Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 1235–1253 | Cite as

Well-Being’s Relation to Religiosity and Spirituality in Children and Adolescents in Zambia

  • Mark D. HolderEmail author
  • Ben Coleman
  • Tim Krupa
  • Eugene Krupa
Research Paper


The relations among dimensions of subjective well-being (i.e., happiness and life satisfaction), spirituality and religiousness were assessed in children (aged 7–12, n = 391) and adolescents (aged 13–19, n = 902) in Zambia. These participants were sampled from schools in both urban and rural regions that represented a relatively wide range of affluence. Participants self-reported their happiness using the Faces Scale and the Subjective Happiness Scale, and their life satisfaction using the Student Life Satisfaction Scale. The surveys were available in English as well as two local languages, and were delivered in classroom settings. To assess religiosity, participants were asked about the frequency that they attended church and about the importance of religion in their life. To assess spirituality, participants were asked about whether they considered themselves to be a spiritual person and about the nature domain of spirituality (e.g., “I feel connected to nature”). Results indicated that age, gender, grade and religiosity were not strong predictors of children’s well-being. However, spirituality accounted for 21 % of the variance in life satisfaction beyond these demographic variables and religiosity, but did not account for additional variance in happiness. The results were similar for adolescents except that the demographic variables were weakly predictive of their life satisfaction, and religiosity was a modest predictor of their happiness. Spirituality predicted variance in happiness and life satisfaction more so among adolescents than among children. These results confirm earlier work showing that spirituality, but not necessarily religiosity, is associated with children’s and adolescents’ well-being.


Happiness Life satisfaction Well-being Spirituality Religion Children Adolescents Culture 



We are very grateful to Alexa Geddes for her help in collecting and entering the data, and for facilitating partnerships in Zambia. We thank the faculty, principals, and staff of the following schools for their kind assistance: Bwafwano Community School, Roma Girls School, Senanga Basic School, Livingstone Basic School, Chazenga Basic School, and Mukamusaba Basic School. We appreciate the advice and direction of Dr. Robert Serpell at University of Zambia. Finally, we thank Mark Bennett, CEO of iSchool Africa, for his support. Mark Bennett recently passed away and his vision and action in support of development of children and adolescents is missed.

Ethical standard

This study was funded by a University of British Columbia Undergraduate Research Award given to M. Holder and T. Krupa. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark D. Holder
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ben Coleman
    • 2
  • Tim Krupa
    • 1
  • Eugene Krupa
    • 3
  1. 1.Psychology, IKBSASUniversity of British Columbia OkanaganKelownaCanada
  2. 2.Okanagan CollegeVernonCanada
  3. 3.School of Public Health, 3-300 Edmonton Clinic Health AcademyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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