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Interrelationships A mong Personality, Perceived Classmate Support, and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents by Devon R enee Minch A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Education Specialist Department of Psychological and Social Foundations College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Shannon M Suldo Ph.D. Kathy L. Bradley Klug Ph .D. Constance V. Hines Ph.D. Date of Approval: August 25, 2009 Keywords: positive psychology, subjective well being five factor model gender, social support Copyright 2009 Devon R enee Minc h
Acknowledgements I would like to convey my appreciation to the individuals who have supported me, not only in the development of this thesis but throughout my graduate training. I would like to express my genuine appreciation to Dr. Shannon Suldo for her continued dedication, guidance, and feedback during the development of this thesis. Secondly, I would like to acknowledge my committee members, Drs. Kathy Bradl e y Klug and Constance Hines for their contributions and guidance. I owe the success of this process to the unyielding dedication and support that I have received from each of my committee members. I would like to thank my parents for their continued encouragement and love that motivates me to pers evere
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract vi Chapter One: In troduction 1 Theoretical and Conceptual Framework 4 Purpose 5 Research Questions 6 Operational Definition of Terms 6 Importance of Current Study 8 Chapter Two: Review of the Lite rature 10 Hap piness Defined 11 Measurement of Life Satisfaction 12 Importance of Life Satisfaction in Youth 13 Factors Related to Life Satisfaction in Youth 15 Demographic C orrelates 15 Interpersonal C orrelates 17 Environmental C orrelates 19 Intrapersonal C orrelates 21 Person ality and Life Satisfaction 22 Theory of Personality 28 Gender Differences in Personality 31 Assessment of Personality 33 Limitations of Extant Literature 35 Summary of Literat ure Review 37 Purpose of Current Study 39 Chapter Three: Method 41 Desig n 41 Sample 41 Measures 44 Life Satisfaction Scale 44 Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale 47 Adolescent Personal Styles Inventory 49 Procedure s 52
ii Overview of Data Analysis Plan 53 Descriptive Analyses 53 Research Question 1 53 Research Question 2 53 Research Question 3 54 Research Question 4 54 Research Question 5 55 Ethical Considerations 57 Chapter Four: Results 59 Data Screening 59 Outliers 59 Comparison of Subgroups Within Sample 60 Descriptive Statistics 63 I nternal Consistency 63 Research Question 1 64 Research Question 2 6 6 Model Assumptions 66 Multiple Regression 68 Research Question 3 6 9 Research Question 4 69 Research Question 5 74 Identification 74 Chapter Five: Discussion 84 Findings and Im plications 84 Descriptive Information 84 Associations B etween Personality Factors and Adolescent Life Satisfaction 8 5 Overall Contribution of Personality to Adolescent Life Satisfaction 87 Satisfaction 88 Gender Differences in the Link between Personality and Life Satisfaction 90 The Role of Perceived Classmate Support in the Relationship Between Personality and Life Satisfaction 91 Contribution to the Literature 93 Implication s for Practice 101 Limitations of the Current Study 103 Directions for Future Research 104 References 108
iii Appendices 129 Appendix A: Parental Consent Form 130 Appendix B: Student Assent Form 133 136 A ppendix D: Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale 137 Appendix E: Adolescent Personal Styles Inventory 138 Theoretical and Conceptual Framework 4
iv List of Tables Table 1 Demographic Characteristics of Sample (N = 625) 43 Table 2 Intercorrelations and R esults F rom Fishers r to Z transformations 62 Table 3 Means, Standard Deviations, Intercorrelations, and Coefficient Alphas for Variables (N = 612) 65 Table 4 Personality Factors Regressed on Life Sati sfaction (N = 612) 68 Table 5 Multiple Regression with Personality, Gender, and Interacti on Terms a s Predictors of Adolescent Life Satisfaction (N = 612) 70 Table 6 Follow Up Regression Analyses Probing the Effect of Gender in Predicting Life Satisfaction From Agreeableness 73 Table 7 Fit Indices for Initial and Final Models 76 Table 8 Standardized Path Coefficients and R 2 Values for the Measurement Portion of the Final Model 77 Table 9 Standardized Path Coefficients for the Theoretical Model of Relationships A mong Latent Factors 80 Table 10 Cov ariances Among Latent Personality Factors 82
v List of Figures Figure 1 The Role of Perceived Classm ate Support in the Relationship B etween Personality Factors and Life Satisfaction 57 Figure 2 Structural Equation Model in Which Life Satisfaction is Predicted b y Perceived C lassmate Support and Fo ur Personality Factors 81
vi Interrelationships among Personality, Perceived Classmate Support, and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents Devon Renee Minch ABSTRACT The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationships among personality factors and life satisfaction in high school students. High school students ( N = 625) completed self report measures of personality characteristics ( namely, extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) and global life satisfaction Results include the specific contribution of each of these personality dimension s as they relate to life satisfaction, gender differences and the role of perceived classmate support in relationship s between personality factors and life satisfaction Specifically, findings revealed that about 45 % of the variance in scores was accounted for by their self reported measures of personalit y factors N euroticism emerged as the strongest predictor of life satisfaction Further, results demonstrated that o penne ss, conscientiousness, and extraversion were significant and unique predictors of life satisfaction. Gender differences were found in the link between agreeableness and life satisfaction such that a higher level of agreeableness was related to higher life satisfaction for girls, but not for boys. Finally, results of the structural equation model that analyzed the role of perceived classmate support in the link between personality factors and life satisfaction revealed significant paths between four personal ity factors
vii (excluding openness) and perceived classmate support. Further, the path from extraversion to perceived classmate support showed the strongest standardized path coefficient (.42) ; suggesting that a higher s core on extraversion was associated with a higher level of perceived classmate support which, in turn, predicted higher levels of life satisfaction Neuroticism demonstrated the strongest, albeit inverse, direct path to life satisfaction, further supporting the finding that higher levels of neuroticism were related to lower levels of life satisfaction. Findings provide school psychologists with a better understanding of the demographic (i.e., gender) stable (i.e., personality) and interpersonal characteristics (i.e., perceptions o f classmate support) that place students at risk for negative outcomes via low life satisfaction or, conversely, facilitate optimal wellness via high life satisfaction
1 Chapter 1 Introduction Statement of the Problem Traditionally, psychologists interpreted the absence of disease to mean mental health as such, assessments focused on states of pathology rather than po sitive indicators of wellness. I n reaction to the historical focus on patholog y and disease a new field within psychology emerge d known as positive psycholo gy that questioned the understanding of happiness as the absence of illness (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Increasingly, researchers and practitioners have moved beyond th e focus on that includes positive indicators of well being R ather than the typical approach that relies on treatmen t of individuals with pathology life and are difficult to improve positive psychology is based upon a prevention framework whereby assessing positive indicators of well being helps to target students at risk for negative outcomes in order to focus prevention efforts before problems become severe (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Subjective well being (i.e., happiness) is a key construct within the positive psychology movement (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The most often studied a spect of subjective well being (i.e., happiness) is the cognitive component known as life satisfaction (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999). Life satisfaction is conceptualized as with life o
2 satisfaction in specific domains of life. The domains of life most relevant to children include satisfaction with school, friends, family, self, and living environments (Huebner, being and happines s are becoming a main focus within psychology a growing body of empirical research demonstrates the emotional adjustment (Huebner, Suldo, Smith, & McKnight, 2004). High life satisfaction in youth is inversely related to negative outcomes, including anxiety and risk behaviors such as alcohol use, drug use, and aggre ssion (Gilman & Huebner, 2003). Additionally, life satisfaction can buffer against the development of pr oblem behaviors after experiencing stressful life events (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). Life satisfaction is also a pathway through which negative experiences influence cognitive a ppraisals of their satisfaction with life functioned as a mediator between stressful life events and their internalizing behaviors Identifying factors that are most highly correlated with adolescent life satisfaction can help psychologists by (a) revealin g how much of the variance in life satisfaction is attributable to stable conditions (e.g., demographic characteristics, personality) as opposed to malleable situations (e.g., social relationships, activities), and (b) discerning those important malleable areas where intervention efforts should be emphasized. Recent research with children has underscored the importance of understanding life satisfaction during youth by demonstrating that students with high life satisfaction and minimal psychopathology had b etter educational achievement (i.e., higher scores on statewide achievement tests, higher school grades, better attendance, more positive attitudes
3 towards school) than their peers who also had minimal psychopathology but reported low life satisfaction (S uldo & Shaffer, 2008). A full understanding of the correlates of life satisfaction is essential, partly so that mental health professionals can know which factors are most likely to place students at risk for low life satisfaction. According to Diener an d Lucas (1999) personality is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of subjective wel l being during the adult years. Preliminary traits: neuroticism and extraversion ( Heaven, 1989; Huebner 1991b; McKnight et al., 2002). To date, no published studies have examined life satisfacti on in children and adolescents in relation to all five primary personality traits [ i.e., the Five Factor Model; ( FFM) ] T hus, it is unknown which personality characteristics are most related to life satisfaction in youth. Fortunately, recent advances in me asurement have led to the availability of self report instruments that measure the FFM personality traits in youth, making possible such a comprehensive study of personality and life satisfaction (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Overall, life satisfaction is rel ated to a number of important outcomes for youth however, research on the relationship between one important predictor (specifically, personality) and life satisfaction is limited. E xtraversion and neuroticism show consistent corr elations with life satisfa ction (Emmons & Diener, 1986; Heaven, 1989; Huebner 1991b; Diener & Lucas, 1999; McKnight et al., 2002; Pavot, Fujita, & Diener, 1997) However, research in this area is limited by the use of different scales in measuring personality (e.g., a 3 factor vs. 5 factor measure) and life satisfaction (e.g., multidimensional vs. global measure). An additional limitation is the predominant focus
4 on adult populations. T hus very little is known about the relationship between life satisfaction and three of the less s tudied personality dimensions (i.e., agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness) after extraversion and neuroticism are controlled. Researchers have yet to include all five major personality dimensions in studies of predictors of life satisfaction. Giv en the stability of personality and life satisfact ion and the ease with which these constructs can be measured in youth, a more thorough investigation of all five personality dimensions as they relate to life satisfaction is warranted. Theoretical and Conceptual Framework Positive psychology aims to identify variables that contribute to healthy development in adolescence (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Traditionally, healthy development has been marked by the absence of psychopathology; however, m odern conceptualizations of healthy development include the presence of positive indicators, such as life satisfaction (Greenspoon & Sa k l ofske, 2001). Relying on the traditional model limits the range of services mental health professionals can provide to individuals. better identified which will help with intervention implementation and maintenance. In addition treatment from a positive psychology framework enables psyc hologists to aim for improvements in functioning beyond a reduction in symptoms to gains in quality of life. Positive psychology promotes healthy, optimum development in youth. Elevated life satisfaction is inversely related to emotional concerns and exter nalizing behavior problems (Suldo & Huebner, 2004a, 2004b; Valois, Zullig, Huebner, & Drane, 2001).
5 Personality theory provides the FFM of personality traits (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, o penness, and conscientiousness), which resear ch has demonstrated are (Diener 2000; DeNeve & Cooper, 1998). There has been less research with younger populations Such rese arch is needed because personality is more malleable in youth ( Soto, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2008; Steinberg, 2002 ). I nvestigating gender differences in personality and the role of perceived support from classmates in the personality life satisfaction lin k will provide importan t information on how best to improve life satisfaction for adolescent boys and girls. Schools provide a context through which adolescents can receive mental health services to improve relationships with classmates and subsequently improve their life satisfaction. Purpose The purpose of the current study was to determine the overall contribution of personality to life satisfaction and the unique contribution of each FFM trait (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, consci entiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness) to life satisfaction Additionally, g ender differences were examined to determine if the relationships between personality and life satisfaction are consistent for boys and girls. Finally, the role of per ceived classmate support in the relationship between personality and life satisfaction was examined via analysis of a structural equation model. Given the strong links that have been established between ( 1) extraversion and perceptions of supportive social relationships (Gray, 1991; Lucas et al., 2000; Watson & Clark, 1997) and ( 2) positive perceptions of social support and life satisfaction ( Lewinsohn et al., 1991; Pavot, Diener, & Fujita, 1990 ; Suldo & Huebner, 2006 ), the current study
6 hypothesized that extraversion is related to life satisfaction indirectly, through perceived classmate support An indirect relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction, mediated by perceptions of social support and relationships has been demonstrated in previou s studies (Argyle & Lu, 1990b; Fogle et al., 2002). Given the lack of literature to guide an a prio r i hypothesis regarding the role of perceived classmate support in the link between the remaining four personality factors and life satisfaction, these four factors were hypothesized to directly and indirectly ( i.e., through perceived classmate support) relate to life satisfaction. Results from the analysis of a structural equation model were expected to provide information re perceptions of classmate support in the link between personality factors and life satisfaction. Research Questions 1. Which personality factors have significant associations with adolescent life satisfaction? 2. What is the over all contribution of personality to adolescent life satisfaction? 3. Which personality factors are uniquely and most strongly associated with life satisfaction? 4. Is the relationship between personality and life satisfaction consistent across genders? 5. Does perc eived classmate support mediate the relationship between personality factors and life satisfaction? Operational Definitions of Terms Life satisfaction is an indicator of mental health and well being that measures with life (Diener et al., 1999).
7 Adolescence was defined by sample characteristics that included high school students between the ages of 13 and 19 years. The Five Factor Model (FFM) is a theory of pe rsonality, also known as trait theory, which assumes personality is a collection of individual traits that are relatively stable over time, different among individuals, and influential on behavior (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2004). The FFM proposes a set of five personality dimensions under which multiple descriptors can be categorized. The FFM is useful in that it employed factor analysis to organize a large number of traits under a five broad dimensions to facilitate the understanding of personality (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness ; Costa & McCrae, 1992a). Personality was operationally the traits and behaviors that reflect each of the FFM dimensions of personali ty (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) using the Adolescent Personal Style Inventory (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Items on the APSI were created based upon Costa and conceptual definitions of each personality factor (Lounsbury et al., 2003) Neuroticism refers to emotional instability including the specific descriptors: anxiety, hostility, depression, self consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Sample APSI i tems meas uring neuroticism include I get mad easily I sometimes feel sad or blue Extraversion is a social and active dimension including six facets: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement seeking, and positive emotions. Sample APSI items measuring extraversion include
8 Openness to experience refers to willingness to try new things and ideas including six aspects: fantasy, aesthetics, feelin gs, actions, ideas, and values. Sample APSI items measuring openness include like to learn Conscientiousness is the dutiful, deliberate, and competent dimension including six facets: order, achievement striving, deliberation, competence, self discipline, and dutifulness. Sample APSI items measuring conscientiousness include I finish everything Agreeableness complia nce, tender mindedness, straightforwardness, trust, and modesty (Costa & McCrae, 1992a). Sample APSI items measuring agreeableness include ge whenever t P erceived classmate support was operationally the frequency of social support that they perceived receiving from classmates. I mportance of Current Study P revious research on personality and life satisfaction is limited in adolescent populations such that studies have not included all of the FFM personality traits. Therefore, the current study add s to previous research by identifying all personality dimensions that are highly related with adolescen t life satisfaction as well as mechanisms
9 (i.e., perceptions of classmate relationships) through which those dimensions relate to life satisfaction. Research in this area can help psychologists by revealing how much of the variance in life satisfaction is attributable to stable conditions (e.g., demographic characteristics, personality) as opposed to malleable situations (e.g., social relationships ) Implications for school based prevention focus on identification of personality traits that may be viewed as risk factors for problematic development. For students at risk, social skill training and facilitating positive student interactions through assignments and class activities offer possible mechanisms for facilitating wellness. A full understanding of the correlates of life satisfaction is needed for prevention efforts that are targeted towards youth at risk for low life satisfaction The importance of such efforts is demonstrated by the growing body of literature that demonstrates the salience of life satisfaction to
10 Chapter 2 Review of Literature Traditionally, psychologists have focused on assessing states of pathology rather than po sitive indic ators of wellness. As such, psychologists interpreted the absence of disease to mean mental health. In reaction to the historical focus on pathology and disease, the understanding of happiness as the absence of illness has come into question (Selig man & Cs ikszentmihalyi, 2000). Increasingly, researchers have moved beyond the focus on pathology to incorporate comprehensive assessments satisfaction with life. Research has evolved to include objective, extern al indicators of quality of life as well as internal characteristics and processes that indicators of positive well being to target prevention efforts rather than the typi cal approach that relies on treatment of individuals with pathology, after problems have Csikszentmihalyi 2000 ). Greenspoon and Saklofske (2001) found empirical support for examinin g indicators of wellness rather than solely relying on indicators of pathology in order to understand the adjustment of all youth. The following literature review begins with a review of research on the importance of examining life satisfaction in youth, followed by correlates of life satisfaction including interpersonal, environmental and intrapersonal f actors. Due to the
11 discussion of personality and the relati onship between personality characteristics and life satisf action is provided. Finally, the purpose of the current study and hypotheses are presented. Happiness Defined One of the first steps in studying wellness was to defi ne what is meant by which was termed scientifically as subjective well being (SWB). According SWB includes emotional responses, global judgments of life Rega rding SWB Diener and colleagues suggest that examining the occurrence of both positive and negative emotions provides a more thorough understanding of the indivi Whereas emotions can change of ten and quickly, life satisfaction is considered a more stable indicator of SWB (Diener et al., 1999). Life satisfaction (also referred to as perceived quality of life [PQOL]) refers tisfaction with different domains of life (e.g., friends, fam ily, and school; Huebner, Suldo, & Gilman 2006). needs, goals, and wishes are being met in important areas of li fe. The domains of life most relevant to children include satisfaction with school, friends, family, self, and living environments (Huebner et al. 1998). Global life e (Huebner et al., 2006).
12 (Huebner et al. 2006). Because life satisfaction is a subjective characteristic, self report measures have been created to assess both global and domain specific satisfaction with life. Measurement of Life Satisfaction As noted previously, SWB is comprised of an affective component as well as a cognitive com ponent (Pavot & Diener, 1993). Diener and colleagues (1999) suggest that because SWB is a complex phenomena it should be measured using global judgments, momentary mood reports, physiology, mem ory, and emotional expression. Research has supported the validity of easy to administer self report measures of life satisfaction, which are more conducive to efficient research and practice. One global measure, the Satisfaction with Life (SWL) scale, is a widely used measure of life satisfaction in adults; the SWL has established reliability and va lidity (Pavot & Diener, 1993). The items are global in nature rather than domain specific to allow the individual to weigh aspects of their lives according to their own standards (Pavot & Diener, 1993). The Quality of Life Inventory (Q that has established reliability and validity ( Fri sch et al., 2005). The QOLi is a longer certain areas of life. This s cale provides four subscale scores including satisfaction with health, social economic, psychological spiritual, and family (Frisch et al., 2005). The SWL, QOLi and others have been successfully used with adults for decades; fewer measures have been developed for use with youth. The indicator of global life
13 (SLSS; Huebner, 1991a), which has been administered to elementary aged children as well as adolescents in midd le and high school The SLSS is a 7 item global measure of life satisfaction with established reliability and validity (Huebner, 1991a). More complex and often lengthier questionnaires have been created to tap satisfaction with important domains within ch family, friends, and school). The Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale School Version, Fifth Edition ( ComQoL; Cummins, 1997) scale provides domain specific satisfaction scores. The LSS; Huebner, 1994) provides a general life satisfaction score in addition to domain scores focusing on areas such as friends, family, school, self and living environment and has established reliability and validity (Huebner, 1994). Seligson and colleague s (2003) created the Brief item measure that can act as a screening tool. The research on all measures with youth is still in progress, although preliminary studies consistently support relia bility and validity of these measures. Importance of Life Satisfaction in Youth Life satisfaction is important in and of itself (for instance, most adults want children to be happy) but it also influences multiple outcomes during development. Lewinsohn, Redner an d S eeley (1991) found that non depressed adults with low life satisfaction were more likely to become depressed two or three years later as compared to those adults who initially reported avera ge or high life satisfaction. In youth, low life
14 sat isfaction has been found to be concurrently inversely related to negative outcomes, including anxiety and risk behaviors such as alcohol use, drug use, and aggres sion (Gilman & Huebner, 2003). Low levels of life satisfaction may also be predictive of later externalizing behavior problems (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b), thus it is important to identify these adolescents before problems manifest. As a mediator, life satisfaction explains the relationship between several variables and outcomes (i.e., environmental circumstances influence life satisfaction which, in turn, relates to outcomes), whereas life satisfaction as a moderator is thought of as an interaction betwe en a variable and the outcome. As a moderator, life satisfaction has been demonstrated to allevia te the effects of stressful life events on the development of problem behavior in adolescents (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). Specifically, Suldo and Huebner (2004b) studied adolescents for one year and found high life satisfaction can act as a buffer against th e development of problem behaviors after experiencing a stressful life event. As a mediating variable, life satisfaction can explain the relationship between parenting styles an d adolescent problem behavior. Suldo and Huebner (2004a) studied 1,188 adoles cents between the ages of 11 and 19, finding life satisfaction explains the relationship between authoritative parenting and levels of externalizing and in ternalizing problem behaviors. Another example of how life satisfaction serves as an important cognit ive mediator through which outcomes are influenced was provided by a study of ress. In this study, adolescents completed the Youth Self Report (YSR) form of the Child Behavior Checklist (a measure of problem behaviors) and the Life Events
15 Check list (a measure of m ajor life events; McKnight et al., 2002). Results suggested that between experiencing stressful life events and adolesc In other words, adolescents who reported frequent stressful events reported lower life satisfaction, which in turn, was related to higher levels of internalizing psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression (McKnight et al., 2002). Factors Related to Life Satisfaction in Youth Previous research has attempted to discover those factors that are most related to high life satisfaction in part to provide insight as to where intervention efforts should be emphasized. Originally, the focus was on objective f actors related to life satisfaction but researchers found demographic variables and other objective circumstances accounted for less than 20% of the variance in life satisfaction, thus demonstrating a need for more focus on subjective and internal factors related to subjective well being (Campbell, Converse, & Rogers, 1976 ). Demographic c orrelates In general, studies have found variables such as gender, ife satisfaction (Huebner, 2004 ). For instance, Raphael, Rukholm, Brown, Hill Bailey, and Donato (1996) studied 160 Canadian adolescents in grades 9 13 using the Quality of Life Profile: Adolescent Version (QOLPAV), a 54 personal sat isfaction with nine different sub domains; scores on the QOLPAV correlated highly with a 3 item Satisfaction with Life (SWL) measure Socioeconomic status as
16 to life s atisfaction (Raphael et al., 1996). One demographic variable slightly related to life satisfaction in youth is age. While most children and adolescents typically report high levels of life satisfaction (Huebner, Drane, & Valois, 2000; Huebner et al., 2006) Suldo and Huebner (2004a) found total life satisfaction scores tend to decline slightly during adolescence. Most of the research with respect to age and life satisfaction across the lifespan suggests that once other variables are controlled there are not significant declines in life satisfaction with regards to age ( Diener et al., 1999 ) Gender differences in life satisfaction have not been observed in most studies involving adult Americans (Helliwell, 2003). In addition, Fujita, Diener, and Sandvik (19 91) found women experience more intense emotions (i.e., the affective compone nt of SWB) compared to men. emotions balance out, resulting in similar mean levels of affect to that of men (Fujita et a l., 1991). Research conducted with youth has also failed to find significant differences between differences in global life satisfaction ratings of children between the ages of 7 an d 14. A different such that girls reported more satisfaction with school and friends compared to boys (Huebner, Drane et al., 2000). However, the effect sizes were moderate s uggesting limited practical significance ( Huebner, Drane et al., 2000). Although most studies have not found significant gender differences in mean levels of life satisfaction in youth,
17 gender is included in the current paper due to the possibility of gender differences in personality (Rigby & Huebner, 2005) that could influence global life satisfaction. Interpersonal correlates. Due to limited demographic differences in life sat isfaction, researchers have investigated interpersonal factors that could be related to l ife satisfaction in youth. One study with adults found high life satisfaction was related to perceptions of social support and feeling content in relationships with ot hers, while low life satisfaction was related to perceiving a lack of support from friends (Lewinsohn et al. 1991). These findings have implications for young adolescents as this is a crucial time for developing positive relationships with classmate s who become a main source of support and intimacy (Steinberg, 2002). Research with youth has demonstrated interpersonal relationships are an essential predictor of life satisfaction (Ash & Huebner, 2001; Huebner, Funk, & Gilman, 2000). Nickerson and Nagle (20 04) researched children and adolescents between the age s of 8 and 11 using the MSLSS. Children who perceived relationships with friends that were loyal and trusting had higher life satisfaction (Nickerson & Nagle 2004 ) Additionally, peer alienation and r ejection were inversely related to life satisfaction, demonstrating the importance of close and dependable relationships in middle and late childhood (Nickerson & Nagle 2004 ). rated social competence was unrelated to life satisfaction; however, self reported perceived social competence was significantly related to life satisfaction. One way for adolescents to improve peer relationships is by increasing their social interactions and building social
18 competence through practice and involvement in organized social activities, especially for extraverted ind ividuals (Argyle & Lu, 1990a). Research has demonstrated that participation in structured, meaningful activities (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and participation in school related activities (e.g., structured extracurricular activities) is on with school (Gilman, 2001). with school is related to global life satisfaction (Huebner, Drane et al. 2000). S ocial support and life satisfaction have been investigated in relation to one another in a single study (Suldo & Huebner, 2006). Findings demonstrated that adolescents with the highest life satisfaction also perceived the highest levels of social support from their clas smates, teachers, and parents. A larger body of literature has shown social support to predic t adaptive behaviors in youth. Specifically p erceiving the relationship with a close friend as supportive is cor related with adaptive behaviors such as higher ratings of personal adjustment, interpersonal relations and self relian ce (Demaray & Malecki, 2002b). An earlier study found adolescents w ho perceived the most social support from their peers also reported the highest levels of perceived self worth (East, Hess, & Lerner, 1987) a construct related to life satisfaction. Natvig, Albrektsen, and Qvarnstrom (2003 ) found adolescents who reported the highest levels of happiness also reported the highest perceptions of social supp ort from teachers and friends. their teachers have been investigated as an important interpersonal correlate of life satisf action in youth (Ba ker, 1999). Baker (1999) administered the MSLSS and a measure of social support in school to students in grades 3 8. Children who reported high satisfaction with school also reported more social
19 support from teachers compared to students who repor t ed low s atisfaction with school. Taken together, these studies demonstrate the importance of peer and teacher relationships as correlate s of life satisfaction in youth. Environmental c orrelates In addition to peer and teacher relationships, relationships with faction (Dew & Huebner, 1994). For instance Leung and Zhang (2000 ) compared the relative influences of interpersonal relationships and intrapersonal factors (e.g. self concept) and found relations hips, specifically relationships with parents, had a greater influen satisfaction. become strained, however, maintaining a positive parent adolescent relationship i s A specific style of parenting, authoritative, is particularly associated with life satisfaction (Suldo & Huebner, 2004a) Authoritative parenting relies on warm and supportive intera ctions with reasonable expectations and demands (Steinberg, 2002). The more adolescents feel their parents support them the higher their life satisfaction (Suldo & Huebner, 2004a). Social support from parents is especially important for younger, rather th an older adolescents, because older adolescents begin to rely more on peer relationships rather than parental support (Suldo & Huebner, 2004a ). A lack of authoritative parenting is associated with low life satisfaction in addition to other negative outcome s (i.e., internalizing and externalizing behavior p roblems; Flouri & Buchanan, 2002; Suldo & Huebner, 2004a ). This type of parenting may be especially
20 their life is si gnificantly related to their life satisfaction (Flouri & Buchanan, 2002). Although strong relationships have been found between adolescent life satisfaction and parental relationships, research has found possible racial differences in the degree to which family structure influences life satisfaction. Specifically, Zullig, Valois, Huebner, and Drane (2005) found the strong relationship between high life satisfaction and living with both parents held for white adolescents but not for African American youth. The home environment has strong influences on life satisfaction such that chronic stressors (e.g., ongoing family discord) negatively affect life satisfaction in adolescents, while acute negative events (e.g., death of a family member) are mediated by ad control (Ash & Huebner, 2001) McCullough, Huebner, and Laughlin (2000) found that daily, ongoing, positive, and negative experiences (e.g., chronic family discord) correlated with global life satisfaction, underscoring the importance of the cumulative effects of daily interactions on levels of life satisfaction in youth. In addition to the home environment as an in fluence on life satisfaction, research has demonstrated a relationship between larger contextual factors (e.g., living in a residential neighborhood) and adolescent life satisfaction (Homel & Burns, 1989). Overall, research suggests that family environment s and relationships provide the basis of later relationships and these interpersonal skills are practiced throughout development in various contexts (Hazan & Shaver, 1994) Research has demonstrated parental attachment as an important predictor of adolesce nt life sati sfaction (Ma &
21 Huebner, 2008). Authoritative parenting creates a supportive emotional environment where by positive interpersonal relationship skills are developed and reinforced e arly in life (Fuligni & Eccles, 1993). These relationship patter ns are related to one feeling Intrapersonal c orrelates I ntrapersonal mechanisms (e.g., cognitions, esteem, and personality) influence adolescent life satisfaction. For instance, Gilman and Ashb y (2003) found adolescents who continuously strive for perfection (e.g., set challenging expectations that require much effort to attain) report lower life satisfaction. In trapersonal correlates o f life satisfaction include feelings of competence, self esteem, cognitive attributio n styles and locus of control. For example, Dew and Huebner (1994) found and in a positive direction with having an internal locus of control. Moreover, locus of control can be viewed as the means through which experiencing negative life events influences life satis faction (Ash & Huebner, 2001). After experiencing a major life event, adolescents who maintained a glo bal, internal sense of control had higher life satisfaction (Ash & Huebner, 2001; Meyers & Diener, 1995 ). Another study found adolescents with an adaptive attribution style (i.e., the tendency to attribute negative events to things that are external, unsta ble, and specific and positive events to things that are internal, stable, and global) had higher life satisfaction, while having a maladaptive attribution style was related to low life satisfaction (Rigby & Huebner, 2005). Lewinso h n et al. (1991) found a dults who reported higher self esteem also repo rted higher life satisfaction. Self esteem refers to
22 worth and the feeling associated with those j In youth these subjective evaluations are impo competence and feelings about their ability to succeed are related to life satisfaction more than objective indicators of achievement (Leung McBride Chang, & Lai, 2004). Similarly, perceptions of social competence, rather than objective indicators, are more influential on adolescent self reports of life satisfaction (Fogle et al., 2002). In addition to evaluative perceptions and feelings of competence, self concept is also related to life satisfaction in a positive direction (Dew & Huebner, 19 94). Adolescents with a positive self image with peers, academics, and family have higher life satis faction (Dew & Huebner, 1994). may mediate the relationship b etween personality characteristics (e.g., extroversion) and life satisfaction (Fogle et al. 2002). Specifically perceptions of social relationships influence their satisfaction with life and might provide meditational mechanisms between pers onality and life satisfaction. Personality and Life Satisfaction Personality is one of the strongest and most consistent intrapersonal predictors of SWB (Diener & Lucas, 1999; Lucas, Diener, Grob, Suh, & Shao, 2000). Some researchers hypothesize that stability in SWB is a result of stability in personality, given that personality can predict SWB over time (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998; Headey & Wearing, 1989; Steel et al., 2008). In addition, personality and life satisfaction share similar characteristics including a slight genetic and biological basis, an ability to be measured reliably beginning in youth, and stability over time (Steel et al., 2008).
23 A recent meta analysis of research on personality and life satisfaction s uggested satisfaction and overall affect, respectively (Steel et al., 2008). The variance in SWB accounted for by personality is much higher than previously suggested (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998); the authors state recent attention to measures and theoretical conceptualizations of constructs used within studies provide accurate results (Steel et al., 2008). Most studies on personality and SWB have focused on emotions (e.g., positi ve and negative affect) rather than the stable, cognitive aspect of SWB, life satisfaction (see Steel et al., 2008). Research continues to demonstrate a strong relationship between (1) extroversion and positive affect and (2) neuroticism and negative affec t (Lucas & Diener, 2000). Research also consistently points to extroversion and neuroticism as the personality traits most related to life satisfaction (Emmons & Diener, 1986; Heaven, 1989; Huebner 1991b; Diener & Lucas, 1999; McKnight et al., 2002; Pavot, Fujita, & Diener, 1997). However, this research is confounded by strong correlations between extraversion and (a) positive affect, and (b) social aspects (e.g., social competence, social interactions, and social skills ; Argyle & Lu, 1990a, 19 90b; Diener & Seligman, 2002). One hypothesis suggests personality, social interaction, and life satisfaction are related because individuals with high life satisfaction are more sensitive to rewards (Gray, 1991 ) Thus, individuals with high life satisfaction perceive social interactions as more rewarding, and demonstrate more extraverted behavior (Fogle et al., 2002). Support for this theory is demonstrated in individuals with high life satisfaction who attain more
24 goals and experience positive outcomes (Cantor & Sande rson, 1999; Lyubormirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). A related hypothesis maintains that extraversion is related to life satisfaction through social interaction but the directions of the pathways are swapped such that life satisfaction is the outcome and personality the predictor The theoretical explanation for the influence of personality on life satisfaction follows; extraverts are inherently natural and skill ful at being around others (Watson & Clark, 1997), and this may influence their sensitivity to perceiving those situations as rewarding (Gray, 1991). Increased exposure to social interactions contributes to better social relationships via increased opportu nities for practice, feedback, and social pleasure thus increasing their life satisfaction. This hypothesis is supported by research that suggests extroverts are more sensitive to rewards and less sensitive to punishments in their environment, and that th e sociability component of extraversion is a result of greater reward sensitivity (Lucas et al., 2000). Moreover, sensitivity and sociability are primary features of extraversion, further supporting this hypothesis (Lucas et al., 2000). Social relationship s likely exert a direc t effect on life satisfaction as suggested by findings that both introverts and extroverts report higher life satisfaction in social compared to non social settings (Pavot, Diener, & Fujita, 1990) and that healthy social relationship s are among the most defining features of very happy adults ( Diener & Seligman, 2002). The following paragraphs will summarize additional research pertaining to personality and life satisfaction. Argyle and Lu (1990b) administered measures of happiness (O xford Happiness Inventory [ OHI ] ) and personality (Eysen c k Personality Questionnaire [ EPQ ] ) to 63 adults
25 (age M = 37.6). Results demonstrate extraversion correlated positively with happiness ( r = .35) while neuroticism correlated negatively ( r = .45). Moreover, extroversion influenced SWB by increasing assertive social actions (i.e., initiating interactions) while neuroticism negatively influenced SWB via a lack of social competence (Argyle & Lu, 1990b). In a similar study, Argyle and Lu (1990a) furth er investigated the relationship between extraversion and SWB. This study included the OHI, the Extraversion subscale of the EPQ and a measure of social activity (including frequenc y and enjoyment of activities). One hundred thirty one college students age s 20 and 21 were included in the study. 1990a). Fogle et al. (2002) conducted a similar study with a cognitive measure of social competence and extended these relationships to early adolescents. Measures of life satisfaction (SLSS), personality (Abbreviated Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire [JEPQ A]), teacher rated social co mpetence (the Interpersonal Skills subscale of the School Social Behavior Survey), and social self efficacy (Social Self Concept subscale of the Student Self Concept Scale) were administered to 160 early adolescents betwee n the ages of 10 and 15 years. Res related to extraversion ( r = 22), neuroticism ( r = .33), and perceived social self efficacy ( r = .29), but not teacher reported social competence. Additionally, regression analyses demonstrated social self efficacy acted as a mediator in the relationship between
26 extraversion and life satisfaction, but not for the relationship between neur oticism and life satisfaction. In other words, youth with more extroversion held better beliefs about their social abilities and, in turn, reported higher life satisfaction. McKnight et al. (2002) administered the JEPQ A and the SLSS to 1,201 students in grades 6 12. Results replicated previous findings that personality wa s related to life satisfaction specif ically, neuroticism correlated more strongly ( r = .39) than extroversion ( r = .21). These two personality dimensions accounted for c lose to one fifth of the satisfaction Additional stud ies have found similar results, althou gh a weaker correlation between extroversion and life satisfaction is typically reported in younger samples suggesting developmental influences on the relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 2001; Heaven, 1989; McK night et al., 2002; Rigby & Huebner, 2005 ). Heaven (1989) rep orted results from two studies. In the first study 99 older adolescents ( M = 16.79 years) were administered the JEPQ and SWL. In the second study, consisting of 194 youth ages 16 18, an addition al measure of soci al attitudes was administered. Extroversion was found to be unrelated to life satisfaction in the first study ( r = .10, ns ), and weakly correlated with life satisfaction in the second study ( r = 14, p < .05); however, a significant relationship between life satisfaction and neuroticism ( r = .44, p < .001; r = .40, p < .001) was demonstrated in each study. Rigby and Huebner (2005) administered the SLSS and a measure of personality (the Extraversion and Emotional Stability subscale report
27 measure) to 212 high school students neuroticism ( r = .29, p <.01) than extroversion ( r = .09, ns ; Rigby & Huebner, 2005) Taken together, the results of these studies and other studies demonstrating similar results with youth (Greenspoon & Saklofske, 2001) suggest that extroversion is more strongly related to life satisfaction in adulthood than in youth, although a significant (albeit small to moderate) association bet ween extraversion and life satisfaction in youth is likely. Researchers have hypothesized theoretical explanations for the less prominent relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction during adolescence. A possible explanation may be the reorgani concept that occurs during adolescence (Berk, 2006). Personality processes may be undergoing rapid transitions, lessening the relationships between personality and life satisfaction for adolescents (Eccles et al., 1989). A more widely (e.g., friends and classmates) becomes increasingly important during this time (Steinberg, 2002), thus the established correlation between extraversion and life satisfaction may be due to successful and enjoyable social interactions rather than extroversion per se (Argyle & Lu, 1990a, Emmons & Diener, 1986 Fogle et al., 2002 ). Studies suggest strong links between extraversion and (1) social competence ( Argyle & Lu, 1990a) and (2) quality s ocial relationships (Fogle et al., 2002). Additionally strong links have been established between positive perceptions of friendships (Nickerson & Nagle, 2004) perceived social support from cla ssmates (Suldo & Huebner, 2006) with life satisfaction Taken together, these studies suggest extraversion relates to life satisfaction through perceptions of social
28 relationships. The mediating role of social perceptions is supported in previous studies demonstrating that perceptions of their social co mpetence mediate d the relationship between extraversion and life satisfact ion (Argyle & Lu, 1990b; Fogle et al., 2002) Thus, the relationship between extroversion and life satisfaction is likely indirect and may be better explained by the social perceptions and social behaviors (e.g., perceiving social activities as more rewarding, demonstrating well developed social skills, etc.) of extroverts (Argyle & Lu, 1990a, 1990b; Fogle et al., 2002; Steel et al., 2008) Thus, studies demonstrating strong direct links between extraversion and life satisfaction may be neglecting an important mediating variable ( i.e., perceptions of classmate support ). The present thesis hypothesizes that the extraversion life satisfaction link is actually indirect and that t he influence of extraversion on life satisfaction is better perceptions of support from classmate s Importantly, the frequent mention of two specific personality traits ( i.e., extraversion and neuroticism) in this paper thus far may lead the reader to conclude that the construct of personality is syn onymous with these two traits. In reality, these are simply the only two aspects of personality that have been examined in relation to adolescent life satisfaction due to measureme nt limitations for youth personality. The next section of this paper defines the comprehensive construct of personality. Theory of Personality Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniqu ely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in vario us situations (Ryckman, 2004). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
29 of Mental Disorders ( DSM IV TR) states personality traits are "enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts" (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 630). Personality t heories emerged to help explain individual differences. One of the most widely accepted theo ries is known as trait theory. Trait theory assumes that personality is a collection of individual traits that are relatively stable over time, different among individuals, and in fluential on behavior (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman 2004) situations in the form of his/her habits, act frequencies, dispositions, and behavior aggregates In p ersonality research, (Digman, 1990). Collectively, these respons e s make up scales and factors. The characteristics and scales used in research are then organized under five well known a ). The FFM proposes a set of fiv e personality dimensions under which multiple descriptor s can be categorized. The FFM is useful in that it employed factor analysis to organize a large number of traits under a few broad dimensions to facilitate the understanding of personality. As this mo del organized traits through statistical analyses, the discriminate and convergent validity are established (Costa & McCrae, 1992 a ). Therefore, the FFM serves as a defensible approach to measuring personality (Goldberg, 1990).
30 Critics of the five factor m odel emphasize flawed research of the model, suggesting the five dimensions of personality are not valid and comp rehensive (Block, 1995, 2001). However, the majority of research on personality traits suggests there is consensus on five broad dimensions of personality but slight variability in the meaning and language used to describe each of the dimensions (Digman, 1990) Major researchers in the field of personality beginning with Catell (1943) and Norman (1967) have used empirical procedures to create a v alid and reliable personality taxonomy resulting in widespread support for the FFM (Digman, 1990) C ommonly used words within the English language that a re used to describe personality have been subjected to empirical analyses resulting in five broad dimen sions similar in meaning to the FFM demonstrating the comprehensiveness of the model (Goldberg, 1990) The FFM is one of the most widely accepted models for conceptualizing personality (Costa & McCrae, 1992 a ; Digman, 1990 ). The five basic dimensions of personality that have been identified are as follows: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Each broad dimension consists of lower order facets and traits that represent the broader dimension. Neuroticism refers to emot ional instability including these specific descriptors: anxiety, hostility, depression, self consciousness, imp ulsiveness, and vulnerability. Extraversion is a social and active dimension including six components: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, act ivity, excitement seeking, and positive emotions Openness to experience refers to willingness to try new things and ideas including six aspects: fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas and values. Conscientiousness is the
31 dutiful and deliberate dim ension including six qualities : order, achievement striving, deliberation, competence, self discipline, and duti fulness. dimension including constructs such as: altruism, compliance, tender mindedness, straightforwardness, trust and modesty ( Costa & McCrae, 1992 a ). lifespan (Costa & McCrae, 1988 ). However, there is some evidence to suggest thirties due to slight differences in personality during this time (Costa & McCrae, 1994). Slight adaptations in basic qualities and behavioral tendencies r emain unc hanged (Caspi, 1998). Longitudinal approach to people and situations) at age 3 closely predicted their personality at age 18 and age 21 (Caspi, 2000). Gender Differenc es in Personality Most research on gender differences in personality has included adult participants (Feingold, 1994) Results of a meta analysis of studies on gender differences in personality suggests slight differences between men and women, however, me asurement differences (e.g., using a 3 factor vs. a 5 factor approach to personality) limits the ability to generalize and compare studies (Feingold, 1994). Research using a 3 factor model of personality (i.e., a model that measures personality on three dimensions including neuroticism, extroversion and psychoticism) found males scored higher in assertiveness and lower in anxiety compared to females, while females scored higher in areas of trust
32 and nurturance compared to males (Feingold, 1994). Argyle a nd Lu (1990a) found adult females scored higher on extraversion than males however a similar study with college students found no gender differences (Argyle & Lu, 1990b). Research on gender differences in personality with 3 F actor model (i.e., three dimensions of personality including neuroticism, extroversion, and psychoticism) suggests a general trend in which boys scored higher on the Psychoticism scale while girls scored higher on the Neuroticism scale (Francis, 1992, 1993 ; Scholte & De Bruyn, 2001). Fogle et al. (2002) found gender differences in neuroticism on the JEP QR A in early adolescents, with girls scoring s ignificantly higher than boys do Most research using the JEPQ R in adolescents finds no gender differences in extroversion (Argyle & Lu, 1990b ; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975; Scholte & De Bruyn, 2001 ). However, this research is limited in that the JEPQ R does not include all five of the big five personality dimensions. Using the FFM gender differences were found in self reported levels of agreeableness and neuroticism as girls reported more agreeableness and less emotional stability (i.e., the opposite of neuroticism) compared to boys (Graziano, Je nsen Campbell, & Finch, 1997). Mervielde, Buyst, and De Fruyt (1995) f ound gender differences in the predictive ability of personality such that beginning at the age of eight, extraversion and openness predicted academic achievement (i.e., grade point average) for girls better than for boys Most research on gender differenc es in personality is limited in that studies do not test for gender differences in analyses (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998 ) and do not include all of the big five traits (McKnight et al., 2002; Pavot et al. 1997).
33 Assessment of Personality Although personality is a complex phenomenon, research has demonstrated reliable and valid modes of measuring perso nality. Costa and McCrae (1985, 1992 b ) created the Neuroticism, Extroversion and Openness Personality Inventory (NEO PI R) based on the five factor model. Partic ipant responses to statements on a questionnaire resulted in five large categories of persona lity descriptors. The 240 item questionnaire was created to order facet s that make up each domain. The NEO PI R can be shortened to a 60 item measure (the NEO FFI), also a reliable and valid measure of personality. Initial measures used to assess personality were developed for adults; recently, there has been an increased factor approach. Most initial studies investigating personality in youth relied on parent and teacher ratings (Barbaranelli, Caprara, Rabasca, & Pastorelli, 2003 ). Digman and Inouye (1986) investigate d personality in early adolescen ts finding support for the FFM using teacher ratings of s Additionally, teacher ratings of personality demonstrated stability into middle adolescence (Digman & Inouye, 1986). Although parent and teacher reports have proved useful in earlier personality research, later studies found the convergent validity of teacher reports with adolescent self report measures of personality was only moderate (Graziano & Ward, 1992). Self report measures can provide cruci ratings or through observation.
34 Earlier self report measures of personality in youth assessed only some of the big five personality traits, namely extroversion and neuroticism (Zuck erman, 1989). The Junior Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (J EPQ R; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975 ) is a self report measure of adolescent personality that measures extraversion, neuroticism, psychoti cism and includes a Lie scale. The measure consists of 89 items, however, shorter versions with only 48 items (JEPQR S; Corulla, 1990) and 24 items (JEPQR A; Francis, 1996) are available. The JEPQ R has been used with children as young as 11 years and as old as 15 years (De Br uyn, Delsi ng, & Welten, 1995). Additionally, the JEPQ R has been validated for use in other cultures (Scholte & DeBruyn, 2001). More recently, researchers have employed personality measures including all of the big five pers onality traits. Goldberg (1990, 1992) re lied on empirical analyses to identify adjectives describing each of the big five factors. used to assess personality in youth through self report measures in fifth to eighth graders (Graziano, Jensen Campbell, & Finch, 1997 ; Graz iano & Ward, 1992 ). One self report measure called the Big Five Questionnaire Children (BFQ C; Barbaranelli et al., 2003) was constructed to assess personality of children and early adolescents between 9 and 13 years. The questionnaire has 65 items that were created specifically for children. Items ask youth to endorse the frequency of their behavior on a L ikert scale ranging from 1 ( almost never ) to 5 ( almost always ). Additionally, parent and teacher ratings can be obtained for a comprehensive assessmen t of child personality. Empirical analyses demonstrate the reliability and validity of the five factor model through responses on the BFQ C (Barbaranelli, Fida, Paciello, Giunta, & Caprara, 2007).
35 The Adolescent Personality Styles Inventory (APS I; Louns bury et al., 2003) is another self report measure of the big five personality traits in adolescence. The APSI underwent a series of eight studies in order to demonstrate reliability and validity comparing the APSI to parent, teacher, and self reports of pe rsonality as well as objective indicators and empirical factor analyses. The 48 items are developmentally appropriate for adolescents ages 11 18. Lounsbury et al. (2003) confirmed the five factor model in adolescents using the APSI; internal consistency reliability was also de monstrated for this age group. The validity of the measure was supported through comparisons with teacher and parent report of adolescent personality in addition to other self report measures of personality (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Limitations of Extant Literature As addressed earlier, self, parent, and teacher reports of adolescent personality support the validity and reliability of the five factor structure of personality in youth as young as 4 years (Barbaranelli et al., 2007; Mer vielde et al., 1995 ). Moreover, adolescent personality remains consistent into adulthood (Caspi, 2000). However, r esearch is lacking using multi trait measurement of adolescent personality, specifically measuring all of the big five dimensions in relatio n to life satisfaction. Extraversion and neuroticism have been recognized as theoretically grounded and socially important personality traits (Graziano, Jensen Campbell, Todd, & Finch, 1997); however less research has included agreeableness, openness, an d conscientiousness due to a lack of t heory regarding the function of these three dimensions as they relate to
36 outcomes namely life satisfaction ( Graziano, Jensen Campbell, & Finch 1997; Molfesee & Molfesee, 2000). One of the reasons less is known abo ut conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience is their level of subjectivity, in that overlap may exist among behaviors that represent these constructs (e.g., having an easy attitude could fall under agreeableness or o penness). Additionally, because agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness are related to many adaptive behaviors in youth, their discriminate validity as distinct structures is lessened (Barbaranelli et al., 2003; Mervielde et al., 1995 ). Research has found hig h correlations between conscientiousness and openness that reduce their discriminative validity (Barbaranelli et al., 2007). However, p revious research has found support for investigating all five dimensions of personality in the FFM One study found en dorsement of traits included under conscientiousness (i.e., competence, achievement striving, and self discipline) was related to the development of phobic, panic and major depressive disorders in adults (Bienv enu et. al., 2001 ). Agreeableness and openness are the least explored dimensions of personality (Graziano & Eisenberg, 1997; Mervielde, De Fruyt, & Jarmuz, 19 98). Studies that have included agreeableness have found significant correlations with a number of positive interpersonal relationship skills (G raziano & Eisenberg, 1997). For instance, during adoles cence agreeableness is related to conflict resolution (Jensen Campbell, Graziano, & Hair, 1996), p ositive peer relationships and teacher relationships (Graziano, J ense n Campbell, & Finch, 1997), as wel l as happiness (a construct similar to life satisfaction; Jensen Campbell et al., 1996).
37 Regarding openness, this personality dimension has been investigated in youth between the a ges of 4 and 12 ; openness may not be a stable trait of young children (Mervielde et al., 1995). However, between the ages of 8 and 10 openness becomes a more important and discernable factor (Mervielde et al., 1995). This developmental trend supports the inclusion of openness as a factor in personality research with older a dolescents. In general, alt hough the FFM has been established in adult literature, less is known about the FFM in younger popu lations. The lack of substantial longitudinal data in youth makes theory and causal attributions difficult, especially for younger populations (Halverson, Kohnstramm, & Martin, 1994) Summary of Literature Review M ost research with youth has used measures based on a 3 factor model of personality, thus, less is known about the overall relationship of the FFM to life satisfaction. Research has demonstrated the importance of agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness as traits that are representative of and related to adaptive behaviors in youth (Mervielde et al., 1995), particularly the relationship between agreeableness and positive inte rpersonal skills and happiness (Jensen Campbell et al., 1996 ). Yet, no studies have incorporate d all five personality dimensions in studies of life satisfaction These associations need to be further explored as findings have implications for adolescents due to relatively malleable personality traits during this time (Steinberg, 2002).
38 Some studies suggest gender differences in personality with girls reporting higher levels of neuroticism (Fogle et al. 2002). G ender differences have implic ations for targeting areas for interventions given girls may be particularly at risk as neuroticism is relat ed to lower life satisfaction (Fogle et al., 2002 ). Boys may be at risk as they report less importance of social relationships given increased socia l interest and a desire for pro social behavior is related to adolescent lif e satisfaction (Gilman, 2001). Understanding how gender is related to each of the five factors of personality and recognizing how gender differences in personality traits relate to overall life satisfaction is important for determining those who may be at particular risk for low life satisfaction. Previous studies demonstrate that personality traits (e.g., extraversion, agreeableness) are related to positive social relatio nships (Graziano, Jensen Campbell, & Finch, 1997). Further, interpersonal relationships are a strong predictor of life satisfaction (Jensen Campbell et al., 1996; Leung & Zhang, 2000). These findings lend support for the indirect influence of personality o n life satisfaction, mediated by perceptions of social relationships. There have been no comprehensive studies that have investigated the relationships among the classmate relationships, and life sa tisfaction. There is evidence to suggest the influence of extraversion on life satisfaction is indirect, mediated by perceptions of social competence (Fogle et al., 2002) In sum, the role of perceptions of peer relationships in the link between personalit y factors and life satisfaction remains unclear.
39 P urpose of Current Study The purpose of the current study was to determin e the overall contribution of personality to life satisfaction and the unique contribution of each trait (extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreea bleness) to life satisfaction. Gender differences were examined to determine if the relationships between personality and life satisfaction are consistent for boys and girls. The role of pe rceived classmate support in the link between personality and life satisfaction was examined to determine how perceptions of classmate support contribute to the relationship between personality factors and life satisfaction Studies suggest the link betwee n extraversion and life satisfaction may be mediated by perceptions of social competence and social support (Fogle et. al., 2002; Suldo & Huebner, 2006). Thus, one objective of the current thesis is to demonstrate the direct link between extraversion and l ife satisfaction that has been suggested is actually indirect, and is better accounted for by perceptions of classmate support. Given the lack of literature to support an a priori hypothesis regarding the link s among the other four personality factors (openness, conscientiousne ss, agreeableness, neuroticism), perceived classmate support, and life satisfaction (Graziano, Jensen Campbell, & Finch, 1997; Molfesee & Molfesee, 2000), the current thesis examined both indirect ( through perceptions of classmate support) and direct relationships among the remaining four factors and life satisfaction. Life satisfaction is important in youth as it relates to a number of positive outcomes including academic success (Huebner, Funk et a l., 2000; Suldo & Shaffer, 2008). Additionally, high life satisfaction can buffer against negative events (Ash &
40 Huebner, 2001), and influence positive cognitions about ones elf (Meyers & Diener, 1995) Taken together, research ove rwhelmingly supports the importance of life satisfaction in youth thus, identifying characteristics that are related to life satisfaction is imperative.
41 C hapter 3 Method The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationships between adolescent personality life satisfaction, and perceptions of classmate support This chapter provides a description of the research design, followed by a information about the sample including sampling procedures and demographic char acteristics. Next, details about the measures and data collection procedures are presented Finally, an overview of the data analysis plan is provided Design The current study is correlational in nature. It use d a data set obtained from a larger study that investigat ed the mental health of high school students enrolled in rigorous academic programs (e.g., Advanced Placement [AP], Inte rnational Baccalaureate [IB]). Sample Sampling procedures. The sample for the study consisted of 625 high school students across four high schools located in geographically diverse regions of a southeastern state Each of the four high schools offers the IB program Two schools are public magnet schools that offe r college preparatory programs of study such as AP and IB programs ; one also offers additional specialized programs including Math, Science, and Engineering (MSE), Computer Science (CS), and the Interdisciplinary Program (IDP). The other two schools offer AP, IB, and general ed ucation programs for students.
42 A pproximately 27% ( n = 169 ) of students in the sample were enrolled in general education classes, 50% ( n = 316 ) of students were enrolled in the IB program, 18% ( n = 110 ) in AP and 5% ( n = 30 ) in other advanced specialized programs at one of the high schoo ls. Parent consent forms were sent home to all students enrolled at the four high sc hools. P articipants included in the study were limited to those students who returned a signed parent consent form (see Appendix A) to school To encourage participation, students with signed parent consent were included in a drawing for one of several gift certificates worth $5 0 to their local shopping mall. Multiple drawings were conducted at each high school. A list was created for each school identifying those students who returned parent consent and these students were gathered in lar ge groups for data collection. The principal investigator explained the study and informed participants of their right to withdraw or refuse participatio n at any time without penalty. Stud ents were asked to sign a student assent form to participate in the study (see Appendix B) Sample d escription. A breakdown of selected demographic characteristics of the sample is reported in Table 1. The age range of the sample participants was betwe en the 13 and 19 years old ( M =15.72, SD= 1.22 ).
43 Table 1 Demographic C haracteristics of S ample (N = 625) Characteristic n % of sample Gender Male 2 30 3 6.9 % Female 3 94 63 .1 % Missing 1 .00% Race/Ethnicity Caucasian (White) 358 57.3% African American 91 14.6% Hispanic 70 11.2% Asian 47 7.5% Multi racial 41 6.6% Other 11 1.8% Grade level Senior 108 17.3% Junior 165 26.4% Sophomore 176 28.2% Freshman 176 28.2% Socioeconomic status (SES) Free/ reduced price lunch 114 18.3 % Not eligible for free lunch 509 81.7% Missing 2 .00% Less than high school 59 9.7% High school 151 24.9% Some college 86 14.2 % Bachelor degree 164 27.1 % Master degree 95 15.7 % degree (PhD, MD) 51 8.4 % Missing 19 .03% Less than high school 26% 5.8 % High school 136 21.9 % Some college 119 19.2 % Bachelor degree 201 32.4 % Master degree 104 16.8 % (PhD, MD) 24 3.9% Missing 5 .01%
44 Measures (SLSS ; Huebner, 1991a ). The SLSS is a 7 item self report measure of global life satisfaction in youth (see Appendix C) Expanding on the significance of global life satisfaction in adults, Huebner created the SLSS as a global measure of life satisfac tion in youth (Huebner, 1991a). evaluation of the degree to which his or her most important needs, goals, and wishes have 1998 p. 24), thus the SLSS was intended as a general rather than domain specific evaluation o Students rate their agreement with items on a 6 point scale ranging from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 6 ( strongly agree ). Two items are negatively are reverse scored prior to data analysis Higher scores on the SLSS indicate higher life satisfaction. Scores on the SLSS can be used to identify students who are considered at risk for negative outcomes (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). One study demonstrated th e predictive ability of the SLSS as low scores (an average score of 3.9 or less) predicted more externalizing behavior for students compared to those with high scores (an average score of 4.0 or more) with less behavior problems (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). T he SLSS does not include specific cut scores to indicate clinical levels of pathology or risk as the SLSS can be used to identify students before pathology develops (Huebner, Gilman, & Suldo, 2006); however, scores can be used to identify students less
45 sat isfied with life who may be more likely to experience negative outc omes (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). Studies demonstrating adequate psychometric properties of the SLSS are summarized below. n asses sing global life satisfaction. Evidence to support the construct validity of the SLSS was obtained through principal components analyses which yielded a one factor structure (Dew & Huebner, 1994; Gilman & H uebner, 1997; Huebner, 1991c). For younger samples (i.e., elementary and middle school aged students), item loadings ranged from .31 to .76 (Gilman & Huebner, 1997; Huebner, 1991a, 1991c), and in adolescent samples item loadings range d from .61 and .83 (Dew & Huebner, 1994). Results of factor anal yses with measures of self esteem support the validity of the SLSS as a construct different from evaluative judgments of oneself (Huebn er, Gilman, & Laughlin, 1999). Additionally, measures of positive affect correlate moderately with the SLSS ( r= .34; Huebner, 1991a, and r= .44, p <.05; McCulloug h, Huebner, & Laughlin, 2000). LS and positive affect comprise two major components of SWB, thus, moderate correlations with affect support the convergent validity of the SLSS (Huebner, 1991a). Additional evi denc e of validity is demonstrated by strong correlations ( r = .64) with measures of hope (Gilman & Huebner, 2006), and weak correlations ( r = .05) with measures of social desirability (Huebner, 1991c). Studies comparing the SLSS with other established s elf report measures of life satisfact ion provide evidence for concurrent validity (Dew & H uebner, 1994; Huebner, 1991a). Scores on the SLSS correlate moderately with scores on the
46 Perceived Life Satisfaction Scale ( r = .58; Dew & Huebner, 199 4), the Andrews Withey life satisfaction item ( r = .62 ), and the Piers Harris Happiness subscale ( r = .53; Huebner, 1991a). Concurrent and convergent validity have been studied in comparison to parent reports of LS in youth with correlations of .48 in adol escent samples (Dew & Huebner, 1994) and .54 in middle school students (Gilman & Huebner, 1997). Construct validity of the SLSS is demonstrated through significant and positive correlations with constructs theoretically expected to relate to LS, and significant, negative correlations with co nstructs that are opposite LS. As expected, measures of self esteem ar e separable from but related to the SLSS with correlations ranging in magnitude from .40 to .52 (Dew & Huebner, 1994; Gilman & Huebner, 2006; Huebner, Funk et al., 2000; Huebner, Gilman et al., 1999). Conversely, weak or negative correlations with construc ts unrelated or opposite to LS dem onstrate validity of the SLSS. Maladaptive symptoms of pathology have been compared to adolescent scores on the SLSS, yielding negative correlations with depression (ranging from .39 to .62), anxiety ( .34), and social stress (ranging from .50 to .58; Gilman & Huebner, 2006; Huebner, Funk et al., 2000). Externalizing and internalizing SLSS correlating .37 an d .50, respectively (McKnight et al., 20 02; Suldo & Huebne r, 2004b). SLSS scores have predicted social stress, dep ression, anxiety (Huebner, Funk et al., 2000) and externalizing behavior (Suldo & Huebner, 2004b) in adolescent samples one year later, in addition to predicting internalizing and externalizing behavi ors two years later (Harr anin, Huebner, & Suldo, 2007). In sum, research has provided evidence in support of the validity of the SLSS as a global measure with weak or inverse
47 correlations with unrelated or maladaptive traits and strong correlations with ad aptive, comparable constructs. Reliability data estimating the item total correlation for the SLSS ranges from .49 to .73 (Dew & Huebner, 1994). In samples of American high school students the SLSS has demonstrated adequate internal consistency with alph a coefficients ranging from .79 to .88 (Dew & Huebner, 1994; Gilman & Huebner, 1997, 2006; Huebner, 1991a, 1991c; Huebner, Funk et al., 2000). Studies involving culturally diverse groups have found similar estimates of internal consistency ( r = .80; Ulman & Tatar, 2001). Support for t he stability of scores on the SLSS has been observed with test retest coefficients of .74 over a two week period (Huebner, 1991a), .64 over a four week period (Gilman & Huebner, 1997), and .53 to .57 over one year (Huebner, Fu nk et al., 2000; Suldo & Huebner, 2004b). Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (CASSS; Malecki, Demaray, Elliot, 2000). The CASSS (2000) is designed to five sources including parents, teachers, school, classmates, and c lose friends (see Appendix D). Students rate the frequency of perceived support on a 6 point scale from 1 ( never ) to 6 ( always ). The 60 item measure includes five subscales measuring each source of support. Within each subscale each of fou r types of support (instrumental, appraisal, informational, and emotional) are measured. A total perceived support score is calculated by adding all items on the CASSS; subscale frequency scores are calculated by adding only the items within a given subsca le, such as classmate support. Higher scores indicate more perceived social support. A study by Demaray and Malecki (2002b) used
48 scores from the CASSS to predict outcomes, and can be referenced as a guide for score interpretation. The psychometric properties of the CASSS have been supported in reliability and validity studies (Malecki & Demaray, 2002, 2006). For instance, four factors emerged from principal components factor analyses with item loadings ranging from .57 to .86, supporting the validi ty of the four sources of support measured in the original CASSS (Malecki, Demaray, Elliot, & Nolten, 1999; Malecki & Demaray, 2003). Estimates of inter rater reliability assessing the accuracy of items intended to measure each type of support ( e.g., infor mational, emotional) reached 92%, providing evidence to support the validity of type items (Malecki & Demaray, 2003). Only the Classmate subscale of the CASSS (2000) was used in the current study, therefore, subsequent validity and reliability data prov ided is specific to the Classmate subscale. Moderate and significant correlations with the Peer scale from the Social Support Appraisals Scale ( r = .41; Malecki & Demaray, 2003) and the Classmate subscale of the Social Support Scale for Children ( r = .36) support the concurrent validity of the Classmate subscale with established measures of social support. Reliability estimates of the internal consistency of items on the Classmate subscale result in coefficient alphas around .93 (Malecki & Demaray, 2002, 20 03). Estimates of reliability for the Classmate subscale based on type of support (e.g., appraisal, informational, etc.) result in coefficient alphas ranging from .80 to .87 (Malecki & Demaray, 2003). Test retest reliability over 8 to 10 weeks for types of support on the Classmate subscale was
49 evidenced by significant correlations ranging from .51 to .67 (Malecki & Demaray, 2003). Evidence of discriminant validity of the Classmate subscale is found in comparisons of parent ratings of adolescent behavior as measured by the BASC, resulting in significant and negative correlations for the Externalizing ( .34), Internalizing ( .25), and Behavior Symptom Index ( .39) subscales, and a positive correlation (.43) with the Adaptive Skills subscale (Malecki & Demaray 2002). Discriminant validity evidence of the Classmate subscale is also observed through significant and negative correlations with self reports of pathology on the Clinical Maladjus t ment ( .25) and the Emotional Symptoms Index ( .34) subscales of the BA SC in addition to significant and positive correlations with adaptive behaviors on the Personal Adjustment subscale of the BASC (.30; Demaray & Malecki, 2002a). A group of comparison students (i.e., students who did not engage in bullying behaviors or stud ents who were not victims of bullying behavior) reported significantly higher frequency ratings of classmate support on the CASSS than students identified as victims of bullying ( d = validity in differentiating groups of stud ents as expected (Demaray & Malecki, 2003). Adolescent Personal Styles Inventory ( APSI ; Lounsbury et al, 2003). The APSI is a self report instrument that assesses the FFM of personality in adolescents between 11 and 18 years (see Appendix E) The 48 item measure includes five subscales aligned with th e five factors of personality. Three subscales (Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Extraversion) are measured with 9 items, while the Agreeableness subscale has 10 it ems and the Openness subscale has 11 items. Participants endorse their agreement with items
50 on a response scale ranging from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 5 ( strongly agree ). Seven items are reverse scored before items with in each subscale are subjected to data analysis Scores reflect features of personality cha racteristic of the individual. The version of the APSI included in the current study was provided via e mail by the authors of the APSI in 2005, and is assumed the best and mo st recent version of the APSI. Although recently developed, st udies report psychometric properties demonstrating adequate reliability and validity of the measure (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Evidence in support of the c onstruct validity of the measure is observed through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses resulting in five factors aligning with the five dimensions of persona lity (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Negative correlations between Neuroticism scale and adaptive dimensions including Extraversion ( r = .15), Op enness ( r = .09), Agreeableness ( r = .33), and Conscientiousness ( r = .11) and positive correlations between the Extraversion subscale and adaptive dimensions including Openness ( r = .43), Agreeableness ( r = .38), and Conscientiousness ( r = .29) provide initial support for the validity of each fa ctor (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Comparisons between the 16 Personality Factors (16 PF, a measure of 16 lower order facets of personality) and the APSI provide further evidence in support of the construct validity of the measure. More specifically, significant correlations were observed between the Emotional Stability and Neuroticism subscales ( r = 66 ) ; the Openness subscales ( r = 68); between the Social Boldness and Extraversion subscales ( r = .66); between the Rule Consciousness and Conscientiousness subscales ( r = .59); and between the Warmth ( r = .36) and Sensitivity ( r = 33) subscales and the Agreeableness subs cale (Lounsbury et al.,
51 2003). The Myers lated and Extraversion ( r = .55) and Conscientiousness ( r = .54) subscales on the APSI (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Significant correlations between the APSI and the NEO FFI provide further evidence in support of the construct and convergent validity of the APSI with subscale correlations of .60, .68, .69, .77, and .83 for Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism subscales, respective ly (Lounsbu ry et al., 2003). Evidence in support of the c onvergent validity is also observed through strong correlations with teacher reports of student personality for the Extraversion (.30), Openness (.31), and Agreeableness (.68) subsc ales (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Further validity evidence of the APSI has been provided through hypothesized relationships with outcomes such as significant correlations with G P A on all five subscales ranging from .18 to .26 (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Add itionally, behavior problems correlate with the Agreeableness ( r = .16) and Extraversion ( r = .10) subscales, and absences from school correlate with the Neuroticism subscale ( r = .13; Lounsbury et al., 2003). Predicted relationships between Aggression a nd Agreeableness ( r = .69 ) and between Work Drive (i.e., academic motivation) and Conscientiousness ( r = .61 ) provide further evidence in support of the discriminant validity of the APSI (Lounsbury, Steel, Loveland, & Gibson, 2004). Reliability studies show adequate internal consistency for each subscale with coefficient alphas of .82 for Agreeableness, .80 for Openness, .84 for Conscientiousness,
52 and .85 for Neuroticism and Extraver sion (Lounsbury et al., 2003). Similar results have been replicated in s tudies with high school samples with coefficient alphas ranging from .79 to .86 (Lounsbury et al., 2004). Procedures In the spring and summer of 2006, approval for the study was obtained from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of South Florida (USF), as well as the Departments of Assessment and Research within each of the four participating school districts (i.e., Duval County, Palm Beach County, Manatee County, and Polk County). The research team began data collection in the w inter of 2006. The author of this thesis was a member of the research team that included several graduate students in the USF School Psychology Program, supervised by two professors in the USF College of Education. Administration of self report measures was kept consistent across schools, as the primary investigator was present at each school during data collection. The participants uditorium in large groups ( approximately 50 100 students) during school hours to complete the measures. Each group of students was provided with a standard set of instructions regarding the procedures for completing the questionnaire packet. Students practiced answering two Likert scale questions before completing the packet to reduce errors wh en completing the measures. Students also provided demographic information including age, grade, sex, curriculum, and socio price lunch. Six versions of the questionnair e packets were created to counterbalance the
53 measures. Note, only the self report measures analyzed in the current study were previously reviewed Each questionnaire packet contained all measures, and students sitting near one another were administered dif ferent versions of the packet to reduce discussion about the measures among students. The packets took approximately 30 45 minutes for participants to complete. Trained research assistants were on hand to answer student questions and to check completed pac kets for errors and missed questions. Data were entered as it was collected and checked for errors by research assistants throughout the 2006 2007 school year. Overview of Data Analysis Plan A series of statistical analyses was performed in order to ans wer the research questions posed in th e current study. Descriptive analyses. Descriptive statistics were obtained including variability and measures of central tendency to describe the data Univariate and multivariate outliers were identified and removed fr om the dataset as appropriate. Additionally, graphic depictions of the data set were inspected to assess the relationship s between variables. Research question 1 : Which personality factors have significant associations wit h ado lescent life satisfaction? Correlational analyses describe the strength and direction of the relationship between two variables (Cozby, 2004). Thus, bivariate correlation s were computed to determine which personality factors were significantly correlated t o a measure of life satisfaction. Research question 2 : What is the overall contribution of personality to adolescent life satisfaction ? Multiple regression analyses were conducted to predict the degree to
54 which personali ty factors explain life satisfaction. The adjusted R square statistic from a simultaneous multiple regression determine d the overall contribution of personality to life satisfaction. Research question 3 : Which personality factors are uniquely and most strongly ass ociated with life satisfaction ? A review of beta weights and semi partial R square statistics from the simultaneous multiple regression determine d which of the five personality factors were uniquely and most strongly associated with life satisfaction. Res earch question 4 : Is the relationship between pe rsonality and life satisfaction consistent across genders? To determine if gender is a moderator in the relationship between personality and life satisfaction, multiple r egression analyses that include five intera ction terms (i.e., extraversion* gender, neuroticism*gender, openness*gender, conscientiousness*gender, agreeableness*gender) were conducted (Baron & Kenny, 1986). Life satisfaction serve d as the dependent/criterion variable and personality fact ors, gender, and the interactions between gender and personality factors serve d as the pre dictors/independent variables. P values associated with beta weights for all predictors were reviewed; statistically significant interaction terms were indicative of personality factor s that differentially predict ed life satisfa ction as a function of gender. In the event a significant interaction term was detected, follow up regression analyses in which personality factors we re regressed on life satisfaction by gender group were conducted and beta weights that were yielded from the gender specific equations were graphed to display the moderator effect.
55 Research question 5: Does peer support mediate the relationship between personality and life satisfaction? A structural equation model (see Figure 1) that specified hypothesized relationships among latent constructs personality factors, perceptions of classmate support, and life satisfaction was analyzed to determine the strength and direction of relationships among variables and to determine the amount of variance in life satisfaction that was explained by the simultaneous influence of personality factors and perceptions of classmate support All models were estimated using maximum likelihood (ML) method and the CALIS procedure of SAS 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.). The model hypothesized that all five personality factors indirectly relate to life satisfaction through perceived classmate support. In addition, openness, con scientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism were hypothesized to directly relate to life satisfaction. The current study hypothesized that extraversion related to life satisfaction only indirectly, through perceptions of classmate support based on p revi ous resear ch finding social self efficacy mediated the relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction (Fogle et al., 2002) Thus, i n order to clarify mediating variables in the link between extraversion and life satisfaction (Fogle et al., 2002), the current model hypothesized perceptions of classmate support mediated by the relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction More specifically, adolescents who are more extraverted experience more classmate support, which infl uences their life satisfaction. Due to a lack of research regarding mediational mechanisms in the relationships between the remaining four personality factors (openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and
56 neuroticism) and life satisfaction, these factors were hypothesize d to both indirectly (through perceived classmate support) and directly relate to life satisfaction The data were analyzed using the two step modeling approach suggesting by Anderson and Gerbing (1988; see Kline, 2005). First, steps were taken to determ ine a measurement model that demonstrated an adequate fit of the data. Fit indices were reviewed to determine the goodness of fit of the model. Once an adequate measurement model was obtained, the structural model was created (shown in Figure 1), illustrat ing the hypothesized relationships among the latent variables. The path coefficients from the structural equation model were obtained to determine the relationships among the variables in the model.
57 Figure 1. The Role of Perceived Classmate Support in the Relationship between Personality Factors and Life Satisfaction. Ethical Considerations collection was obtained from the IRB at the University of South Florida and from each of the four At every high school, principals and teachers were informed of the purpose of the study, as well as all the possible risks and ben efits to student participants. A signed parental consent form was required from all stu dents in order to participate. The parental consent form included contact informatio n of the Openness Perceived Classmate Support Life Satisfaction Conscientiousness Extraversion Agreeableness Neuroticism
58 fuse participation at any time. Students with parental consent were asked to sign stude nt assent forms that provided similar information found in the parent consent form word ed appropriately for children. Prior to data collection, the research team answered any questions or concerns posed by participants, who were reminded that at any time they could withdraw from the study. using student identification numbers rath
59 Chapter 4 Results This chapter present s the results of the analyses conducted to answer the research quest ions within the current study. First, correlations among variables are provided to illustrate the relationship between each of the five factors of pers onality and life satisfaction. Next, results from regression analyses are presented to deter mine which personality factor s are the largest and most unique p redictor s of life satisfaction in addition to the degree to which p ersonality factors contribute to the overall variance in life satisfaction. These analyses are followed by results of regression analyses conducted to determine if gender differences exist in the relationships between personality factors and life satisfaction. Finally, results from a structural equation model that examined relationships among latent variables representing personality factors, perceived classmate support, and life satisfaction are shared Data Screening Outliers The norma lity assumption was examined for each variable in the dataset ( N = 625) to determine the presence of any univariate or multivariate outliers. Observations equal to or larger than three standard deviations from the mean of any of the seven variables examine d (i.e. openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, perceived classmate support, and life satisfaction) su ggested an extreme observation. Using this criterion, 13 observations were iden tified as univariate
60 outliers. Multivariate outliers were defined as observations with a Mahalanobis distance larger than the chi 2 = 24.32, 7 df ). Three observations were identified as multivariate outliers; however, these observations were initially identified as univariate outliers thus, no additional cases were deleted. Identification of both univariate and multivariate outliers resulted in deletion of 13 cases resulting in a sample of 612 participants that were retained for all subsequent analyses. Comparison of subgroups within the sample The dataset analyzed in the current study was collected as part of a larger study examining the well being of students enrolled in rigorous academic curriculum. Thus, the total sample ( N = 625) includes a large number of students enrolled in rigorous college preparatory programs ( n = 449). The present study is interested in relationships among the variables of int erest (life satisfaction perceived classmate support, and personality) among adolescents in general (i.e., students enrolled in both college preparatory programs an d general education programs). To determine if it is empirically defensible to combine the data from the two groups of students (i.e., college preparatory and general education) to form a single dataset to be analyzed throughout the remainde r of the study, two correlation matrices were developed and compared. One contains relationships between t he variables of interest (personality dimensions, perceived classmate support, life satisfaction) for students in college preparatory programs, and the second contains the correlation coefficients for the same variables using the subsample of students in g eneral education as t he dataset. To determine if the magnitude of the relationships between the variables of interest were similar for students in the two groups, Fisher's r to Z t ransformations were
61 conducted. Fisher's r to Z transformations are useful for determining the significance of a difference between correlations; for instance, determining if the magnitude of the correlation coefficients among variables for the general education subsample were significantly different f rom the correlations among variables obtained for the college preparatory subsample. r to Z transforms the Pearson correlation coefficients into Z scores and determines if the difference in Z scores reaches statistical significance (z > + 1.96, p < .05, two tailed test). Correlations between predictors (agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, and openness) and the hypothesized outcome variable s ( perceived classmate support and life satisfaction), along with p values associated w r to Z transformation are presented for general education and college preparatory students in Table 2
62 Table 2 Inter c orrelations and R esults from Fishers r to Z transformations Scale A C N E O College preparatory students ( n =449) LS .30** .28** .66** .30** .15* CS .33** .29** .40** .44* .24** General education students ( n =163) LS .25* .27* .61** .21* .17* CS .23* .33** .19* .46** .23* p values from Fishers r to z Transformations LS .57 .91 .30 .30 .83 CS .25 .65 .01* .89 .94 Note. A = agreeableness; C = conscientiousness; N = neuroticism; E = extraversion; O = openness; LS = life satisfaction ; CS = classmate support *p < .05, **p <.001. The direction and magnitude of the correlations obtained for the sample of students in the general education curriculum ( n = 163) and the sample of students in the college preparatory programs ( n = 449) were comparable in 9 of 10 inst ances. The one exception involves the relationship between neuroticism and perceived c lassmate support ( z= 2.53, p =.01). In this situation, a stronger inverse relationship between neuroticism and perceived classmate support was found among college preparatory students than among general education students. Since 90 % of comparisons yielded statistically similar relationships between predictor and outcome variables for the two subgroup of students,
63 subsequent analyses were conducted using the combined sample ( N = 612) of students from general education and college pre paratory programs as the manner in which personality is associated with perceived classmate support and life satisfaction is largely similar regardless of student curriculum group. Descriptive statistics. Means and standard deviations for the seven va riables of interest in the current study are included in Table 3 The sample mean for life satisfaction ( M = 4.23, SD = .94) is above the neutral point and suggests that the typical adolescent at least mildly agrees with assertions that he or she is s atisf ied with his or her life. With respect to personality dimensions, adolescents rated themselves highest on openness to experience and lowest on neuroticism. The mean perceived classmate support score ( M = 4.2, SD = .84) was consistent with previous findings with adolescent samples ( M = 3.9, SD = 1.2; Dema ray & Malecki, 2002a). Internal consistency Alpha coefficients, a measure of reliability, were obtained to identify possible problems that could arise in later correlation and reg ression anal yses due to measurement error. As suggested by Pedhazur (1997), measurement errors in the independent or dependent variables can b ias the regression coefficient. The alpha coefficients are an indicator of measurement error in each measure and a re used to er, & Stepanksi, 2005, p. 157). Reliability (alpha) coefficients are presented in the diagonals of Table 3 > .70) demonstrate adequate reliability (Nunnally, 1978), while more current research suggests
64 higher coefficients (.80 < < .90; Clark & Watson, 1995) ar e superior estimates. Results from the current study su ggest all subscales of the APSI, SLSS and CASSS demonstrate adequate reliability ranging from .79 (Agreeableness) to 92 ( CASSS ), with all but one coefficient demonstrating excellent internal consistency Employing measur es with such strong internal consistency reliability should serve to help limit bias that could occur in subsequent correlation and regression analyses due to measurement error. Research Question # 1. Which personality factors have significant associations with adolescent life satisfaction? Prior to conducting correlation analyses to determine the strength and direction of the relationships between each of the five personality factors and life satisfaction, preliminary analyses were conducted to ensure tha t a linear relationship exists between the dependent variable (life satisfaction) and each of the predictor variables (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness neuroticism; Stevens, 1999). Using SAS 9.2, each pair of variables (i.e., extra version*life satisfaction, openness*life satisfaction, etc.) was displayed in scatter plots. Visual inspection of plots suggested a dequate linear relationships. Table 3 presents Pearson correlation coefficients obtained between all variables of interest in the current study.
65 Table 3 Means, Standard Deviations, Intercorrelations and Coefficient Alphas for Variables ( N = 612) Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 M SD 1. Agreeableness (.79) 3.74 .56 2.Conscientiousness .41** (.82) 3.49 .61 3. Neuroticism .31** .20** (.86) 2.76 .78 4. Extraversion .12* .09* .26** (.82) 3.71 .78 5. Openness .30** .29** .03 .29** (.80) 3.80 .56 6. Perceived Classmate Support .30** .29** .34** .45** .25 ** (.92) 4.20 .84 7 Life Satisfaction .29** .27** .65** .27** .16** .44** (.88) 4.23 .94 Note. Diagonals represent the standardized alpha coefficients. p < 0 5, ** p < 001. Correlations between each of the five personality factors and life satisfaction were statistically significant ( p < .001). Neuroticism demonstrated the strongest and only inverse relationship ( r = .65) with life satisfa ction. Moderate, positive relationships were found between life satisfaction and three personality factors agreeableness, consci entiousness, and extrav ersion. The positive relationship between life satisfaction and openness was small ( r = .16). In sum, results from correlation analyses suggest each of the five personality factors have statistically significant bivariate relationships with life satisfacti on.
66 Research Question #2. What is the overall contribution of personality to adolescent life satisfaction? A simultaneous multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the amount of variance in life satisfaction that is explained by the five p ersonality factors. In particular, the adjusted R square statistic reveals the overall contribution of personality to life satisfaction. First, the assumptions underlying multiple regression were asse ssed for potential violations. Then, the five predictors (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism) were regressed on life satisfaction. Model assumptions. Assumptions of multiple regression include normally distributed predictors and error, thus the distribution of scores and residuals were inspected for departures from normality. In addition to the means and standard deviations for each variable that were examined earlier, skewness and kurtosis values were obtained. The skewness ( .42 to .13) and kurtosis ( .30 to .09) values for life satisfaction and each of the predictor variables (personality traits) were within acceptable ra nges (i.e., between 1 and 1). Additionally, scatter plots with each predictor variable and criterion depicted linear relationships and adequate normali ty. In multiple regression, the standardized error (i.e., residuals) is assumed to be normally distributed with a mean of zero, and demonstrate consistent variance that is uncorrelated with the predic tor variables (Stevens, 1999). To ensure this assumpt ion was not violated, the standardized residuals (error) were plotted for each predictor and criterion pair (e.g., agreeableness*life satisfaction) and inspected for departures from normality (i.e ., clustering of error terms). All standardized residual plo ts were normally
67 distributed around the horizontal axis with a mean of zero, suggesting constant error variance in agreement with model assumptions. A third assumption of multiple regression is the detecti on of influential data points. Although the univ ariate and multivariate outliers were previously detected and removed, were inspected to ensure there ar e no influential observations. Multiple regression is less robust against influential dat a points as these can change the regression line substantially. Stevens (1999) suggests can be thought of as an outlier on a set of predictors), and generally those with a value greater than 1 should be examined and possibly removed. A fourth assumption of multiple regression is diagnosing multicollinearity, the amount of correlation among predic tor variables (Stevens, 1999). If predictors are highly correlated with one another, the R square results in a bias estimate due to overlap in the varianc e explained by the predictors. Table 3 includes the intercorrelations among the five personality factors. Associations ranged from r = .03 to r = .41. Although 9 of 10 relationships were statistically significant, the magnitude of the correlations suggests weak to moderate relationship s between personality factors. Furthermore, Stevens (1999) suggests examining the variance inflation factor (VIF) for each predictor in addition to assessing simple correlations among predictors. A VIF > 10 indicates that a predictor demonstrates a strong linear relationship with all other predictors which can go undetected through examination of simple correlations (Ste vens, 1999). The VIFs for
68 each predictor were assessed and all predictors demonstrated adequate values (VIF<1.35), suggesting the assumptions were not violated. Taken together, findin gs suggest the model assumptions are tenable, thus results from the multiple regression are interpretable. Multiple regression. Five predictors representing the five factors of personality (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroti cism) were r egressed on life satisfaction. Given the lack of research regarding the contribution of all five personality factors to life satisfaction, simultaneous entry was chosen over a planned entry of predictors in the regression model. Results from th e multiple regression are provided in Table 4 Table 4 Personality Factors Regressed on L ife S atisfaction (N = 612) Factor sr 2 Agreeableness .03 .0009 Conscientiousness .11** .0092 Neuroticism .59*** .2887 Extraversion .08** .0061 Openness .07* .0042 Note. R 2 = .454, Adjusted R 2 = .45 F (5, 606) = 100.91, p < .0001 *p <.05, **p <.01, ***p <.001. Taken together, the personality factors explained satisfaction scores, F (5, 606) = 100.91, p < .0001, adjusted R 2 = .45.
69 Research Question #3. Which personality factors are uniquely and most strongly associated with life satisfaction? To determine which predictors are uniquely associated with life satisfaction, the p values associated with beta weights (standardized regression coefficients, ) were assessed to determine the relative importa nce of each of the predictors. Results indicate that after controlling for the commonality amongst the personality factors, four pe rsonality factors (see Table 4 ) were significant and unique predictors ( p < .05) of life satisfaction Neuroticism emerged as the strongest unique predictor in the regression equation ( .59, p < 001), followed by the other three predictors with much lower beta weights (conscientiousness .11, p < 01; extraversion .08, p < 01; openness .07, p < 05). A greeableness was not a significant predictor in the regression equation ( .03, p = .33). To assess the strength of the unique associations between personality factors and life satisfaction, squared semi partial correlations ( sr 2 ) were e xamined. Squared semi terion, after controlling for all oth er predictors (Stevens, 1999). Squared semi partial correlations for the regression are provided in Table 4 Results indicate that neuroticism predicted about 29% of the variance in life satisfaction, when controlling for all other predictors in the regression equation Each of the other significant predictors explain s approximately 1% of the additional variance in life satisfaction. Research Question #4. Is the relationship between personality and life satisfaction consistent across genders?
70 In a simultaneous multiple regression analysis, the five p ersonality factors, gender, and terms representing the interactions between personality and gender were r egressed on life satisfaction. Beta weights and squared semi p artial correlations obtained from the multiple regression with these 11 predictors (five personality factors, gender, and five interaction terms) regressed on life satisfaction are presented in Table 5 Table 5 Multiple Regression with Personality, Gender and Interaction Terms as Predictors of Adolescent Life Satisfaction (N=612) Predictor sr i 2 Agreeableness .10* .0004 Conscientiousness .07 .0047 Neuroticism .57*** .1691 Extraversion .10* .0053 Openness .03 .0009 Gender .06 .0030 Agreeableness*Gender .13** .0075 Conscientiousness*Gender .05 .0014 Neuroticism*Gender .06 .0019 Extraversion*Gender .04 .0008 Openness*Gender .07 .0023 Note. R 2 =.463 Adjusted R 2 =.45.
71 *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001. First, predictors (five personality factors) were centered to improve interpretability of significant interactions within multiple regression and account for multicollinearity among predictors (Aikin & West, 1991). A variable is centered by subtracting the sample mean of a g iven variable from each score. Centering transforms the sample mean for each deviation from the sample mean. Centering variables allows meaningful interpretation of interaction terms, so that values represent absolute values and are not influenced by high and low values as a re sult of multiplying variables. Centering also accounts for multicollinearity among predictors that may exist due to high correlations among personality variable s (B arbaranelli et al., 2003). Centering variables accounts for the degree of collinearity among predictors and interaction terms that include predictors (e.g., covariance between O and O*G; Aiken & West, 1991; West, Aikin, & Krull, 1996). Without centering va riables, the correlation among interaction terms (for instance, gender*openness) and the personality variable included in the interaction term (openness) yields an overestimate of variance explained by the personality variable (West, Aikin, & Krull, 1996). Thus, the deviation scores obtained by centering each variable were used in the subsequent analysis. The categorical predictor, gender, was dummy coded. Categorical variables are coded in order to include these variables in multiple regression analyses. Further, dummy coding has implications for interpretation of regression coefficients (Aikin, West, & Krull, 1996). Aikin, West, and Krull (1996) recommend the group with the larger sample
72 size represent the compa rison group and coded as zero. In dummy codi ng gender, g iven their larger sample size the girls ( n= 388) were coded zero and the boys ( n =223) were coded one Product terms were used to test the interaction between the dummy coded gender variable and each centered personality factor (i.e., extraversion*gender, openness*gender, gender*agreeableness, gender*neuroticism, gender*conscientiousness). Interaction terms are used to examine moderating effects within multiple regression to determine the variance explained by gender*personality beyond the variance explained b y personality or gender alone. The p values associated with beta weights (standardized regression coefficients ) were examined to assess whether the interaction terms, which were the predictors of int erest in the current analysis were statistically significant The interaction term representing the product of agreeableness and gender was significant ( =. .13, p <.01), suggesting that agreeableness relates to life satisfaction differently for boys and girls. To explore the nature of the difference, additional gender specific regre ssion analyses were conducted. Specifically, the five personality factors were regressed on life satisfaction by gender separately for boys and girls. The relationship between agreeableness and life satis fa ction was of primary interest. Thus, beta weights and squared semi partial correlations describing this relationship among boys and girls are provided in Table 6
73 Table 6 Follow up Regression Analyses Probing the Effect of Gender in Predicting Life Sa tisfaction from Agreeableness Factor Boys (n=223) Girls ( n= 388) sr i 2 sr i 2 Openness .15* .02 .03 .00 Conscientiousness .16* .02 .08 00 Extraversion .03 .00 .10* .01 Neuroticism .65** .32 .56** .24 Agreeableness .11 .0 1 .10* .0 1 Note. p < .05. The beta weight for agreeableness was statistically significant for the girls ( = .10, p < .05), and the relationship with life satisfactio n was in a positive direction. On the other hand, the beta weight obtained for the association betwe en agreeableness and life satisfaction among boys was not statistically significant ( = .11, p = 06). In sum, the relationship between agreeableness and life satisfaction is different for boys and girls. Statistically, the significant interaction indicates the slopes ( b) of the regression equations used to predict life satisfaction from agreeableness are di fferent for boys and girls. For girls, higher agreeableness is associated with higher life satisfact ion; conversely, in boys
74 agreeableness is not associated with life sati sfaction. The regression equation for girls is = .1723 (x) + 4.37491 and the regression equation for b oys is = .18344 (x) +5.127 Research Q uestion # 5. Does perceived classmate sup port mediate the relationship between personality factors and life satisfaction? To answer the final research question, analysis of a structural equation model was conducted. All models were estimated using maximum likelihood (ML) method and the CALIS procedure of SAS 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.). The model estimated all five personality factors indirectly relate to life satisfaction through peer support. Openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism were hypothesized to directly relate to lif e satisfaction. The model hypothesizes that extraversion may relate to life satisfaction only indirectly, through peer support. That is, adolescents who are more extraverted experience more peer support, which influences their life satisfaction. The data w ere analyzed using the two s tep modeling approach suggested by Anderson and Gerbing (1988; see Kline, 2005). First, steps were taken to determine a measurement model that demonstrated an adequate fit of the data. Once an adequate measurement model was obta ined, the structural model was created (shown in Figure 1), illustrating the hypothesized relationships among the latent variables. Identification. A model is said to be identified if there is a unique solution for the model's parameters (see Kline, 2005) A model is identified if the number of data points in the analysis is larger than the number of parameters to be estimated. The initial model had 2278 data points and 154 parameters to estimate. The final model, which will be
75 discussed in detail had 300 data points and 68 parameters to estimate. Thus, both the initial and final models were adequately identified models The initial model included all scale items as measured variables that estimated the seven latent constructs of interest. Each of the fiv e latent factor s of personality were measured by multiple indicator variables ranging from nine items (Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness) to 11 items (Openness). The initial model included all items from the each of the three measures, tot aling 67 indicator variables. Direct paths from each personality factor (excluding extraversion) to life satisfaction and to classmate support, in addition to a path from classmate support to life satisfaction were estimated. The initial model demonstrated 2 (2124, 67) = 66199.74, p = .000). Thus, an adequate measurement model was needed in order for t he structural model to assess the relationships among latent factors. The first step taken to obtain an adequate measurement model was identifying where the re was measurement error in the model. S even individual confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were conducted for each scale to determine the amount of measurement error within each measure. The fit indices for each of the five personality factors, the CASSS, and the S L S S suggested adequate fit for each scale; however, many of these did not reach levels of optimal fit. In order to optimize the fit of the initial model to the data, items within each scale were parceled by grouping two or mor e items into a single indicator variable. Standardized path coefficients and standard errors from the individual CFAs for each scale guided the development of the item parcels so that parcels represented parallel forms. Parallel forms are equally represent ative of the latent
76 construct of interest. Parceling indicator variables reduced the total number of indicator variables for each latent variable resulting in three indicator variables for the SLSS, six indicator variables for the CASSS, and three indicat or variables for each of the five personality factors for a total of 24 indicator variables. Table 7 represents the fit indices for the initial and revised model s. As is shown, the revised model showed satisfactory criteria for model fit and was determined to be the final model. Table 7 Fit I ndices for the I nitial and F inal M odel s Model 2 d f SRMSR RMSEA CFI Initial model 6199.74* 2125 .085 .056 .757 Final model 703.85* 232 .047 .058 .943 Note. N =608. Initial model includes all 67 items as indicator variables T he final model includes 24 parceled indicator variables. SRMSR = standardized root mean square residual; RMSEA = root mean square error of dex. p < .0001. A description of the final model, fit indices, and parameter estimates follows. As is shown in Table 7 the final model yielded a statistically significant chi 2 (232, N = 608) = 703.85, p < .00 1 ], suggesting the model does not fit the data in a strict sense However, the chi square is heavily influenced by large sample sizes, therefore other indices are suggested as better indicators of model fit (see Kline, 2005). The standardized root mean square residual (SRMR, .047) demo nstrated adequate fit. Suggested guidelines advise estimates less than .08 are indicative of adequate fit (Hu & Bent l er, 1998). The
77 root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA .058 ) demonstrated adequate fit as estimates less than .06 indicate acceptab le fit (Hu & Bentler, 1998). An index of incremental fit, the comparative fit index (CFI) approximated .95, the value suggest ed to indicate adequate fit (Hu & Bentler, 1998). Taken together, the fit indices demonstrated that the model is a reasonable appro ximation to the optimal model The item parcels were representative of each latent construct of interest. As shown in Table 8 the standardized path coefficients from each indicator variable to the latent construct demonstrated strong relationships rangi ng from .68 (O1 to Openness) to .88 (N1 to Neuroticism). A review of the R 2 values suggests that at least 50% of the variance in each indicator variable was due to the latent construct, suggesting indicator variables were adequately representative of the u nderlying construct of interest. Therefore, each latent variable was assumed a reliable and valid estimate of the latent constructs of interest. Table 8 Standardized Path Coefficients and R 2 Values for the Measurement Portion of the Final Model Construct and Indicators SE R 2 Standardized Openness (F3) O1 (Items 5, 20, 30) .68* .03 .47 O2 (Items 10, 15, 35, 40) .74* .03 .54 O3 (Items 25, 45, 46, 48) .84* .02 .70 Conscientiousness (F3)
78 C1 (Items 32, 12, 17) .74* .02 .54 C2 (Items 27, 37, 42) .76* .02 .58 C3 (Items 7, 2, 22) .81* .02 .66 Extraversion (F4) E1 (Items 4, 34, 14) .79* .02 .62 E2 (Items 9, 24, 19) .76* .02 .58 E3 (Items 44,39, 29) .83* .02 .69 Agreeableness (F5) A1 (Items 26, 21, 31, 36) .75* .02 .56 A2 (Items 1, 6, 11) .76* .02 .58 A3 (Items 16, 41, 47) .77* .02 .60 Neuroticism (F6) N1 (Items 43, 13, 3) .88* .01 .77 N2 (Items 8, 38, 28) .85* .02 .72 N3 (Items 23, 18, 33) .76* .02 .58 Perceived classmate Support (F2) PS1 (Items 1, 8) .78* .02 .60 PS2 (Items 4, 11) .86* .01 .73 PS3 (Items 3, 12) .84* .01 .71 PS4 (Items 9, 10) .80* .02 .65 PS5 (Items 7, 5) .81* .02 .66 PS6 (Items 2, 6) .84* .01 .70 Life Satisfaction (F1) LS1 (Items 33, 17, 25) .85* .02 .72 LS2 (Items 1, 47) .79* .02 .62 LS3 (Items 41, 9) .84* .02 .71 Note. N = indicators. p < .05.
79 Using structural equation modeling (SEM), the conceptual model was tested in which five personality factors were hypothesized to predict perceived classmate support, which in turn predicted life satisfaction (see Figure 2) Further, four personality factor s (excluding extraversion) were hypothesized to directly predict life satisfaction. As is shown in Table 9 a review of the parameter estimates suggest correct sign and magnitude based on findings of previous research. A review of the R 2 values suggests va riables in the model accounted for 61% of the variance in life satisfaction. Additionally, personality factors accounted for 39% of the variance in support. As is shown in Figure 2, f our of the standardized path coefficients from personality factors to perceived classmate support were statistically significant and demonstrated cor rect sign and magnitude based on previous research. The strongest standardized path coefficient was found from extraversion to perceived classmate support (.42) suggesting scoring higher on extraversion is associated with higher perceptions of classmate support. Additionally, having higher levels of conscientiousness (.17) and agreeableness (.13) is also associated with higher perceptions of classmate support. A higher level of neuroticism was associated with lowe r levels of perceived classmate support ( 18 ). The path from openness to classmate support was not statistically significant (.006, p > .05, ns ). Three of the direct standardized path coefficient s from hypothesized predictor variables (i.e., perceived classmate support and personality factors ) to life satisfaction were statistically significant namely the path coefficients between openness and life satisfaction, neuroticism and l ife satisfaction, and classmate support and life satisfaction
80 Neuroticism demonstrated the strongest, albeit inverse, relationship with life satisfaction, suggesting higher levels of neuroticism were related to lower levels of life satisfaction. Openness was also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction. The path coefficients from agreeableness and conscientiousness to life satisfaction were non significant path coefficients. The standardized path coefficient from perceived classmate support to l ife satisfaction was significant, suggesting higher levels of perceived classmate support were associated with higher levels of life satisfaction. Table 9 Standardized Path Coefficients for the Theoretical Model of Relationships among Latent Factors Dependent/Independent Variable Standardized and SE R 2 Life Satisfaction (F1) .613 Perceived Classmate Support (F2) .188* .04 Openness (F3) 090* .04 Conscientiousness (F4) .070 .04 Agreeableness (F6) .002 .05 Neuroticism (F7) .648* .03 Perceived Classmate Support (F2) .386 Openness (F3) .006 .05 Conscientiousness (F4) .174* .05 Extraversion (F5) .417* .04 Agreeableness (F6) .125* .05 Neuroticism (F7) .175* .04 Note. N =608. (Gamma), (Beta) = standardized estimates of paths among latent variables. p < .05.
81 Figure 2. Structural Equation Model in Which Life Satisfac tion is Predicted by Perceived C lassmate Support and Four Personality Factors .65*(.03) .13*(.05) .18*(.04) .17*(.05) .09*(.04) .07(.04) .002 (.05) .19*(.04) .006(.05) .42*(.04) CS4 CS5 CS6 CS3 CS2 CS1 C1 C2 C3 Conscientiousnes s E2 E3 E1 Extraversion Life Satisfaction R 2 = 61 LS1 LS2 LS3 Classmate Support R 2 = .39 O3 O2 O1 Openness A1 A2 A3 Agreeableness N1 N2 N3 Neuroticism
82 The covariances among latent personality factors were allowed to covary. The covariances are provided in Table 10 T he magnitude and direction were in the expected direction with adaptive factors negatively correlating the neurot icism (i.e., a maladaptive trait) The high covariance among conscientiousness and agreeableness is aligned with previous research that suggests these two personality factors are representative of positive and adaptive personality traits. Table 10 C ovarian ces among Latent Personality Factors Covaried Factors Standardized SE Openness Conscientiousness .365* .05 Openness Extraversion .367* .04 Openness Agreeableness .375* .04 Openness Neuroticism .047 .05 Conscientiousness Extraversion .125* .04 Conscientiousness Agreeableness .496* .05 Conscientiousness Neuroticism .247* .05 Extraversion Agreeableness .168* .05 Extraversion Neuroticism .315* .04 Agreeableness Neuroticism .323* .04 Note. N = 608. ( Phi ) = standardized estimates of covariances among latent, exogenous variables. p < .05.
83 Finally, a specification search was conducted to ensure the final model was the best possible model. As previous research has shown a strong direct link between extraversion and life satisfaction, a model that included the direct path from extraversion to life satisfaction was compared to the final model ( the model that did not include the direct path from extraversion to life satisfaction). The chi square value [ 2 (231, 24) = 703.24, p < .00 1 ) was not statistically significantly different from the chi square value for the final model ( 2 diff =.61 < 2 crit = 3.84). If the chi square values for two models are not statistically significantly different, the model tha t is more parsimonious (or the simpler model) is the preferred model. Therefore, the original model is the stronger model because it is a more parsimonious model (i.e., it withstood a greater chance of being rejected) than the model with the additional pat h. This supports the hypothesis tested in the present study that the link between extraversion and life satisfaction is indirect and is accounted for by perceived classmate support Similarly, the relationship between conscientiousness and life satisfactio n as well as the relationship between agreeableness and life satisfaction were also indirect and were accounted for by perceived classmate support
84 Chapter 5 Discussion The present study investigated the relationship between adolescent personality an d life satisfaction. In contrast to the literature available on adults research on the empirical links between these two constructs among youth is sparse The current study addressed gap s in the existing literature by examining adolescent life satisfaction in relation to a conceptualization of personality consistent with the Five Factor Model of personality ( FFM ) and by clarifying the role of gender and perceptions of classmate support in th is relationship This chapter begin s with a review of the findings from the current study along with theoretical and applied implications Finally, the limitations of the study and suggestions for future research will be discussed Findings and Implications Descriptive information The mean level of life satisfaction reported by adolescents corresponded to slightly agree on the SLSS, indicating that on average participants at least slight ly agr eed with assertions that he or she is s atisfied with his or her life. T his finding is consistent with previous research with youth that has suggest ed most adolescents are satisfied with their lives ( Huebner, Funk, & Gilman, 2000; McCullough & Huebner, 2003; Suldo & Huebner, 2004a, 2004b ). Concerning personality, p verage levels of agreeableness, extraversion, and openness were similar to estimates obtained in previous studies with high school students (Lounsbury et al., 2003).
85 Current findings differ from previous research in o ne regard, with participants reporting slightly higher levels of neuroticism compared to previous studies with adolescents (i.e., M = 2.76 vs. M = 1.98; Lounsbury et al. 2003). Findings from earlier studies suggest females tend to report slightly higher levels of neuroticism compared to boys (Fogle et al., 2002; Francis, 1992, 1993; Scholte & De Bruyn, 2001 ). T hus, the high proportion of females in the sample might contribute to the higher mean levels of neuroticism obtained in the current study A ssoci ations between personality factors and adolescent life satisfactio n. Regarding links between the constructs of interest, significant bivariate c orrelations were obtained between each of the five personality factors and life satisfaction. Specifically, neuroticism had the strongest, albeit inverse, relationship with life satisfaction suggesting that when adolescents display higher levels of neuroticism, they experience lower levels of life satisfaction. The large correlation obt ained in the current stud y ( r = 65) is higher than the values obtained in previous investigations with youth that utilized a 3 factor model of personality; these studies reported moderate correlations (i.e., .33, .39; Fogle et al., 2002; McKnight et al., 2002, respectively). The nature of the relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction found in the current study is consistent with the direction and magnitude of correlations obtained in previous studies with adolescents that yielded small, positive relationships be tween extraversion and life satisfaction (i.e., .21, .22; Fogle et al., 2002; McKnight et al., 2002, respectively).
86 The relationships between life satisfaction and the two more commonly studied personality factors (extraversion and neuroticism) that were obtained in the current st udy are consistent with results from previous research with American youth (Fogle et al., 2002; McKnight et al., 2002). There is evidence to suggest these findings hold across cultures with similar relationships found among Chine se adolescents. Using the Chinese Personality Assessment Inventory (CPAI A; Cheung, Leung, & Cheung, 2006) Ho et al. (2008) found negative correlations between neuroticism and life satisfaction, and positive correlations between extraversion and life satisfaction. With regards to the three remaining personality factors, p ositive and small to moderate correlations were found between life satisfaction and c onscientiousness ( r = .27) and agreeableness ( r = .29) The bivariate correlation among openness and life satisfaction was significant and was the smallest correlation of the five factors with life satisfaction ( r = .16). Ea rlier research examining conscientiousness in relation to life satisfaction found a similarly sized correlation despite the use of a different measure of Meticulous) and sense of respon sibility (i.e., Responsibility how reliable, dependable, and accountable one is; Ho et al., 2008). The significant associations found between life satisfaction and these three personality factors (i.e., conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness) are supported in studies finding these personality factors are associated with a host of adaptive outcomes in youth, including academic achievement
87 (Barbaranelli, Caprara, Rabasca, & Pastorelli, 2003) and self esteem (Graziano, Jensen Campbe ll, & Finch, 1997). O verall contribution of personality to adolescent life satisfaction. The full extent to which personality influences life satisfaction was demonstrated by regression analyses in which all five factors of personality were considered S pecifically, the multiple regression analysis conducted in the current study indicated that almost half of the variance in n was explained by personality. Similarly, a previous study including undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 19 found that over half of (Lounsbury, Saudargas, Gibson, & Leong, 2005). P revious research that had operationa lized personality more narrowly resulted in smaller estimates compared to those studies that conceptualized personality based on the FFM For instance a study of American youth in grades 6 through 12 includ ed measures of extraversion and neuroticism find ing these two personality variables explain ed 16% of the variance in life satisfa ction (McKnight et al., 2002). Similar ly extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientio usness demonstrated that 26% of the variance in life satisfaction was attributed to these three personality factors among 12 to 18 year old Chinese youth The current study is the first to include all of the factors in an explanatory model of life satisfaction in adolescents T he large amount of explained variance in life satisfaction elucidates the importance of including all five factors in studies of personality in relation to life satisfaction.
88 s to life satisfaction In addition to demonstrating the overall link between adolescent life satisfaction and each factor of personality included within a FFM, the current study clarified the relative contribution of each factor in explaining life satisfaction when all five factors were considered N eurotic ism emerged as the strongest predictor of adolescent life satisfaction Further, neuroticism independently accounted for 29% of the variance in life satisfaction after controlling for the variance attributed to the other four factors. The influence of neuroticism is further evident in relative com parisons to the remaining factors such that the four factors were much less salient pr edictors of life satisfaction. Besides neuroticism, e ach factor independently accounted for less than 1% of the variance in life satisfaction when controlling for the variance accounted for by other factors Thus, i n addition to corr esponding highly to life satisfaction, neuroticism is the strong est unique predictor of life satisfaction. T he strong, negative relationship between neuroticism and life satisfaction is likely related to psychopathological symptoms (e.g., anxiety, anger/hostility, depression, self consciousness, impulsiv ity and vulnerability ) associated with neuroticism as psychopathology is inversely correlated with life satisfaction (Huebner, Funk, & Gilman, 2000) This notion is consistent with previous research that suggests adaptive mental health indicators such as emotional stability and having an internal locus of control are associated with higher levels of l ife satisfaction (Dew & Huebner, 1994).
89 When all five factors were considered in regression analyses, extraversion resulted as a significant predictor of life satisfaction and independently explained approximately 1% of variance in life satisfaction scores The influence of e xtraversion on life satisfaction is likely attributed to the increased social skills and engagement afforded youth h igh in this personality trait. Specifically, e xtraversion may be related to life satisfaction through participation in social activities and more specifically, not avoiding social activities (Argyle & Lu 1990a). Additionally, extraversion is related to a number of positive traits (i.e., positive affect ) attributes, and skills (i.e., social competence assertiveness, empathy ) which positively influence subjective well being and life satisfaction (Argyle & Lu, 1990b). In r egression analyses in which all five factors were simultaneously considered c onscientiousness emerged as a significant and independent predictor of life satisfaction Specifically, c onscientiousness explained approximately 1% of the variance when controlling for the influence of the remaining four factors This is consistent with prior studies that emphasiz ed the important role of conscientiousness in explaining life satisfaction particularly among adolescent samples (Hayes & Joseph, 2003 ; Soto, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2008 ). Openness explained a small but a statistically significant proportion of variance in life satisfaction and was similar in magnitude to the predictive ability of extraversion. O penness also independently accounted for approximately 1% of the variance.
90 T he current study found that the role of agreeableness in adolescent life satisfaction was somewhat complex Although the moderate, bivariate correlation between agreeableness and life satisfaction suggested that higher levels of agreeableness co occurred with higher life satisfaction, r esults from the multiple regression indicated that when controlling for the overlap amongst all of the personality factors, agreeableness was not a unique predictor of life satisfaction. Thus the bivariate relationship could be attributed to links between life satisfaction and other personality factors that co occur with experiences of agreeableness, rather than unique features of agreeableness per se. Gender differences in the link between personality factors and life satisf action Results of the multiple regression investigating the interaction between personality factors and gender on life satisfaction demonstrated a significant interaction between agreeableness and gender. Specifically, higher levels of agreeableness predicted higher lif e satisfaction for girls only. The direction of this effect is consistent with the bivariate relationship identified between agreeableness and life satisfaction. For boys, the relationship was non significant ; however, the trend suggest ed by the data was that lower levels of agreeableness were relate d to higher life satisfaction. A lthough mean levels of life satisfaction do not typically differ for boys and girls (see Huebner, 2004), the factors that influence how boys and girls arrive a t life sati sfaction judgments may differ. As the o nly significant personality by gender interaction, t he gender differences in the relationship between agreeableness and life satisfaction may contribute to the inability of agreeableness to exert a unique i nfluence on life satisfaction in the simultaneous
91 regression described earlier. In other words, the role of gender has to be considered in order to understand the relationship between unique features of agreeableness and adolescent life satisfaction. Th e role of perceived classmate support in the relationship between personality factors and life satisfaction. Results of the final research question analyzed relationships among latent constructs representing perceptions of classmate support, personality and life satisfaction via structural equation modeling The hypothesized model in which personality factors directly (except extraversion) and indirectly (through perceived classmate support) related to life satisfaction suggested the model adequately exp lained the relationships among variables. Personality and perceived classmate support accounted for 61% of the variance in life satisfaction. Additionally, personality factors accounted for 39% of the variance in perceived classmate support. The model supp orted the strong link between social support and life satisfaction as perceptions of social support from classmate s contributed additional variance in life satisfaction when compared to variance attributed to personality variables alone After accounting for the indirect path between personality and life satisfaction via perceived classmate support, two personality factors still yielded direct effects on life satisfaction. Neuroticism demonstrated the strongest, albeit inverse, relationshi p with life satisfaction, suggesting a higher level of neuroticism was related to a lower level of life satisfaction beyond the influence of neuroticism on life satisfaction through reduced perceptions of classmate support On the other hand, the influence of o penness on life
92 satisfaction openness were unrelated to their perceptions of classmate support. In general, t he direct relationships between personality factors and perceived classmate support were stronger than direct relationships from personality factors to life satisfaction, with the exception of neuroticism and openness This may be attributed to the increased importance adolescents place on their peer group (Ste inberg, 2002) Thus, relations with peers may be the vehicle by which personality influences life satisfaction. A strongest effect emerged between e xtraversion and perceived classmate support ( path coefficient = .42) indicating higher levels of extraver sion are associated with greater perceptions of classmate support. Findings that revealed perceived classmate support mediated the effect of extraversion on life satisfaction align with previous research suggesting mediational variables ( e.g ., social self efficacy ) in the link between extraversion and life satisfaction (Fogle et al., 2002). Thus, the more adept and skilled one is in developi ng and maintaining friendships (a feature of extraversion) the stronger their relationships with classmates are which in turn influences their overall life satisfaction. These findings are further corroborated by the non significant contribution of the direct relationship from ex traversion to life satisfaction in the model. Thus, in adolescents extraversion is rela ted to life satisfaction through perceptions of supportive classmate relationships, rather than having a strong direct relationship with life satisfaction. Given the strong social motivations and behaviors inherent to extraverted individuals it is
93 logical that that extraverted youth would elicit and thus likely perceive greater levels of support from classmates. T aken together, t hese findings are consistent with the adolescent literature that demonstrates the crucial role of social relati onships (Steinberg, 2002). Because relationships become increasingly important, entering and maintaining friendships Moreover, these f indings are supported by previous research suggesting perceiving relationsh ips with classmates as supportive is related to higher life satisfaction (Suldo & Huebner, 2006) and positive outcomes in youth (Demaray & Malecki, 2002b). Overall, including mediating variables such as perceived classmate support in explanatory models of life satisfaction provide a more comprehensive prediction Contribution to the Literature The current study contributes a comprehensive assessment of personality and life satisfaction by studying the FFM as it relates to life satisfaction. Finding significant bivariate relationships among each of the five personality factors and life satisfacti on addresses a gap in the existing literature by identifying all relationships between adolescent life satisfaction and personality, as conceptualized within the FFM. The significant correlations obtained in the current study between life satisfaction and the three less studied personality factors (i.e., openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) improve our understanding about the association between adolescent
94 personality and life satisfaction, and underscore pers onality and their perceived quality of life. The current findings extend the existing literature, as this is the first study to use the FFM to measure adolescent personality in studies of life satisfaction demonstrating life satisfaction is attributed to personality. Although research consistently points to extroversion and neuroticism as the personality traits most related to life satisfaction (Emmons & Diener, 1986; Heaven, 1989; Huebner 1991b; Diener & Lucas, 1999; McK night et al., 2002; Pavot, Fujita, & Diener, 1997), these conclusions are limited by the use of 3 factor measures of personality and a predominant focus on adult populations. The current examination, with its use of a 5 factor model, illustrated that in ad dition to extraversion and neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness are implicated in the experience of high life satisfaction, as is extraversion. Concerning the individual contribution of the five factors of personality characteristics to life satis faction, findings confirm that neuroticism is a large, inverse predictor of adolescent well bein g, as well as suggest that high levels of conscientiousness are associated with higher life satisfaction in youth. The latter finding is consistent with one previous study that suggest ed the role of conscientiousness in relation to life satisfaction has been understated ( Hayes & Joseph 2003). Lower order traits that make up c onscientiousness reflect enjoyment and pleasure in activities and tasks that require attentive and effortful thinking (e.g., conscientious individuals enjoy and often engage in academic oriented activities, puzzles, mind teasers,
95 etc. ) Similarly, o s or her life satisfaction requires one to make a global judg ment in w that reflect a more objective and stable indicator of well being On the other hand, a ssessments of emotions are less objective and stable because emotions c hange frequently compared to global judgments that take all experiences into relative consideration. The similarities among lower order facets of conscientiousness and the tasks used to make objective judg re flective and thoughtful processes including accuracy in memory retrieval and relative weighting of experiences along with perspective The similarities in the tasks of conscientious individuals along with the tasks that are required to make global judg ment s explain the strong relationship between conscientiousness and life satisfaction (Hayes & Joseph, 2003) Additionally, findings suggest endorsing higher levels of openness were associated with higher levels of life satisfa ction, which is consistent with previous literature demonstrating a relationship between openness and a daptive traits (i.e., academic achievement ) in youth ( Barbaranelli et al., 2003; Mervielde et al., 1995). Finally, the contribution of extraversion to life satisfaction is suppor ted in previous studies finding life satisfaction is attributed to extraversion and experiencing positive social relationships ( i.e., positive interpersonal skills are a core feature of extraverted youth, Fogle et al., 2002; Gilm an & Huebner, 2006).
96 Regarding the role of agreeableness in adolescent life satisfaction, fi ndings from the present study suggest that agreeableness is related to life satisfaction diff erently for boys and girls such that a higher level of agreeableness was related to higher life satisfaction only for girls. This finding contributes to our understanding of gender differences regarding the influence of personality on life satisfaction during adolescence Studies demonstrating similar levels of life satisf action for boys and girls may have overlooked the important role of personality traits. Findings contribute to our understanding of gender specific models for developing life satisfaction that have been suggested in the literature Previous studies with ad ults suggest the process by which men emotional reactions to both positive and negative circumstances offset one another, while men remain steady and temperate in their emotions; however, both men and women experience similar mean levels of happiness (Fujita, 1991). Results from a nother study support the gender specific model of developing life satisfaction, finding similar mean levels of life satisfaction among men and women, however the associations among variables varied by gender. Expressive and communal traits (i.e., caring, gentle, sensitive, and compassionate traits; Bem, 1974) that are associated with stereoty pically feminine traits functioned differently for men and women in predicting life satisfaction. A study of Israeli adults found that for men, endorsing both instrumental and expressive traits was related to higher levels of life satisfaction (Moore, 2003 ). For women, endorsing only instrumental traits (stereotypically masculine traits
97 such as assertiveness, independence, and strength; Bem, 1974) but not expressive traits, was related to higher life satisfaction (Moore, 2003). Gender differences between agreeableness and life satisfaction that were found in the current study (i.e., life satisfaction ) are consistent with research that suggests social and cultural attributes influence the development of gender specific traits during adolescence (Hughes & Seta, 2003). The interplay of evolutionary, cultural, and social influences strengthen specific roles and encourage the developme nt of gender specific traits and behaviors in American youth (see Trautner & Eckes, 2000). Further, research has demonstrated poorer outcomes for those who endorse atypical gender traits (Carver, Yunger, & Perry, 2003; Young & Sweeting, 2004), which may ex plain results of the present study regarding the relationship among high agreeableness and high life satisfaction for girls only. Agreeableness is a stereotypically feminine trait, typically endorsed more by girls than by boys (Carver et al., 2003). Media family, culture, and society contribute to the development of gender specific self concepts for boys and girls. F emininity is encouraged among girls including traits like agreeableness, sensitivity, cooperativeness, and tender mindedness (Young & Sweeti ng, 2004). Consistent with previous research, findings from the current study suggest consistency between sex and expression of stereotypical gender specific traits may affect well being for adolescent girls (Carver et al., 2003). Consistency in expressing stereotypical gender specific traits and behaviors may be particularly important to adolescent well being (see
98 Kroger, 2004). Theory and research on adolescent identity development suggests congruence in one s actual, ideal, and real self, relates to posi tive adjustment and well being (Higgins, 1987). It may be that girls feel pressure to conform to traditionally feminine traits and agreeableness is consistent with their notion of femin in ity One study examined this specific hypothesis among college under graduates, finding self aspect congruence was significantly related to SWB, and agreeableness resulted as significant predictor (Pavot et al., 1997). This study was predominately female ( n = 79 females, n = 39 males) which further supports agreeableness as feminine trait facilitating a congruent self concept and well being. Finally, the current study contributes to the literature by providing support for explanatory models of personality and life satisfaction that include classmate support Whereas the path model tested suggested that youth high in openness are more likely to experience greater life satisfaction regardless of their perceptions of classmate support (which were unrelated to openness), f indings suggest friendships may be an important vehicl e for facilitating adolescent life satisfaction especially adolescents who are extraverted, as well as conscientious and/or agreeable Specifically, this study demonstrated that the influence of those three personality traits on adolescent life satisfacti on is only indirect, such that adolescents with higher levels of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness perceive more social support from their classmates and this support, in turn, is associated with greater life satisfaction. Conversely, thes e personality traits do not appear to be inherently, directly linked to life satisfaction, as
99 social relationships explain the association. As discussed earlier in the section, the indirect link from extraversion and life satisfaction is consistent with pr ior research. Similar empirical rationales are not available to explain why agreeableness and conscientiousness may be only indirectly related to life satisfaction through perceptions of classmate support. Due to the absence of literature with which to confirm or contrast the current findings, the following are logic based, tentative hypotheses regarding the relationships found in the current study. First, a greeableness may relate to life satisfaction through perceptions of classmate support because char acteristics of agreeableness (trust, altruism compliance ) reflect contributions to healthy r elat ionships. While extraversion more obviously entails social traits and behaviors, agreeableness reflects those social behaviors that make interpersonal interact ions pleasant. Thus, it seems plausible that being friendly support from others as others friendly and supportive behaviors It is this perceived support from class mates that relates to the higher levels of agreeableness experienced by some youth. Regarding conscientiousness this enjoyment in learning new things, completing puzzles, and other academic related tasks, which d o not reflect motivations and behaviors that are inherently linked to supportive relationships. The indirect relationship of conscientiousness to life satisfaction found in the current study may be related to the use of a measure perceived classmate suppor t rather than close friends Thus, it may be that conscientious students who frequently
100 endorsed enjoyment of academic related tasks also report ed more frequent support from classmates due to their natural inclination towards academic related activities. T hus, the classmates reported by conscientious students, and the subsequent relationship to life satisfaction. Perceptions of support from classmates are also implicated in th e life satisfaction of youth who reported high levels of neuroticism. T he current study contributes to the literature by demonstrating that neuroticism is associated with life satisfaction both directly (consistent with aforementioned research) as well as indirectly via the inverse association with classmate support. The indirect association may be attributed to the detrimental impact of neurotic behavior on interpersonal relationships. Specifically, characteristics of neuroticism as operationalized in the current study, include rapid mood swings ( item from the APSI : m y mood goes up and down more than most people ) and a lack of self worth ( e.g., s ) which are likely to adversely impact positive relationships w ith peers In contrast, findings from the current study suggest openness do not appear to contribute to their perceptions of classmate support. Openness, as measured by the APSI as well as discovering new cultures and academic subjects. These features seem logically more e; however, at the surface they could also be construed as qualities that could contribute to positive
101 relationships with classmates due to engagement in the learning environment In any openness was the sole personality trait in the current study that was not tied to life satisfaction via perceptions of classmate support. Tak en on the whole, t he significant links from four personality factors to perceived classmate support, and subsequent contribution of personality and perceived classmate support to life satisfaction, development of positive friendships and well being during adolescents. Adolescence represents an important developmental stage in which friendships become increasingly important, thus, the understanding of characteristics related to positive peer and class mate relationships is Implications for Practice The current findings further support the importance of including positive psychological constructs (e.g., measures of life satisfaction), in addition to traditional assessments (e.g., measures of depression and anxiety) in research and practice in order to fully understand factors associated with risk and well being in youth (Suldo & Shaffer, 2008). A dolescents who reported high levels of neuroticism al so reported lower life satisfaction. The close relationship between neuroticism and indicators of psychopathology (i.e., depression, anxiety), and association with low life satisfaction suggest early intervention efforts are warranted for adolescents high in neuroticism in order to mitigate the progression from low life satisfaction to the development of mental illness (c.f., Lewinsohn et al., 1991)
102 well being can help identify adolescents who may be at increased risk for negative psychological outcomes. Additionally, including indicators of life satisfaction and mental ill ness (i.e., depression) provide supplementary, rather than complementary or inverse being more thoroughly than indicators focused on a single end of the continuum (e.g., depression or li fe satisfaction). Although personality research suggests personality is relatively stable throughout the life span, this does not infer personality is unchangeable. Rather, personality that is amendable with intentiona l behavior. E arly and active prevention efforts focused on adolescents who endorse personality traits related to negative outcomes (i.e., neuroticism) may help moderate negative outcomes by providing adaptive and healthy skills. Thus, practitioners should encourage adolescents, particularly those with high levels of neuroticism, to increase positive emotions as well as emotional stability For example, rather than focusing on decreasing neuroticism, it seems more beneficial to focus on increasing positive a ffect (Ng, 2008) and facilitating adaptive emotions, cognitions, and behaviors among youth. Results of the current study also point to an important target for prevention efforts (i.e., perceived classmate support) that may be more malleable than personality. In situations in which youth are either unable or unwilling to embrace more positive ways of thinking and modulating emotions, perhaps direct attempts to enhance peer resources
103 (classmates, close frien ds) may be successful in achieving the ultimate goal, enhancing global life satisfaction A ssist ing youth with interpersonal skills specifically, learning adaptive, positive ways of developing friendships and interacting with classmates may prove beneficia being Friendships are central to well being as main sources of support which enable s adolescents coping abilities (Call & Mortimer, 2001). Understandi interpersonal skills and development of positive friendships including mutual investment, cooperation, and participation in close relationships ( e.g., high degree of disclosure, acceptance etc.) with others may hold promise for improving adolescent well being ( Giordano, 2003) Preventative efforts geared towards students with risk factors (i.e., high neuroticism) should include social skill training and facilitating positive student interactions in the classroom through group assignments and collaborativ e class activities. Overall, the present study contributes theoretical knowledge and understanding regarding the relationship s between personality and positive indicators of well being in adolescents. Although personality is typically stable throughout life, interpersonal traits ( e.g., perceptions of support from classmates ) provide points of intervention to improve Limitations of the Current Study The current study was correlational in nature thus, knowledge regarding causal statements remain unknown for the significant relationships among variables that were
104 obtained in the current study. In addition, the use of self report questionnaires is subject to social desirabil ity. Notably, the SLSS has demonstrated low correlations with measures of social desirability. Experimenter and participant expectations were controlled by the use of a research team to ensure consistency of administration, and the use of scri p ted instruct ions. Limitations of the current study include a lack of generalization of findings beyond high school students residing in Florida. T he use of convenience sampling from four high schools offer ing rigorous academic programs may have lead to a sample that is not representative of the larger population of American youth Further, it is unknown if the D ata regarding the response rate of student participants is unav ailable ; students included in the study were required to return both parent consent and student assent forms, and it is possible the sample could vary in some respect from students who did not return the forms for unknown reasons. Directions for Future Re search The strong relationship between personality and life satisfaction in addition to stability in each of these constructs over time is supported in the literature (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2003; Huebner, Funk, & Gilman, 2000; Suld o & Huebner, 2004b; Steele et al., 2008). However, the majority of studies have been correlational in nature thus, the causal relationships between personality and life satisfaction remain unclear (Steel et al., 2008). Longitudinal studies have found
105 extra version predisposed individuals to experience positive life events, while neuroticism predisposed individuals to experience negative life events (Magnus, Diener, Fujita, & Pavot, 1993). It seems personality may be the causal factor having an effect on life satisfaction due to temporal precedence; however, life satisfaction could be an inherent characteristic that influences the development of personality. Personality and life satisfaction also represent characteristic ways of reacting to and processing even ts (Ash & Huebner, 2001; Fogle et al., 2002; Oishi & Diener, 2001). A longitudinal study examining personality and life satisfaction throughout the life span is needed in order to determine the causal connections between personality and life satisfaction. Future research should also continue to focus on adolescent samples for a few reasons. First, adolescence is a unique developmental stage when personality is malleable, which creates a unique challenge when making conclusions about relationships among pe rsonality factors and indicators of well being. Because personality is more malleable during this time, interventions focused on facilitating resilient traits may prove effective. The unique relationship between extraversion and life satisfaction in adoles cent samples is another area for further investigation. As adolescents increasingly orient themselves towards peers for support (Steinberg, 2002), the role of extraversion in increasing well being may be a key area for intervention with youth. Future research should focus on additional mediators in relationships between personality factors and life satisfaction. To supplement the current findings, future research is needed regarding indirect influences of personality on life satisfaction through
106 relate d mechanisms (e.g., participation in social activities, relationships with others, etc.) that become increasingly important during this stage of development. McKnight et al. the variance in adolescent life satisfaction, beyond that explained by personality variables (i.e., extraversion and neuroticism) alone. Thus, future studies should focus on the FFM of personality and environmental variables, like stressful life events, in predicting adolescent life satisfaction. Additionally, important variables such as affect, culture, cognition, and behaviors (namely, social behavior and interpersonal relationships) that lead to high life satisfaction need thorough examination in order t o understand how to best facilitate life satisfaction in youth. Further research is needed to verify outcomes of interventions focused on improving traits that place adolescents at risk for negative outcomes. Research suggests personality is less cohe rent and more malleable during adolescence, as teens are forming their self concept and identity, and striving for autonomy as they enter adulthood (Hayes & Joseph, 2003). Thus, adolescence may be a crucial time to provide adolescents with adaptive skills (e.g., skills that can mitigate the negative effects of neuroticism such as emotion regulation, coping strategies, and interpersonal skills) while they are open to exploring and discovering who they are. The current findings underscore the importance of including all five factors in measures of personality. Research with youth has been limited to measures of extraversion and neuroticism, which may have overlooked important relationships among
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Appendix A: Parent Consent Form 130 Dear Parent or Legal Guardian: This letter provides informat by professors and graduate students from the University of South Florida. Our goal in conducting the l classes, such as Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate Program, and general courses, on their social and emotional wellness Who We Are : We are Elizabeth Shaunessy, Ph.D., and Shannon Suldo, Ph.D., professors in the College of Education at the University of South Florida (USF) We are planning the study in cooperation with school administrators to ensure the study provides information that will be helpful to the school. : This st udy is being conducted as part of a Being of Secondary Students in Florida. Your child is being asked to participate because he or she is a student at a high school that contains an advanced curriculum (for example, an Internationa l Baccalaureate Program). Why Your Child Should Participate : We need to learn more about what leads to happiness and health during the teenage years The information that we collect from students may help increase our overall knowledge of risk and protective factors that lead to social and emotional wellness during high school In addition, information from the study will be shared with the teachers and administrators at your high school in order to increase their knowledge of what students consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of their schooling and other life experiences. Information from this study will provide a foundation from which to improve the schooling experiences and well being of high school students Please note neither you nor you participation in the study However, all students who participate will be entered into a drawing for one of several gift certificates in the amount of $50 that will be redeemable at a local mall. What Participation R equires : If your child is given permission to participate in the study, he or she will be asked to complete several paper and pencil questionnaires These surveys will ask assmates, family, and life in general We will personally administer the questionnaires on school grounds during regular school hours, to large groups of students who have parent permission to participate Participation will occur during one class period, on one occasion during the fall for students in 10 th 11 th and 12 th grade For these students, participation will take approximately one hour Students who will be in 9 th grade during the 2006 2007 school year will be asked to complete these questionnai res shortly before entering high school and again during the fall For these students, participation will take a total of approximately two hours Another part of participation vision of school discipline referrals, and participation in special classes such as Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate Program, or special educat ion (for example, Gifted education). Please Note : Your decision to allow your child to participate in this research study must be completely voluntary You are free to allow your child to participate in this research study or to
Appendix A: Parent Consent Form 131 withdraw him or her at any time If you choose not to participate, or if you withdraw at any point during the study, this will in no way affect your relationship with your high school, school district, USF, or any other party. : There is minimal risk to your child for participating in this research We will be present during administration of the questionnaires in order to provide assistance to your child if he or she has any questions or concerns Additionally, school guidance counselors will be available to students in the unlikely event that your child becomes emotionally distressed while completing the measures confidential to the extent of the law Authorized research p ersonnel, employees of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the USF Institutional Review Board may inspect the records system personnel or anyone o questionnaires will be assigned a code number to protect the confidentiality of his or her responses Only we will have access to the locked file cabinet stored at USF that will contain: 1) a school records will not be shared with school staff, if your child indicates that he or she intends to harm him or herself or is a threat to others, we will contact district mental health counselors to ensure your : We plan to use the informatio n from this study to inform educators and psychologists about the effects of various high school academic programs being, as well as to construct a plan for improving the schooling experiences that impact social and emotional wellness dur ing adolescence The results of this study may be published. However, the data obtained from your child will be combined with data from other information that would in any way personally identify your child. Questions? If you have any questions about this research study, please contact us at (813) 974 2223 (Dr. Suldo) or (813) 974 7007 (Dr. Shaunessy) rights as a person who is taking part in a research study, you may contact a member of the Division of Research Integrity and Compliance of the University of South Florida at 813 974 9343. Want Your Child to Parti cipate? To permit your child to participate in this study, complete the attached consent form and have your child turn it in to his or her first period teacher. Sincerely, Elizabeth Shaunessy, Ph.D. Shannon Suldo, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Specia l E ducation Assistant Professor of School Psychology Dep artment of Special Education Department of Psychological and Social Foundations --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Cons ent for Child to Take Part in this Research Study I freely give my permission to let my child take part in this study I understand that this is research I have received a copy of this letter and consent form for my records.
Appendix A: Parent Consent Form 132 _____________________________ ___ ______________________________________ Na me of child Grade level of child High school __ ______________________________ ______________________________ ________ Signature of parent Printed name of parent Date Statement of Person Obtaining Informed Consent I certify that participants have been provided with an informed consent form that has been nature, demands, risks, and benefits involved in participating in this study I further certify that a phone number has been provided in the event of additional questions. ________________________________ ________________________________ _____ Signature of pers on Printed name of person Date obtaining consent obtaining consent
Appendix B : Student Assent Form 133 Dear Student: Today you will be asked to take part in a research study by filling out several surveys. We are doing the study to find out how taking different high school classes, such as Advanced social and emotional wellness Who We Are : We are Elizabeth Shaunessy, Ph.D., and Shannon Suldo Ph.D., professors in the College of Education at the University of South Florida We are working with your principals to make sure this study provides information that will be helpful to your school. : This or will be, a student at a high school that contains an advanced curriculum (for example, the International Baccalaure ate Program). Why You Should Take Part in the Study : We need to learn more about what leads to happiness and health during the teenage years! The information that we gather may help us better understand which attitudes within teens as well as which experiences at school lead to emotional wellness during h igh school Also, information from this study will be shared with school staff to help them understand what students consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of their experiences at school and in life. Please note you will not be paid for taking part in the study. However, all students who participate will be entered into a drawing for one of several $50 gift certificates that can be used at a local mall F F i i l l l l i i n n g g O O u u t t t t h h e e S S u u r r v v e e y y s s : : T T h h e e s s e e s s u u r r v v e e y y s s w w i i l l l l a a s s k k a a b b o o u u t t y y o o u u r r t t h h o o u u g g h h t t s s , b b e e h h a a v v i i o o r r s s , a a n n d d a a t t t t i i t t u u d d e e s s t t o o w w a a r r d d s s s s c c h h o o o o l l , t t e e a a c c h h e e r r s s , c c l l a a s s s s m m a a t t e e s s , f f a a m m i i l l y y , a a n n d d l l i i f f e e i i n n g g e e n n e e r r a a l l . W W e e e e x x p p e e c c t t i i t t w w i i l l l l t t a a k k e e b b e e t t w w e e e e n n 3 3 0 0 a a n n d d 6 6 0 0 m m i i n n u u t t e e s s t t o o f f i i l l l l o o u u t t a a l l l l t t h h e e s s u u r r v v e e y y s s . Participation will occur during one class period, on one occasion during the fall for students in 10 th 11 th a nd 12 th grade Students who will be in 9 th grade during the 2006 2007 school year will be asked to complete these surveys shortly before entering high school and again during the fall In total, participation will take up to one hour for students in grad es 10, 11, and 12, and up to two hours for students in 9 th grade. What Else Will Happen if You Are in the Study : If you choose to take part in the study, we will look at some of your school records Under the supervision of school administrators, we wil l access information about your grade point average, discipline record, and whether or not you take special classes such as Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate Program, or special education (for example, Gifted). Confidentiality (Privacy) of Your Responses : We do not expect that t here will be more than minimal risk to you for taking part in this research We will be here to help the entire time you are filling out the surveys in case you have any questions or concerns Your schoo l guidance counselors are also on hand in case you become upset Your privacy and research records will be kept confidential (private, secret) to the extent of the law People approved to do research at USF, people who work for the Department of Health and Human Services, and
Appendix B : Student Assent Form 134 the USF Institutional Review Board may look at the records from this research project but your individual responses will not be shared with people in the school system or anyone other than us and our research assistants. Your complete d surveys will be given a code number to protect the privacy of your responses Only we will have access to the locked file cabinet stored at USF that will contain: 1) all records linking code numbers to names, and 2) all information gathered from school r ecords Please note that although your specific responses will not be shared with school staff, if you indicate you plan to harm yourself or that you are a threat to others, we will contact district mental health counselors to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others. Please Note : Your involvement in this study is completely voluntary. By signing this form, you are agreeing to take part in this research If you choose not to participate, or if you wish to stop taking part in the study at any ti me, you will not be punished in any way If you choose not to participate, it will not affect your relationship with your high school, USF, or anyone else. : We plan to use the information from this study to let others wellness, and to make a plan for improving schooling experiences during the high school years The results of this study may be published. However, your responses will be c ombined with responses from other people in the publication. The published results will not include your name or any other information that would in any way identify you. Questions? If you have any questions about this research study, please raise your hand now or at any point during the study Also, you may contact us later at (813) 974 2223 (Dr. Suldo) or (813) 974 7007 (Dr. Shaunessy) If you have questions about your rights as a person who is taking part in a research study, you may contact a member of the Division of Research Integrity and Compliance of the University of South Florida at 813 974 5638 or the Florida Department of Health, Review Council for Human Subjects at 1 850 245 4585 or toll free at 1 866 433 2775. Thank you for taking the time to take part in this study. Sincerely, Elizabeth Shaunessy, Ph.D. Shannon Suldo, Ph.D. Assistant P rofessor of Special Education Assistant Professor of School Psychology Departm ent of Special Education Dept. of Psychological and Social Foundations --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Assent to Take Part in this Research Study I freely give my permis sion to take part in this study I understand that this is research I have received a copy of this letter and assent form for my records. ________________________ ________________________ ____________ Signature of child Printed name of child Date taking part in the study
Appendix B : Student Assent Form 135 Statement of Person Obtaining Informed Assent I certify that participants have been provided with an informed assent form that has been the nature, demands, risks, and benefits involved in participating in this study I further certify that a phone number has been provided in the event of additional questions. ________________________ ______ __________________ ___________ Signature of person Printed name of person Date obtaining assent obtaining assent
Appendix C : 136 W e would like to know what thoughts about life you've had during the past several weeks Think about how you spend each day and night and the n think about how your life has been during most of this time Here are some questions that ask you to indicate your satisfaction with life. In answering each statement, circle a number from ( 1 ) to ( 6 ) where ( 1 ) indicates you strongly dis agree with the sta tement and ( 6 ) indicates you strongly agree with the statement. Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree 1. My life is going well 1 2 3 4 5 6 2. My life is just right 1 2 3 4 5 6 3. I would like to change many things in my life 1 2 3 4 5 6 4 I wish I had a different kind of life 1 2 3 4 5 6 5 I have a good life 1 2 3 4 5 6 6. I have what I want in life 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 My life is better than most kids' 1 2 3 4 5 6
Appendix D : Classmate Support subscale of the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (CASSS; Malecki et al., 2003) 137 Next, please respond to sentences about some form of support or help that you might get from classmates. Read each sentence carefully and respond to them honestly Rate how often you receive the support described Do not skip any sentences Thank you! My Classmates: Never Almost Never Some of the Time Most of the Time Almost Always Always 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 4. do. 1 2 3 4 5 6 5. things. 1 2 3 4 5 6 6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. something well. 1 2 3 4 5 6 8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 10. me to join activities. 1 2 3 4 5 6 11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 12. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Appendix E : Adolescent Personal Styles Inventory ( APSI ; Lounsbury et al., 200 3 ) 138 Read each sentence Circle the answer that describes you the best Remember to answer honestly no parent or teacher will ever see your answers. Use this scale to help you answer each statement: 1 = Stro ngly Disagree you strongly disagree with the sentence; it really does not describe you at all 2 = Disagree you disagree with the sentence; it does not describe you 3 = In Between you are not sure whether you agree or disagree with this sentenc e; you are undecided 4 = Agree you agree with the sentence; it describes you 5 = Strongly Agree you strongly agree with the sentence; it really describes you Sentence: Strongly Disagree Disagree In Between Agree Strongly Agree 1. I try to get with them. 1 2 3 4 5 2. I am always very careful when I am doing schoolwork 1 2 3 4 5 3. My mood goes up and down more than most people. 1 2 3 4 5 4. I like meeting new people. 1 2 3 4 5 5. I like to learn about new ways of doing things. 1 2 3 4 5 6. I sometimes make fun of other kids in school. 1 2 3 4 5 7. I always finish everything I start. 1 2 3 4 5 8. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm worth much. 1 2 3 4 5 9. It is hard for me to make new friends. 1 2 3 4 5 10. I would like to keep going to school for many years just to learn new things. 1 2 3 4 5 11. People who know me well think I am a very nice, kind person. 1 2 3 4 5 12. I like to plan things before I do them. 1 2 3 4 5 13. I often feel tense or stressed out. 1 2 3 4 5 14. I am very outgoing and talkative. 1 2 3 4 5 15. I like to read books on different subjects. 1 2 3 4 5 16. If anybody says something mean to me, I say something mean right back to them. 1 2 3 4 5 17. I am always on time for meetings with other people. 1 2 3 4 5 18. I sometimes feel like everything I do is wrong or turns out bad 1 2 3 4 5 19. I smile a lot when I am around other people. 1 2 3 4 5
Appendix E : Adolescent Personal Styles Inventory ( APSI ; Lounsbury et al., 200 3 ) 139 20. I like to try new things. 1 2 3 4 5 21. I am very easy to get along with. 1 2 3 4 5 22. I try to be very neat and organized in my homework and class assignments. 1 2 3 4 5 23. 1 2 3 4 5 24. I like to go to big parties where there are a lot of people. 1 2 3 4 5 25. I like to take classes where I learn something I never knew before. 1 2 3 4 5 26. I sometimes trick other people into doing what I want them to do 1 2 3 4 5 27. My teachers can always count on me to do what they ask me to do in class. 1 2 3 4 5 28. I sometimes feel like I'm going crazy. 1 2 3 4 5 29. It is fun for me to talk to people I have just met. 1 2 3 4 5 30. I like to work on problems and puzzles. 1 2 3 4 5 31. I am always polite to other people. 1 2 3 4 5 32. I like to keep everything I own in its proper place. 1 2 3 4 5 33. I get mad easily. 1 2 3 4 5 34. I am a fairly quiet person in most group settings. 1 2 3 4 5 35. I like to visit new places. 1 2 3 4 5 36. I sometimes like to argue with other people just for fun. 1 2 3 4 5 37. I put away all of my things when I am done with them. 1 2 3 4 5 38. I sometimes feel sad or blue. 1 2 3 4 5 39. If I am in a group and no one says anything, I will say something first 1 2 3 4 5 40. I like to find out how people live in other places in the world. 1 2 3 4 5 41. I like to help other people whenever they need it. 1 2 3 4 5 42. I always clean up after I have made a mess. 1 2 3 4 5 43. I feel good about myself most of the time. 1 2 3 4 5 44. I am usually a cheerful person. 1 2 3 4 5 45. I would like to learn how to read and speak a foreign language. 1 2 3 4 5 46. I like to learn new games and hobbies. 1 2 3 4 5 47. Sometimes I say things on purpose to hurt other people's feelings. 1 2 3 4 5 48. I enjoy coming up with new solutions for everyday problems. 1 2 3 4 5
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Interrelationships among personality, perceived classmate support, and life satisfaction in adolescents
h [electronic resource] /
by Devon Minch.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
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Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
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ABSTRACT: Interrelationships among Personality, Perceived Classmate Support, and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents Devon Renee Minch ABSTRACT The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationships among personality factors and life satisfaction in high school students. High school students (N = 625) completed self-report measures of personality characteristics (namely, extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) and global life satisfaction. Results include the specific contribution of each of these personality dimensions as they relate to life satisfaction, gender differences, and the role of perceived classmate support in relationships between personality factors and life satisfaction. Specifically, findings revealed that about 45% of the variance in adolescents' life satisfaction scores was accounted for by their self-reported measures of personality factors. Neuroticism emerged as the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. Further, results demonstrated that openness, conscientiousness, and extraversion were significant and unique predictors of life satisfaction. Gender differences were found in the link between agreeableness and life satisfaction such that a higher level of agreeableness was related to higher life satisfaction for girls, but not for boys. Finally, results of the structural equation model that analyzed the role of perceived classmate support in the link between personality factors and life satisfaction revealed significant paths between four personality factors (excluding openness) and perceived classmate support. Further, the path from extraversion to perceived classmate support showed the strongest standardized path coefficient (.42); suggesting that a higher score on extraversion was associated with a higher level of perceived classmate support which, in turn, predicted higher levels of life satisfaction. Neuroticism demonstrated the strongest, albeit inverse, direct path to life satisfaction, further supporting the finding that higher levels of neuroticism were related to lower levels of life satisfaction. Findings provide school psychologists with a better understanding of the demographic (i.e., gender), stable (i.e., personality) and interpersonal characteristics (i.e., perceptions of classmate support) that place students at-risk for negative outcomes via low life satisfaction or, conversely, facilitate optimal wellness via high life satisfaction.
Advisor: Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.
x Psychological and Social Foundations
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.