Social Indicators Research

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 485–514 | Cite as

American High School Students’ Perceptions of Determinants of Life Satisfaction

  • Shannon M. SuldoEmail author
  • Michael James Frank
  • Ashley M. Chappel
  • Melanie McMahan Albers
  • Lisa P. Bateman


Life satisfaction can be assessed either globally or with regard to satisfaction with specific domains of life. The latter multidimensional approach presumes science has delineated with confidence the specific domains most relevant to evaluating whether the criteria for a good life have been met. This paper shares results of a qualitative study of the perceived determinants of life satisfaction among 30 high school students who were diverse in terms of mental health; 6–10 participants were classified as complete mental health, vulnerable, symptomatic but content, or troubled at two time points separated by a year. Thematic analyses of transcribed individual interviews suggested eight themes that capture the domains of life adolescents perceive influence their happiness. These themes are compared and contrasted to domains included in existing multi-dimensional measures of youth life satisfaction. The factors likely to be particularly salient to students with different levels of mental health are noted.


Subjective well-being Multidimensional life satisfaction Adolescents Qualitative Dual-factor model 



The authors of this manuscript would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following members of their university research team: Cheryl Gelley, Rachel Roth, Bryan Bander, Sim Yin Tan, Brittany Hearon, Kimberly Knap, Mollie McCullough, and Renee Ornduff.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon M. Suldo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael James Frank
    • 1
  • Ashley M. Chappel
    • 1
  • Melanie McMahan Albers
    • 1
  • Lisa P. Bateman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Social FoundationsUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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