Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1255–1274 | Cite as

Unique Contributions of Positive Schemas for Understanding Child and Adolescent Life Satisfaction and Happiness

  • R. M. TomlinsonEmail author
  • L. Keyfitz
  • J. S. Rawana
  • M. N. Lumley
Research Paper


Much research has examined negative cognitive schemas as associates of psychopathology. Although some research has established relations between positive cognitive schemas and psychopathology, little research has examined positive cognitive schemas in the context of well-being among children and adolescents. In the current study, contributions of positive schemas to two indicators of well-being, namely happiness and life satisfaction, were examined. Specifically we examined how positive schemas predict well-being beyond negative schemas, whether age and gender moderate the relations between positive schemas and well-being, and the contributions of specific positive schema themes to well-being. 282 child and adolescent boys (n = 122) and girls (n = 160) aged 8–18 (M = 13.37, SD = 2.18), completed measures of positive schemas, negative schemas, life satisfaction, and happiness. Results indicated that positive schemas related to life satisfaction and happiness beyond negative schemas, supporting the importance of examining positive schemas in models of well-being. Positive schemas were more strongly tied to happiness in older adolescents versus younger children, but the relations between positive schemas and life satisfaction did not vary as a function of age. Gender effects indicate that the relation between positive schemas and life satisfaction and happiness was stronger for females than for males. When the relative contributions of positive schema themes (i.e., trust, worthiness, optimism, success, self-efficacy) were explored in the prediction of life satisfaction and happiness, worthiness emerged as the strongest predictor. Results emphasize the importance of considering positive schemas in models of well-being among children and adolescents.


Life satisfaction Happiness Positive schemas Worthiness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. M. Tomlinson
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Keyfitz
    • 1
  • J. S. Rawana
    • 2
  • M. N. Lumley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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