 from a Southeastern American Diener, 1993). In contrast, in the general model the total score is the sum of LS reports across predeter-mined domains included by the authors (e.g., satisfac- Reliability. Coefficient alphas have been consistently tion with relationships, physical well-being, personal reported across all age groups (i.e., 8–18) for the SLSS development) that are considered crucial to the ranging from 0.70–0.86. For example, an alpha of 0.82 contribution of overall LS (Gilman & Huebner, 2000; was reported with initial samples, with 1–2 week test– Huebner, 2004). The key difference between unidimen- retest reliability being reported at 0.74 (Huebner, sional and multidimensional models and measures of 1991c). Overall, the SLSS has been shown to be LS is that under the unidimensional framework the a reliable measure of LS for students in elementary emphasis is on providing a single total LS score, (e.g., Terry & Huebner, 1995) (r ¼ 0.73), middle (e.g., whereas under the multidimensional framework the Huebner, 1991a) (r ¼ 0.82), and high (e.g., Dew & emphasis is on creating a profile of LS across multiple Huebner, 1994) (r ¼ 0.86) school. Moreover, examina- tion of cross-cultural studies have shown comparability of alpha coefficients between African American supported a one-factor structure for the instrument (r ¼ 0.75, 0.85) and Caucasian (r ¼ 0.79, 0.85) children (see Dew & Huebner, 1994; Gilman & Huebner, (Huebner, 1995; Huebner & Dew, 1993a, respectively).
1997; Huebner, 1991c). Scores on the SLSS have not Additional test–retest reliability estimates have been been found to be related to demographic variables, reported at 0.76 across 1–2 weeks (Terry & Huebner, including: age, grade, gender (Dew & Huebner, 1994; 1995), 0.64 across 4 weeks, (Gilman & Huebner, 1997), Gilman & Huebner, 1997; Huebner, 1991a, 1991c; and 0.53 across 1 year (Huebner, Funk, & Gilman, Huebner & Alderman, 1993; Huebner, Gilman, & Laughlin, 1999), or ethnicity (Huebner, 1995; Huebner& Dew, 1993a).
Validity. Evidence of construct validity has beendemonstrated through comparison of SLSS scores Summary. Overall, research supports the SLSS as a with measures of related constructs. For example, psychometrically sound brief measure of LS for positive correlations have been shown between the students aged 8–18. Specifically, the SLSS has demon- SLSS and the Perceived Life Satisfaction Scale strated appropriate internal consistency reliabilities for (Adelman, Taylor, & Nelson, 1989; Dew & Huebner, students in elementary, middle, and high school across 1994) (r ¼ 0.58), the Self-Description Questionnaire-II both response formats (i.e., 4-point and 6-point).
(SDQ-II; Marsh, 1990) (r ¼ 0.58 global, r ¼ 0.57 gen- Further, the SLSS has demonstrated moderate tem- eral, self-concept) (see Gilman & Huebner, 1997), the poral stability across one year and preliminary Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale (Piers & Harris, 1984) equivalency across two ethnic groups for both children (r ¼ 0.53) (see also Huebner, 1994a), the Delighted/ and adolescents. Evidence of the construct validity of Terrible scale (D/T; Andrews & Withey, 1976) the scale has been well supported through appropriate (r ¼ 0.62), and the Moods Scale of the Dimensions of correlations with measures of various related con- Temperament Survey-Revised (Windle & Lerner, 1986) structs. Factor analyses have supported a one-factor solution for the instrument. Limitations include: Evidence of the convergent validity of the SLSS (1) normative data is based on geographically narrow has been provided through significant positive correla- samples; (2) ethnic equivalency has been limited to tions with measures of self-esteem (r ¼ 0.65) and comparisons across only two groups; and (3) repetitive extraversion (r ¼ 0.23), and significant negative corre- wording of scale items could be problematic for lations with measures of anxiety (r ¼ À0.51), external locus of control (LOC) (r ¼ À0.48), neuroticism(r ¼ À0.46) ¼ À0.57), loneliness (r ¼ À0.38), and teacher ratings of classroom behavior problems (r ¼ À0.35) (see The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., Huebner & Alderman, 1993). Further, evidence of 1985) is a 5-item self-report measure of global LS.
discriminant validity of the SLSS has been provided Respondents are required to respond to each item using a 7-point Likert scale: 1 ¼ Strongly Disagree, grades (Huebner, 1991a), social desirability (Huebner, 2 ¼ Disagree, 3 ¼ Slightly Disagree, 4 ¼ Neither Agree 1991c), and intelligence (Huebner & Alderman, 1993).
Moreover, the SLSS has demonstrated consistent 7 ¼ Strongly Agree. The scale was originally developed moderate positive correlations (r ¼ 0.25 to 0.48) for use with adult populations, but it has subsequently with the Adaptive Scales (e.g., self-esteem, interperso- been used extensively with adolescent samples. Scoring nal relations) and moderate negative correlations consists of summing the items for a total score that (r ¼ À0.17 to À0.56) with the Clinical Scales (e.g., ranges from 5–35 and dividing by five to create a mean depression, anxiety, social stress) of the Behavior score. Scores on this scale can be interpreted in terms Assessment System for Children (BASC; Reynolds & of absolute and relative LS (Pavot & Diener, 1993).
Kamphaus, 1992) (Huebner et al., 2000b). Moreover, For example, a score of 20 represents the neutral point SLSS total scores have been demonstrated to be on the scale, whereas scores between 21–25 represent significantly related to scores on measures of inter- slightly satisfied, 26–30 satisfied, 31–35 extremely nalizing and externalizing behavior 1–2 years later, satisfied, 15–19 slightly dissatisfied, 10–14 dissatisfied, providing evidence of the predictive validity of the and 5–9 extremely dissatisfied (Pavot & Diener, 1993).
scale (Haranin, Huebner, & Suldo, 2007). Further, the Administration instructions state that respondents SLSS has demonstrated ethnic equivalency for internal should indicate their satisfaction with their overall consistency, factor structure, criterion-related validity, life based on their agreement or disagreement with the and reliability across two ethnic groups of elementary five statements presented. The SWLS may be indivi- (Huebner, 1995) and high (Huebner & Dew, 1993a) dually or group administered and completion takes partial support has also been provided for a two- included 176 general undergraduate students, and 163 factor second-order model, however further research is undergraduate students enrolled in introductory psy- required in order to confirm the results (Hultell & chology, from the University of Illinois; and 53 Gustavsson, 2008). Factorial invariance has been American elderly participants (Diener et al., 1985).
provided for a single-factor model for both males Additionally, psychometric properties of a Portuguese and females, however further research is required to version of the scale was assessed among a sample of determine if it is also factorially invariant across age 217 students aged 14–17 (Neto, 1993).
and ethnicity (Shevlin et al., 1998). Analysis of theeffects of demographic variables on LS as measured bythe SWLS among adolescents has revealed a moderate effect by both gender and socioeconomic status (SES) adults have demonstrated the SWLS to have strong (see Neto, 1993). Among adults, scores on the SWLS internal reliability (r ¼ 0.87) and moderate temporal have not been found to be related to gender, age, or (Diener et al., 1985). Among adolescents, an internal have been demonstrated with marital status, with consistency reliability coefficient of 0.78 has been higher LS being found among married people (see reported (Neto, 1993). Additional studies with adults have shown coefficient alphas in the range of 0.82to 0.92 (Arrindell, Heesink, & Feij, 1999; Arrindell,Meeuwesen, & Huyse, 1991; Hultell & Gustavsson, Summary. Overall, research supports the SWLS as a 2008; Pavot et al., 1991; Shevlin, Brunsden, & Miles, psychometrically sound brief measure of LS among 1998), with 2-week and 1-month test–retest reliabilities adult populations and preliminary evidence supports averaging 0.84 (Pavot et al., 1991).
its use with adolescents. Acceptable temporal stabilityhas been provided across a 2-month period amongadults, however temporal stability estimates among Validity. Validity was demonstrated among adults adolescents have not yet been reported. Preliminary through the convergence of the SWLS with other research of the construct validity of the SWLS among criterion measures for the two samples used during adolescents has been supportive with appropriate development of the scale, that is, the Fordyce Global correlations being found with various related variables.
Happiness Scale (Fordyce, 1977) (r ¼ 0.58, 0.57), the Factor analyses conducted with both adult and adoles- Cantril measure (Cantril, 1965) (r ¼ 0.62, 0.66), the cent samples have supported a one-factor solution Gurin scale (Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960) (r ¼ 0.59, for the instrument. Limitations include: (1) limited 0.47), the D/T scale (r ¼ 0.68, 0.62), and the Bradburn- normative samples of adolescents; (2) temporal stabi- Positive Affect Scale (Bradburn, 1969) (r ¼ 0.50, 0.51) lity among adolescents has not been established; and (Diener et al., 1985). Further convergent validity (3) lack of reported support for the effects of among adults was demonstrated through correlations demographic variables on adolescent LS.
with external criteria, such as a memory measure of LS(r ¼ 0.42), peer reports of LS (r ¼ 0.54), and other self-reported measures of LS, such as the Life Satisfaction Index-A (Neugarten, Havighurst, & Tobin, 1961)(r ¼ 0.81) (Pavot et al., 1991). Construct validity has been provided among young adults through differ- The Perceived Life Satisfaction Scale (PLSS; Adelman entiation between LS and health status (see Arrindell et al., 1989; Smith, Adelman, Nelson, & Taylor, 1987) et al., 1999). Moreover, positive LS among young is a 19-item self-report measure designed to provide an adults has been demonstrated to be related to higher indication of a youth’s degree of satisfaction/dissatis- levels of self-esteem and trait-euphoria, and lower faction with their life across five major domains levels of trait-neuroticism and trait-dysphoria (see (i.e., material/physical well-being, relationships, envir- Arrindell et al., 1999). Among adolescents, scores on onment, personal development/fulfillment, and recrea- the SWLS were found to correlate negatively with tion/entertainment) of quality of life. Individuals loneliness (r ¼ À0.49), social anxiety (r ¼ À0.23), and respond to items using a 6-point Likert scale: 1 ¼ Not shyness (r ¼ À0.29), and positively with self-concept at All, 2 ¼ Not Much, 3 ¼ A Little, 4 ¼ Somewhat, 5 ¼ A Lot, and 6 ¼ Extremely. The 6-point ratings are converted into three indices of dissatisfaction by (Neto, 1993). Factor analyses have supported a one- scoring low ratings (1 and 2) as 2, moderate ratings factor structure for the instrument (Diener et al., 1985; (3 and 4) as 1, and high ratings (5 and 6) as 0.
Lewis, Shevlin, Bunting, & Joseph, 1995; Neto, 1993; Thus, dissatisfaction scores can range from 0–38.
Pavot et al., 1991; Pons, Atienza, Balaguer, & Garcia-Merita, 2000; Shevlin & Bunting, 1994); card designed to assist them in understanding the three ratings. On the card, the rating alternatives are Summary. Overall, preliminary internal consistency presented in large font and graphically represented and test–retest reliability estimates support the use of as circles with varying degrees of shading (Adelman the PLSS with adolescents. Development research samples consisted of older children and adolescents,however the exact applicable age range of this scale isunclear. Both convergent and discriminant validity Samples. Initial development research samples were have been supported for the scale. However, results of comprised of three groups of regular classroom factor analyses have left doubt over the unidimensional students, and one group of students referred to a structure of the scale and suggest that it may be mental health centre, from California, USA: 221 multidimensional. Confirmatory factor analysis is children aged 9–19; 179 children aged 11–16; 68 required in order to determine the status of this scale children 8–18; and 47 children aged 7–16, respectively as a general unidimensional measure. Limitations (Adelman et al., 1989). Additionally, a demographic include: (1) normative data is limited in scope; analysis was carried out among 222 children in grades (2) applicable age range for use has not been provided; 8–12 from a Southeastern American state (Huebner & (3) research supporting the psychometric properties has not been well established; (4) additional develop-ment and cross-cultural research is required in order Reliability. Internal reliability coefficient estimates to establish generalizability; and (5) doubt over the have been reported for the PLSS as ranging from dimensionality of the scale is problematic.
0.74 to 0.80 (Smith et al., 1987), and as high as 0.89 ina sample of students in grades 8–12 (Huebner & Dew, Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction 1993c), with test–retest reliability reported from a random sample of students over an unspecified timeperiod of 0.85 (Adelman et al., 1989).
The Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life SatisfactionScale (BMSLSS; Seligson, Huebner, & Valois, 2003)is a 5-item LS measure for use with children and Validity. The validity of the PLSS has been demon- adolescents aged 8–18. Each of the five items of the strated through its ability to discriminate between BMSLSS represents one of the five LS domains of the special and regular education students (Smith et al., MSLSS (i.e., family, friends, school, self, and living 1987), as well as, between regular students and those environment) (Seligson et al., 2003). However, despite referred for mental health services (Adelman et al., that the BMSLSS is based on the conceptual model of 1989). Construct validity has been provided through the MSLSS, the items are unique to the scale and thus it is not a short form of the MSLSS (Huebner, Suldo, measures of related constructs, such as the SDQ-II Valois, Drane, & Zullig, 2004). Response options (r ¼ 0.48), the Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control are derived from the D/T scale, a 7-point Likert style Scale-Short Form (LOCS-SF; Nowicki & Strickland, scale that ranges from: 1 ¼ Terrible, 2 ¼ Unhappy, 1973) (r ¼ À0.49) (Huebner & Dew, 1993c), and 3 ¼ Mostly Dissatisfied, 4 ¼ Mixed (equally satisfied the Children’s Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1981, and dissatisfied), 5 ¼ Mostly Satisfied, 6 ¼ Pleased, and 1992) (r ¼ 0.55) (Adelman et al., 1989). Further, cross- 7 ¼ Delighted. The total (i.e., general) score is derived method convergent validity has been demonstrated from the summation of the five items.
through the correlation between PLSS scores andindependent parent estimates (r ¼ 0.42) of their child’s LS (Huebner & Dew, 1993c). The dimensionality of the included 221 children in grades 6–8 and 46 high PLSS has been demonstrated through exploratory school students, both from a Southeastern American factor analysis where a four-factor solution was state (Seligson et al., 2003). Further normative samples retained as the most interpretable solution (eigenvalues have included 518 children in grades 3–5 (Seligson, across the four factors: 6.80, 1.78, 1.23, 1.10), sugges- Huebner, & Valois, 2005), 146 students in grades 9–12 ting that the PLSS is multidimensional (Huebner & (Funk, Huebner, & Valois, 2006), and 5545 students in Dew, 1993b). However, further confirmatory factor grades 9–12 (Huebner et al., 2004).
analysis is required in order to determine the factorstructure of the scale and confirm its status as ascale measuring general unidimensional LS. Scores on Reliability. Reliability coefficients for the total score the PLSS have not been found to be related to age, have been reported at 0.68 for elementary (Seligson grade, gender, or ethnicity, however a moderate age et al., 2005), 0.75 for middle (Seligson et al., 2003), and effect and an negative correlation with SES has 0.75 (Funk et al., 2006) and 0.81 (Zullig, Valois, been reported (see Adelman et al., 1989; Huebner & Huebner, Oeltmann, & Drane, 2001) for high school consistency reliability coefficient of 0.78 has been narrow samples; (2) temporal stability among children has not been established; and (3) additional research is Murray, 2005). Two-week test–retest reliability coeffi- cients have been reported at 0.91 among 51 high schoolstudents in grades 9–12 (Funk et al., 2006).
BMSLSS total score and other validated measures of The Extended Satisfaction With Life Scale (ESWLS; LS have been acceptable; correlations with the MSLSS Alfonso, Allison, Rader, & Gorman, 1996) is a 50-item have been recorded at 0.66 (Seligson et al., 2003), and self-report scale that measures LS across nine domains with the SLSS at 0.74 (Funk et al., 2006), 0.62 (i.e., general, social, sex, school, family, relationship, (Seligson et al., 2003), and 0.69 (Seligson et al., self, physical, job). Individuals respond to items 2005). Moreover, BMSLSS total scores have been using a 7-point Likert scale: 1 ¼ Strongly Disagree, shown to correlate positively with the Adaptive Scales 2 ¼ Disagree, 3 ¼ Slightly Disagree, 4 ¼ Neither Agree (r ¼ 0.45 to 0.65) and negatively with the Clinical Scales (r ¼ À0.17 to À0.69) of the BASC (Funk et al., 7 ¼ Strongly Agree. Scores from each subscale are 2006). Construct validity has been supported through calculated as the sum of the ratings from each of the confirmatory factor analysis, multitrait-multimethod items comprising the subscale. The ESWLS is used correlation comparisons with the total domain scores across a wide range of populations including adoles- of the MSLSS and enhanced by significant correla- cent, patient, and adult groups. Respondents of the tions with other theoretically related instruments; for ESWLS respond only to the subscales relevant to their example, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule- lives or to the areas under study. For example, a person Children (Laurent et al., 1999; see Seligson et al., 2003, who did not go to school or work would not respond 2005). Similarly, among college students BMSLSS to the school or job satisfaction subscales. General total scores have been found to be negatively related administration instructions include asking respondents to scores on the Health Related Quality of Life Scale to agree or disagree with the statements provided.
(HRQOLS), such that as the number of reported poor The ESWLS can be individually or group administered HRQOL days increased, levels of LS decreased (see and completion takes 20 minutes or less. An alternative Zullig et al., 2005). Overall, principal axis factor 22-item version of the scale, which includes three analyses have supported a one-factor structure for additional domains (i.e., income, health, safety), has the instrument (see Funk et al., 2006; Seligson et al., also been proposed (see Gregg & Salisbury, 2004).
2005; Zullig et al., 2005). Scores on the BMSLSS have not been found to be related to demographic Samples. The initial development research sample was variables, such as age, grade, or gender (Funk et al., comprised of 302 undergraduate students from two 2006; Huebner, Drane, & Valois, 2000a; Huebner American universities (Alfonso et al., 1996).
et al., 2004; Seligson et al., 2003, 2005; Zullig et al.,2005), however weak associations have been foundwith SES (Seligson et al., 2003) and ethnicity (Huebner Reliability. Internal reliability coefficient estimates from the development research sample were reportedas ranging from 0.81 to 0.96, with 2-week test–retestreliability reported from a 109 undergraduate student Summary. Overall, research findings support the use sample as ranging from 0.74 to 0.87 (Alfonso et al., of the BMSLSS among youth aged 8–18, particularly in studies where it is beneficial to have a brief butreliable and valid alternative to longer multidimen-sional measures. Internal consistency reliability esti- mates have supported its use with elementary, middle, among adults for the convergent validity of the and high school students, and temporal stability has ESWLS through positive correlations with scales preliminarily been supported among adolescents.
measuring conceptually distinct but overlapping con- structs, such as self-esteem. For example, positive through acceptable correlations with other well-being correlations were found between general (r ¼ 0.48) and measures. Further, convergent and discriminant valid- self-satisfaction (r ¼ 0.59) as measured by the ESWLS ity has been supported through appropriate cor- (Alfonso et al., 1996) and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem relations with theoretically related constructs. The Scale (RSE; Rosenberg, 1965). Further, preliminary one-factor structure of the BMSLSS has been sup- support has been provided for the discriminant validity ported by principal factor analyses. Limitations of the ESWLS indirectly through the correlations include: (1) normative data is based on geographically between the subscales of the measure being found to be lower than their respective coefficient alpha reliabil- (Huebner, 1994b). Further normative samples include ities, and directly through structural equation model- 314 children in grades 3–8 from Western Canada ing whereby some of the factors of the scale were found (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 1997, 1998), 291 children in to be correlated but not identical (Alfonso et al., 1996).
grades 6–8 (Huebner, Laughlin, Ash, & Gilman, 1998), Factor analyses have suggested seven and nine factors, 321 adolescents in grades 9–12 (Gilman et al., 2000), which considered together provide strong support for and 725 children in grades 3–8 (Huebner, 1998) from the developmentally hypothesized eight-factor solution a Southeastern American state, and 160 adolescents in accounting for 77% of the variance (Alfonso et al., grades 9–12 from South Carolina, USA (Huebner, Brantley, Nagle, & Valois, 2002).
Summary. Overall, preliminary results of ESWLS Reliability. Reliability coefficients for the MSLSS total suggest that it has adequate internal reliability and score have been reported at 0.92 for elementary convergent validity among young adults. However, (Huebner, 1994b), 0.91 for middle (Huebner et al., further research is required in order to determine 1998), and 0.91 for high (Gilman et al., 2000) school internal consistency reliability estimates and validity students. Internal consistency and test–retest alpha among adolescent samples. Further, a specified age coefficients in the range of 0.70 to 0.90 have been range for the scale needs to be determined. Additional reported by various studies of elementary school factor analyses are required in order to determine the factor structure of the instrument, as preliminary Huebner, 1994b; Huebner et al., 1998). Examinations findings have not provided firm support for the of ethnic bias have indicated equivalent coefficients hypothesized eight-factor solution. Further research for the total score for African American (r ¼ 0.91) and is required in order to determine the usefulness and Caucasian (r ¼ 0.93) elementary school students, and desirability of including the proposed additional across the five domains of the scale with the excep- domains of income, health, and safety. Limitations include: (1) normative samples of adolescents are (r ¼ 0.87) students had significantly higher reliability required; (2) temporal stability among adolescents estimates to their African American (0.77) peers has not been established; (3) the effects of demographic variables on adolescent LS has not been examined; and American (domain r ¼ 0.82 to 0.89, general r ¼ 0.93), (4) further research is required in order to determine Irish (domain r ¼ 0.80 to 0.90, general r ¼ 0.93), the factor structure of the instrument.
Chinese (domain r ¼ 0.67 to 0.87, general r ¼ 0.89),and South Korean (domain r ¼ 0.79 to 0.86, generalr ¼ 0.92) students has revealed internal consistency Multidimensional Student’s Life Satisfaction Scale estimates for the scale to be generally consistent The Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale across nationalities, with most values being found to (MSLSS; Huebner, 1994b) is a 40-item self-report scale exceed 0.70. An exception is the Self and Living designed to provide a profile of LS within five specific Environment domains among Chinese adolescents domains (i.e., family, friends, school, self ), as well as, an overall assessment of general LS (Huebner &Gilman, 2002). The MSLSS is applicable for use with Validity. The dimensionality of the MSLSS has been students aged 8–18. For elementary school children a supported through exploratory (eigenvalues across the 4-point Likert response format is used: 1 ¼ Never, five factors: 8.12, 3.40, 2.19, 1.83, 1.08, and 9.68, 3.20, 2 ¼ Sometimes, 3 ¼ Often, and 4 ¼ Almost Always. For 2.36, 2.40, 1.75, with 42.4% to 49.5% of the total middle and high school students a 6-point Likert scale variance accounted for) (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 1997; Huebner, 1994b, respectively) and confirmatory (Goodness of Fit Index: 0.78, Comparative Fit Index: 0.97) (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 1998; Huebner et al., 6 ¼ Strongly Agree. Domains consist of unequal 1998, respectively) factor analyses, which have sup- items and, therefore, the domain and overall scores ported the five-factor model of the instrument.
are made comparable by using domain averages Evidence of the convergent and the discriminant (Huebner, 2001). Throughout the scale, a high score validity of the MSLSS has been provided through is indicative of high LS and low scores are indicative multitrait-multimethod correlation matrix analysis whereby significant convergent validity correlations(i.e., r ¼ 0.41 to 0.55 for the domains, and r ¼ 0.50 for the total score) between student and parental reports of included 312 children in grades 3–8 and 413 children LS were found (see Huebner et al., 2002). Further in grades 3–5, from a Southeastern American state evidence of convergent and discriminant validity has been demonstrated through correlations between the Samples. The initial development research sample was domain scores of the MSLSS and those of the SDQ-II comprised of 266 adolescents in grades 9–12 from a (Huebner, 1994b; Huebner et al., 1998), the BASC Southeastern American state (Gilligan & Huebner, (Gilman et al., 2000), and the BASC Self Report of Personality scales (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 1997).
Evidence of construct validity has been provided Reliability. Alpha coefficients for the six domains have through significant negative correlations between the been reported as ranging from 0.72 to 0.90 (Gilligan & MSLSS total score and depression (r ¼ 0.61) and social Huebner, 2002, 2007). Two-week test–retest reliability stress (r ¼ 0.52), as measured by the BASC. Further, coefficients for the MSLSS-A have been reported as domain scores on the MSLSS have been demonstrated ranging from 0.85 to 0.90 for the domain scores and to provide additional, unique information over and 0.94 for the total score (Gilligan & Huebner, 2007).
above that of a global LS measure (i.e., SLSS) in theprediction of later internalizing and externalizingbehavior, thereby demonstrating the incremental valid- Validity. Factor analyses have supported a six-factor ity of the domain scale scores (see Haranin et al., 2007).
structure for the instrument, with 37.31% of the totalvariance accounted for (Gilligan & Huebner, 2007).
Evidence of the convergent validity of the MSLSS-A Summary. Overall research findings have provided has been supported through multitrait-multimethod support for the use of the MSLSS with students aged correlation matrix analysis whereby significant con- 8–18 and may be used as an indicator of both general vergent validity correlations (r ¼ 0.30 to 0.37) between and domain specific LS. Internal consistency reliability student and parental reports of LS were found estimates have been supported across elementary, (Gilligan & Huebner, 2002). Further support for the middle, and high school students. Temporal stability validity of the MSLSS-A has been demonstrated has been established for the MSLSS among elemen- through correlations between the total LS score and tary school students; however, further research is LOC (r ¼ À0.55) as measured by the LOCS-SF, self- required in order to assess stability among adolescents.
esteem (r ¼ 0.62) as measured by the RSE, and positive Convergent and discriminant validity has been sup- (r ¼ 0.52) and negative (r ¼ À0.35) affect as measured ported for the MSLSS through appropriate correla- by the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Watson tions with measures of related constructs. Exploratory et al., 1988) (see Gilligan & Huebner, 2007).
and confirmatory factor analyses have supported afive-factor solution for the instrument. Limitationsinclude: (1) further investigation of the meaningfulness Summary. Overall, preliminary results suggest that of the domains with various populations is required; the MSLSS-A has adequate internal reliability and and (2) ethnic equivalency has been limited to temporal stability. However, additional research is required in order support these findings. Further,a specified age range for the scale needs to bedetermined. Scale development research suggests that Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction the MSLSS-A has adequate convergent validity for research purposes. However, additional research is The Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction required in order to expand and support these findings.
Initial factor analyses have supported a six-factor Huebner, 2002) is a 53-item self-report scale designed solution for the instrument, however findings suggest to provide a profile of LS within six specific domains difficulty with the Self domain, and therefore additional (i.e., family, opposite-sex friends, same-sex friends, analyses of the factor structure are necessary. Further school, self, living environment). Individuals respond development of this scale is necessary, although to items using a 6-point Likert scale: 1 ¼ Strongly preliminary results suggest support for the psycho- metric properties of the scale. Limitations include: Disagree, 4 ¼ Mildly Agree, 5 ¼ Moderately Agree, (1) normative data is limited; (2) specific adolescent age and 6 ¼ Strongly Agree. The MSLSS-A is a modifica- range for the scale has not been provided; (3) internal tion of the MSLSS designed specifically for use reliability estimates, and internal and external validity with adolescents and contains an additional domain are not well established; and (4) factor structure of the measuring opposite-sex relationships. Negative items instrument has not been fully determined.
are reverse scored so that a high score on theMSLSS-A indicates high satisfaction and a low scorelow satisfaction. The total LS score is calculated by summing all items of the individual domains of the The Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale (ComQol; Cummins, McCabe, Romeo, & Gullone, 1994) is a 35-item LS measure that assesses quality of life (QOL) from an Australian university (Cummins et al., 1994).
on two dimensions (i.e., objective and subjective) in Psychometric properties of the ComQol for adoles- each of seven domains (i.e., material well-being, health, cents has been reported from a sample of 264 students productivity, intimacy, safety, place in the community, aged 12–18 from Melbourne, Australia (Gullone & emotional well-being). The scale was originally devel- oped for use with adults (see Cummins, 1997a;Cummins et al., 1994), however an adolescent version Reliability. Among adults, coefficient alphas have has been designed for use with adolescents aged 11–18 been reported for the satisfaction subscale at 0.73 (Gullone & Cummins, 1999). The adolescent version of and the importance subscale 0.65 (Cummins et al., the scale is currently in its fifth revision (see Cummins, 1994). Internal consistency coefficient alphas based on 1997c) with a separate form available for individuals age and gender groups have been found to range from with intellectual disability (see Cummins, 1997b). The 0.78 (females) to 0.83 (males) for the satisfaction scale, objective dimension assesses how often adolescents and from 0.75 (males, older adolescents) to 0.77 engage in an activity (e.g., ‘‘On average, how many (females) for the importance scale. Subjective QOL hours of TV do you watch each day?’’). The subjective scores (i.e., satisfaction  importance) based on dimension assesses satisfaction with each activity age and gender group have been found to range and each is weighted by its importance (e.g., ‘‘How from 0.80 (older adolescents) to 0.83 (females).
satisfied are you with the things you own?’’ and ‘‘How important to you are the things you own?’’).
been reported as 0.73 for the satisfaction scale Both subjective dimension items are rated on 5-point and 0.74 for the importance scale (Gullone & Likert scales with the satisfaction ratings ranging Cummins, 1999). A total satisfaction score (i.e., all from: 1 ¼ Terrible, 2 ¼ Mostly Dissatisfied, 3 ¼ Mixed domains) coefficient alpha has been reported at 0.80 (equally satisfied and dissatisfied), 4 ¼ Mostly Satisfied, (Cummins, 1997c). No reliability data are available for and 5 ¼ Delighted, and the importance ratings rang- ing from: 1 ¼ Not Important At All, 2 ¼ SlightlyImportant, 3 ¼ Somewhat Important, 4 ¼ Very Impor-tant, and 5 ¼ Could Not Be More Important. In the Validity. Convergent validity for the ComQol has been fifth edition, each satisfaction item is responded to on a demonstrated through negative correlations between 7-point D/T scale, however the results using this satisfaction QOL and anxiety (À0.14 to À0.33), and extended format have not been published. Satisfaction subjective QOL and fear (À0.14 to À0.32) (Gullone & and importance ratings are combined for each domain Cummins, 1999). It has been suggested that content to arrive at a subjective QOL score. In order to weight validity for the ComQol is demonstrated by the scores according to importance, the five items on the satisfaction scores for each domain falling within the satisfaction scale are coded: À4.0, À2.5, 1.0, 2.5, and proposed normative range of 75% ( Æ 2) to 100% (see 4.0, so that each subjective score ranges from 20 Cummins, 1995). Results reported from adolescents (delighted  could not be more important) to À20 has provided support for this, with satisfaction scores (terrible  not important at all). For each of the seven for all domains falling in the range of 70–80% (see domains there are 7 satisfaction items and 7 importance items, and there are 3 items for each domain of theobjective scale (i.e., 21 objective items).
among adult samples are adequate for research in 2001 for reasons detailed by Cummins (2002).
purposes. However, preliminary research reporting However, the satisfaction scale was retained and used reliability data has not been conducted among to form the basis of the Personal Well-being Index- adolescent samples and therefore additional research Adult (PWI-A) scale (International-Wellbeing-Group, is required. Preliminary support of convergent validity 2006), which is currently in its fourth revision. The has been provided for both young adults and PWI-A is designed for use with the general adult adolescents. However, support of construct validity is population, aged at least 18 years. The adolescent not well documented and further research is required in version of the scale is currently in its third revision (see order for it to be established and to provide additional Cummins & Lau, 2005c), with separate forms available support for the convergent and discriminant validity for pre-school aged children (see Cummins & Lau, of the scale. Limitations include: (1) reliability and 2005b) and individuals with intellectual disability validity of the scale among adolescents has not been well established; (2) complex structure of the scalemakes scoring difficult; (3) additional normative data Samples. The initial development research sample among adolescents is required; and (4) cross-cultural was comprised of 243 university students and 65 staff comparisons of the scale, which examine psychometric properties and establish the generalizability of the of youth LS measures it is essential that researchers in this area form efficacious partnerships with researchersfrom undoubtedly result in a much-needed increase in the generation of cross-cultural research in this important The positive psychology field has illuminated the need and burgeoning area. Further, additional research is to readdress psychology’s neglected historical founda- required with special populations, such as those with tions, which included making the lives of all people mental or learning disabilities. Recent research has better, by encouraging a redirection of some of its shown that modifications are often required when focus back to discovering how we achieve happiness.
using LS measures among disabled populations in Accordingly, interest in the positive development of order to improve internal consistency estimates. For youth, and the incorporation of LS assessments in example, Brantley, Huebner, and Nagel (2002) omitted order to better understanding how youths perceive three items from the Living Environment domain and their lives and achieve happiness, has grown. Similarly, one item from the Self domain of the MSLSS in order development of instruments designed to measure to achieve acceptable reliability levels for use with global and domain specific LS have increased. As adolescents with mild mental disability. Similarly, a result, assessment of self-reported youth LS has Griffin and Huebner (2000) omitted two items fromthe School domain, two items from the Living provided researchers with useful insights into how Environment domain, one item from the Family youths perceive their lives, and associations between domain of the MSLSS, and one Global item from LS and various psychological, social, behavioral, the SLSS, in order to achieve acceptable reliabilities for environmental, and educational variables have demon- use with youth classified as seriously emotionally strated LS to be a key indicator of well-being disturbed. In contrast, McCullough and Huebner (see Proctor et al., 2008, for a review). Nevertheless, (2003) found that internal consistency coefficients for continued theoretical and empirical refinement of the MSLSS total and domain scores were acceptable assessment measures will benefit future youth LS for use with adolescents with learning disabilities measurement research (Gilman & Huebner, 2000).
without modifications being made to the scale. Thevariability of these findings further demonstrates thenecessity for additional examination of LS measures It is clear from the findings of this review that the In accordance with the findings of Gilman and reported psychometric properties of many of the Huebner (2000), internal consistency reliability esti- measures considered are based on normative samples mates for the LS scales considered have been demon- from limited geographical regions. Specifically, for the strated to be acceptable for research purposes.
measures reviewed, the scale development samples However, there continues to be a paucity of research were derived from: Midwest and Southwest American in this area providing firm demonstration of the states (SLSS), the University of Illinois (SWLS), temporal stability of youth LS measures across varying time frames (Gilman & Huebner, 2000). Similarly, (PLSS), a Southeastern American state (BMLSS), additional investigations of the validity of youth LS measures are required in order to further support the Southeastern American state, Canada, and South conceptual models proposed for many of the scales.
Carolina USA (MSLSS), a Southeastern American For example, the PLSS purports to measure general state (MSLSS-A), and Australian university students unidimensional LS. The total score on the scale is (ComQol). Additional cross-cultural studies exploring based on the summation of heterogeneous items from the psychometric properties of LS measures is neces- diverse domains (e.g., material and physical well-being, sary in order to establish the generalizability of the personal development, recreation). Results of factor reported findings. Moreover, preliminary research analyses have demonstrated an underlying multi- examining the cross-national differences between dimensional structure to the instrument (see Huebner & Dew, 1993b), which suggests there are serious issues important similarities and differences in response to be addressed with regards to the underlying ratio- styles between nations, additional research in this nale for the scale. Further, validity investigations area will further illuminate important cultural, educa- should consider, and provide account for, the findings tional, and social variables influencing LS reports which demonstrate that convergent validities are often among youths (Gilman et al., 2008). Additionally, as reported as lower than discriminant validities, and evidenced by Gilman et al. (2008), in order to make provide rationale for a given correlation being reported informed and evaluative cross-national recommenda- as weak, moderate, or strong. Furthermore, investiga- tions with regards to the applicability and usefulness tions of validity should be expanded to include, and provide further support for, the predictive and differentiated assessment is required for a focused construct validity of youth LS measures (Gilman & Huebner, 2000). Recent research suggests that global (Huebner, 2001). Overall, the strengths and limitations LS scores can predict future measures of internalizing of each measure reviewed here should be considered and externalizing behavior up to 2 years later (Haranin when selecting an appropriate measure for a given et al., 2007). Additional research is required in order to support these finding and to determine the role that Implementations of assessment of life satisfaction LS measures play in the diagnosis and prediction of among youths is essential in order for researchers and psychopathology among youth. Moreover, with the educators to discover those youths suffering with exception of the SWLS and the PLSS, the measures low subjective quality of life, and assess the outcomes reviewed provide no indication of indices of satisfac- of research and educational programs designed to tion for interpretive or clinical use. Clearer designation improve subjective quality of life among youths.
of satisfaction ratings as being low, moderate, or high Accordingly, adopting a dual-factor model of mental would greatly benefit the use of these measures in the health, in which subjective well-being and psycho- assessment, evaluation, and implementation of educa- pathology are assessed together through an integrated tional and social programs. Similarly, investigations of system, would also enable identification of those who the clinical utility of LS measures are required in order do not fall within the usual (high-subjective well-being/ to determine the usefulness of these instruments as low-psychopathology and low-subjective well-being/ outcome measures for well-being enhancement inter- ventions among adolescents and youth. For example, mental health; i.e., those exhibiting low-subjective recent research conducted by Froh, Sefick, and well-being/low-psychopathology and high-subjective Emmons (2008) demonstrated that counting daily well-being/high-psychopathology. Support for an inte- blessings resulted in enhanced LS, gratitude, optimism, grative system has been provided by Greenspoon and and decreased negative affect among middle school Saklofske (2001) and additional recent research (see students. Further exploration of the usefulness of Suldo & Shaffer, 2008) has demonstrated that youths measures of LS in the evaluation of well-being with complete mental health (i.e., high-subjective intervention programs among youth is required in well-being/low psychopathology) have better reading order to support these finding and to expand upon the skills, school attendance, academic self-perceptions, academic-related goals, social support from friendsand parents, self-perceived physical health, and fewersocial problems than their vulnerable peers (i.e., low Life satisfaction is a key component in the attainment tional research aimed at the development of applicable of positive well-being among youth and is a determi- interventions that will enable educators and mental nant of many life outcomes (Proctor et al., 2008).
health professionals to increase life satisfaction and In line with the positive psychology movement, subjective well-being among youths is required (Suldo investigations into how youths perceive their lives is & Shaffer, 2008). Finally, improvements of existing fundamental to discovering how youth achieve and measures (and development of new measures) of life maintain positive levels of well-being and happiness.
satisfaction will greatly aid in the overall aim of Part of the growing awareness of the importance of promoting positive development among youth.
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