Child Indicators Research

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 349–366 | Cite as

The Role of Coping in Mediating the Relationship Between Positive Affect and School Satisfaction in Adolescents

  • Vanessa C. Bordwine
  • E. Scott Huebner


Little research has investigated the role of positive emotions among youth in the school setting. Fredrickson’s (2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions hypothesizes that frequent positive emotions broaden individuals’ thinking and behavior resulting in enhanced psychological resources, such as a high level of school satisfaction. This study used Fredrickson’s theory to investigate whether approach coping behaviors mediated the relationship between positive emotions and adolescents’ school satisfaction. Results indicated that positive and negative affect related significantly to school satisfaction. Furthermore, positive affect (but not negative affect) correlated significantly with approach coping strategies. Finally, approach coping styles partially mediated the relationship between positive affect and school satisfaction. These findings thus suggest that the presence of positive emotions during school is crucial for adolescents’ school satisfaction. The findings also suggest that frequent positive emotions serve to facilitate students’ approach coping behaviors, which in turn facilitate satisfaction with their schooling experiences. Implications for the development of child indicators of subjective well-being as well as the promotion of students’ positive school experiences are discussed.


Positive emotions School satisfaction Coping Adolescents 


  1. Antaramian, S., & Huebner, E. S. (2009). Stability of adolescent life satisfaction reports. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27, 421–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, J. A. (1998). The social context of school satisfaction among urban, low-income African-American students. School Psychology Quarterly, 13, 25–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, J. A. (1999). Teacher–student interaction in urban at-risk classrooms: differential behavior, relationship quality, and student satisfaction with school. Elementary School Journal, 100, 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, J. A., & Maupin, A. N. (2009). School satisfaction and children’s positive school adjustment. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in the schools (pp. 189–196). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychology research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ben-Arieh, A. (2008). The child indicators movement: past, present, and future. Child Indicators Research, 1, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ben-Arieh, A., & Frones, I. (2007). Indicators of children’s well-being: concepts, indices, and usage. Social Indicators Research, 80, 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bradshaw, J., Hoelscher, P., & Richardson, D. (2007). An index of child well-being in the European Union. Social Indicators Research, 80, 133–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Causey, D. L., & Dubow, E. F. (1992). Development of a self-report coping measure for elementary school children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 47–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeSantis-King, A. L., Huebner, S., Suldo, S. M., & Valois, R. F. (2006). An ecological view of school satisfaction in adolescence: linkages between social support and behavior problems. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1, 279–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: toward an economy of well-being. Psychology Science in the Public Interest, 5, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eamon, M. K. (2002). Influences and mediators of the effect of poverty on young adolescent depressive symptoms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 31, 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elmore, G., & Huebner, E. S. (2010). Adolescents’ satisfaction with school experiences: relationships with demographics, attachment relationships, and school engagement. Psychology in the Schools.Google Scholar
  14. Epstein, J. L., & McPartland, J. M. (1976). The concept and measurement of the quality of school life. American Educational Research Journal, 13, 15–30.Google Scholar
  15. Felner, R. D., Brand, S., Adan, A. M., Mulhall, P. F., Flowers, N., Saratain, B., et al. (1993). Restructuring the ecology of the school as an approach to prevention during school transitions: longitudinal follow-ups and extensions of the school transitional environment project (STEP). Prevention in Human Services, 10, 103–136.Google Scholar
  16. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. (1980). Analysis of coping in a middle-aged sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13, 172–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frijda, N. H. (1994). Emotions are functional, most of the time. In P. Elkman & R. Davidson (Eds.), The nature of emotion: Fundamental questions (pp. 112–122). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gilman, R., Huebner, E. S., & Laughlin, J. E. (2000). A first study of the multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale with adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 52, 135–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hembree, R. (1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety. Review of Educational Research, 58, 47–77.Google Scholar
  22. Hirsch, B. J., & Rapkin, B. D. (1987). The transition to junior high school: a longitudinal study of self-esteem, psychological symptomatology, school life, and social support. Child Development, 58, 1235–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huebner, E. S. (1994). Preliminary development and validation of a multidimensional life satisfaction scale for children. Psychological Assessment, 6, 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huebner, E. S. (2004). Research on assessment of life satisfaction in children and adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 66, 3–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huebner, E. S., & Gilman, R. (2003). Toward a focus on positive psychology in school psychology. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 99–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huebner, E. S., & Gilman, R. (2006). Students who like and dislike school. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1, 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huebner, E. S., & McCullough, G. (2000). Correlates of school satisfaction among adolescents. Journal of Educational Research, 93, 331–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huebner, E. S., Laughlin, J. E., Ash, C., & Gilman, R. (1998). Further validation of the multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 16, 118–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huebner, E. S., Gilman, R., Reschly, A., & Hall, R. (2009). In S. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 561–568). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Karatzias, A., Power, K. G., Flemming, J., Lennan, F., & Swanson, V. (2002). The role of demographics, personality variables and school stress on predicting school satisfaction/dissatisfaction: review of the literature and research findings. Educational Psychology, 22, 33–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Klimes-Dougan, B., & Bolger, A. K. (1998). Coping with maternal depressed affect and depression. Adolescent children of depressed and well mothers. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ladd, G. W., Kochenderfer, B. J., & Coleman, C. C. (1996). Friendship quality as a predictor of young children’s early school adjustment. Child Development, 67, 1103–1118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ladd, G. W., Buhs, E. S., & Seid, M. (2000). Children’s initial sentiments about kindergarten: is school liking an antecedent of early classroom participation and achievement? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46, 255–279.Google Scholar
  34. Laurent, J., Catanzaro, S. J., Joiner, T. E., Rudolph, K. D., Potter, K. I., Lambert, S., et al. (1999). A measure of positive and negative affect for children: scale development and preliminary validation. Psychological Assessment, 11, 326–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Locke, T. F., & Newcomb, M. D. (2004). Adolescent predictors of young adult and adult alcohol involvement and dysphoria in a prospective community sample of women. Prevention Science, 5, 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Malin, A., & Linnakyla, P. (2001). Multilevel modeling in repeated measures of the quality of Finnish school life. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 45, 145–166.Google Scholar
  37. Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., & Perry, R. P. (2002). Academic emotions in students’ self-regulated learning and achievement: a program of qualitative and quantitative research. Educational Psychologist, 37, 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731.Google Scholar
  39. Roth, S., & Cohen, L. J. (1986). Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress. American Psychologist, 41, 813–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Silver, R. L., & Wortman, C. B. (1980). Coping with undesirable life events. In J. Garber & M. E. P. Seligman (Eds.), Human helplessness: Theory and applications (pp. 279–340). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  41. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic intervals for indirect effects in structural equations models. In S. Leinhart (Ed.), Sociological methodology (pp. 290–312). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  42. Suldo, S. M., Huebner, E. S., Michalowski, J., & Thalji, A. (2010). Promoting subjective well-being. In M. Bray & T. Kehle (Eds.), Oxford handbook of school psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Verkuyten, M., & Thijs, J. (2002). School satisfaction of elementary school children: the role of performance, peer relations, ethnicity and gender. Social Indicators Research, 59, 203–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Watson, D., Clark, L., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of a brief measure of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zeidner, M. (1998). Test anxiety: The state of the art. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations