High School Students’ Subjective Well-being
The Role of Life Purpose and Academic Identity
Keywords:Life purpose, Academic identity, Well-being, Adolescents, Positive Development
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between high school students’ subjective well-being, academic identity, and sense of purpose in life. Specifically, this study examined the extent to which student subjective well-being can be predicted by sense of purpose in life directly and indirectly via academic identity. Two hundred and thirty-four high school students participated in the study. Findings showed that academic identity predicted all four dimensions of students’ subjective well-being. In relation to life purpose, findings showed that two dimensions of awakening to purpose and altruistic purpose were relevant to students’ subjective well-being. Particularly, students with altruistic purposes reported a more central role of academic identity in their sense of self and, in turn, reported greater satisfaction and joy of learning. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Ackerman, C. E., Warren, M. A., & Donaldson, S. I., (2018). Scaling the heights of positive psychology: A systematic review of measurement scales. International Journal of Wellbeing, 8(2), 1-21. doi:10.5502/ijw.v8i2.734
Addison, B. V. (2012). Academic care, classroom pedagogy and the house group teacher: ‘making hope practical’ in uncertain times. Pastoral Care in Education, 30, 303-315. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2012.688064
Alter, C. (2020, May 21). How COVID-19 will shape the Class of 2020 for the rest of their lives. https://time.com/magazine/us/5840178/june-1st-2020-vol-195-no-20-u-s/.
Benson, P. (1997). All kids are our kids. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bird, J. M., & Markle, R. S. (2012). Subjective well‐being in school environments: Promoting positive youth development through evidence‐based assessment and intervention. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(1), 61–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01127.x.
Bronk, K. C., & Finch, H. W. (2010). Adolescent characteristics by type of long-term aim in life. Applied Developmental Science, 14, 35–44.
Butler, N., Quigg, Z., Bates, R., Jones, L., Ashworth, E., Gowland, S., & Jones, M. (2022). The contributing role of family, school, and peer supportive relationships in protecting the mental wellbeing of children and adolescents. School Mental Health, 1-13.
Chen, H.-Y. and Cheng, C.-L. (2020). Developmental trajectory of purpose identification during adolescence: Links to life satisfaction and depressive symptoms. Journal of Adolescence, 80, 10-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2020.01.013
Damon, W. (2008). The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find their Calling in Life. New York: The Free Press.
Damon, W., Menon. J., & Bronk, K.C. (2003). The development of purpose during adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 7, 119-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S1532480XADS0703_2
Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. E. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276
Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Galinha, I., & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L. (2011). Cognitive, affective and contextual predictors of subjective wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(1), 34–53. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v2i1.3
Graham, A., & Anderson, K. A. (2008). “I have to be three steps ahead”: Academically gifted African American male students in an urban high school on the tension between an ethnic and academic identity. The Urban Review, 40(5), 472-499.
Hair, J. F., Jr., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2019). Multivariate data analysis. (8th ed.). Cengage.
Hill, P. L., Burrow, A. L., O’Dell, A. C., & Thornton, M. A. (2010). Classifying adolescents’ conceptions of purpose in life. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 466–473.
Jongbloed, J., & Andres, L. (2015). Elucidating the constructs happiness and wellbeing: A mixed-methods approach. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(3), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v5i3.1
Joshanloo, M., & Afshari, S. (2011). Big Five Personality Traits and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Life Satisfaction in Iranian Muslim University Students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(1), 105–113. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-009-9177-y
Logue, C. T., Lounsbury, J. W., Gupta, A., & Leong, F. T. L. (2007). Vocational Interest Themes and Personality Traits in Relation to College Major Satisfaction of Business Students. Journal of Career Development, 33(3), 269–295.
Malin, H., Morton, E., Nadal, A. and Smith, K.A. (2019), Purpose and coping with adversity: A repeated measures, mixed-methods study with young adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 76, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.07.015
Kosine, N. R., Steger, M. F., & Duncan, S. (2008). Purpose-Centered Career Development: A Strengths-Based Approach to Finding Meaning and Purpose in Careers. Professional School Counseling. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X0801200209
Morse, J. L., O’Donnell, M. B., Walberg, A. R., & Dik, B. J. (2019). Meaning interventions in schools: Strategies for supporting healthy development and wellbeing in the lives of youth. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9(4), 43-58. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v9i4.983
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012-2021). Mplus (Version 8.7) [computer software] Muthén & Muthén. https://wwwstatmodelcom/.
Renshaw, T. L. (2020). Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (SSWQ): Measure and user guide. Open Science Framework. https://osf.io/k25yf/
Renshaw, T. L., Long, A. C., & Cook, C. R. (2015). Assessing adolescents’ positive psychological functioning at school: Development and validation of the Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire. School Psychology Quarterly, 30(4), 534. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000088
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 141–166. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141
Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.529
Scheier, M. F., Wrosch, C., Baum, A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Matthews, K. A., Schulz, R., & Zdaniuk, B. (2006). The Life Engagement Test: Assessing purpose in life. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 291-298. http://dx.doi.org/10.13072/midss.615.
Sharma, G., & de Alba, E. (2018). Sense of purpose among female students belonging to minority ethnic and Buddhist backgrounds. Journal of College and Character, 19(2), 137–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/2194587X.2018.1445644
Sharma, G., Kim, J., & Bernal-Arevalo, K. (2021). The Relationship Between High School Sophomores’ Purpose Orientations and Their Postsecondary Completion a Decade Later. Professional School Counseling. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X20981051
Sharma, G., & Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. (2019). Validation of the Revised Sense of Purpose Scale with Emerging Adults. Journal of Character Education, 15(2), 39-52.
Sharma, G., & Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. A. (2022). A framework for cultivating purpose as a pedagogy of care. Italian Journal of Educational Technology. https://doi.org/10.17471/2499-4324/1234
Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., & Kasser, T. (2004). The independent effects of goal contents and motives on well-being: It’s both what you pursue and why you pursue it. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(4), 475–86. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167203261883
Smith, N. D. W., Bradley, K. K. L., Suldo, S. M., Dedrick, R. F., & Shaffer, H. E. J. (2022). Associations Between Multiple Health‐Promoting Behaviors and Subjective Well‐Being in High School Age Youth. Journal of School Health, 92(1), 52–62. https://doi-org.hmlproxy.lib.csufresno.edu/10.1111/josh.13103
Suldo, S. M., Thalji, A., & Ferron, J. (2011). Longitudinal academic outcomes predicted by early adolescents' subjective wellbeing, psychopathology, and mental health status yielded from a dual-factor model. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(1), 17-30. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2010.536774
Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 678–691.
Welch, O. M., & Hodges, C. R. (1997). Standing outside on the inside: Black adolescents and the construction of academic identity. SUNY Press.
Yeager, D. S., & Bundick, M. J. (2009). The role of purposeful work goals in promoting meaning in life and in schoolwork during adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24, 423–452.
Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. A. (2014). Students and athletes? Development of the Academic and Athletic Identity Scale (AAIS). Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 3(2), 89–101. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000009
Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. A., & Sharma, G. (2020). Examining the factor structure of the revised sense of purpose scale (SOPS-2) with adults. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 15(4), 1203-1222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-019-09729-w
Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M. A., & Sharma, G. (2020). Sense of purpose and progress towards degree in freshman college students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 1521025120975134. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025120975134
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Gitima Sharma, Mariya Yukhymenko-Lescroart
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.