Please May I Have a Bike? Better Yet, May I Have a Hug? An Examination of Children’s and Adolescents’ Happiness
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Academic research on children’s and adolescents’ happiness has been slow to develop. This research provides an empirical investigation to answer the question, “What makes children and adolescents happy?” We explore this question in two studies with a total of 300 participants ages 8–18. Study 1 asks participants to answer the open-ended question, “What makes me happy?” There were five emergent themes—“people and pets,” “achievements,” “material things,” “hobbies,” and “sports”. Study 2 also asks participants to answer the question, “What makes me happy?”, but uses two different measures (a semi-structured thought listing task and a collage task). Using three different happiness measures, we found consistent age differences in what children perceive to make them happy.
KeywordsChildren Adolescents Happiness Life satisfaction Subjective well-being Collage
The author acknowledges and thanks Deborah Roedder John for her guidance in shaping this project. In addition, the author thanks the children and adolescents of summer camps in the Midwestern and Eastern United States for their participation, as well as her nieces, nephews, friends, and neighbors who served as pretest participants. The author thanks Allison Heim for her help with the literature review, as well as Michelle F. Weinberger and Mary Kate McVey for their help in formatting and reading prior drafts of this manuscript. Finally, the author acknowledges the guidance by the JOHS editor and reviewers. This research was funded by an Association for Consumer Research Sheth Dissertation Proposal Award and research support from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Arizona and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
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