Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 19–42 | Cite as

Increasing Middle School Students’ Life Satisfaction: Efficacy of a Positive Psychology Group Intervention

  • Shannon M. SuldoEmail author
  • Jessica A. Savage
  • Sterett H. Mercer
Research Paper


This study identified middle school students who were less than delighted with their lives (reported life satisfaction scores between 1 and 6 on a 7-point scale), and attempted to improve these students’ mental health via a 10-week group wellness-promotion intervention developed from prior applications of positive psychology research. Complete data at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up was gathered from 55 sixth grade students who were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (n = 28) or wait-list control (n = 27). Repeated measures analyses of a propensity score matched sample of 40 participants indicated a significant group by time interaction for global life satisfaction from baseline to post-intervention. Specifically, life satisfaction of students in the intervention group increased significantly, while the control group declined during the same period (although this change was not statistically significant). The intervention group’s gains were maintained at follow-up, but were matched by similar gains for students in the control group. No effects of intervention group were identified in the indicators of affect or psychopathology. The improvements in life satisfaction evidenced by students in the intervention group during the first semester of middle school are important given the adjustment difficulties that often appear during this sensitive developmental period marked by biological and educational changes.


Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Randomized control trial Adolescents Happiness interventions 



This work was supported, in part, by the University of South Florida Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities. The authors of this manuscript would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following members of their university research team: Amanda Thalji-Raitano, Allison Friedrich, Tiffany Stewart, Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, and Dr. Ellis Gesten.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon M. Suldo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica A. Savage
    • 1
  • Sterett H. Mercer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Social FoundationsUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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