Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 2431–2455 | Cite as

Children’s and Adolescents’ Conceptions of Happiness

  • Belén López-PérezEmail author
  • Janice Sánchez
  • Michaela Gummerum
Research Paper


Previous research on children’s and adolescents’ happiness has mainly focused on the different variables that may contribute to it. However, very few studies have investigated the beliefs that children and adolescents hold about happiness. It is important to study developmental and gender differences in the conceptions of happiness as beliefs affect people’s emotions and behaviors, and they may help explain how children and adolescents strive for their own (and potentially others’) happiness. To that aim, we conducted two different studies. In Study 1a 20 people (lay judges) completed two categorization tasks to obtain categorization systems that may include all the relevant content categories identified in previous literature with adults, adolescents and children. In Study 1b, we asked 162 children and adolescents to define—in their own words—what happiness meant for them. Their responses were coded according to two different systems derived from previous finding with adults and children and to an alternative coding system derived from the qualitative analyses of children’s and adolescents’ responses. Overall, results showed that hedonic conceptualization of happiness were mainly present in late childhood; whereas eudaimonic conceptualizations were mainly present in adolescence. No significant gender differences were found.


Happiness Children Adolescents Lay-theories 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Belén López-Pérez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janice Sánchez
    • 2
  • Michaela Gummerum
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  2. 2.University College of LondonLondonUK

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