Child Indicators Research

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 439–458 | Cite as

Do Intelligence, Intensity of Felt Emotions and Emotional Regulation Have an Impact on Life Satisfaction? A Quali-quantitative Study on Subjective Wellbeing with Italian Children Aged 8–11

  • Nicoletta Businaro
  • Francisco Pons
  • Ottavia Albanese


According to the hedonic perspective of Positive Psychology and based on children’s literature, the aim of the present study is twofold: to investigate the factors which could elicit a sense of wellbeing in children; to assess the impact of personal factors (non-verbal intelligence, positive/negative emotions and regulation of positive/negative emotions) on children’s satisfaction in life. The participants were 132 Italian children between the ages of 8 and 11. Content analysis and quantitative analysis were conducted. Analysis of word associations revealed that the term wellbeing was associated with family, school, friendship, sports, the emotion of happiness, enjoyment, company, relaxation and feeling loved and protected. Analysis of specific typical associations revealed that females were more likely to describe wellbeing in socio-emotional terms (love/feeling safe) and boys in terms of play. Furthermore, the regression analyses showed that intensity of felt emotions had an impact on life satisfaction, while capacity to regulate emotions and non-verbal intelligence did not. It also pointed out the gender differences in subjective wellbeing: in boys the intensity of positive emotions triggered satisfaction with self; while in girls, the level of life satisfaction was explained both by high intensity of positive emotions and by low intensity of negative emotions. The results are discussed in order to highlight the importance of measuring and monitoring children’s life satisfaction to foster optimal conditions of life and to prevent maladaptive adjustment.


Children Life satisfaction Intensity of emotions Non-verbal intelligence Emotion regulation 


  1. Barlow, J. H., & Ellard, D. R. (2006). The psychosocial well-being of children with chronic disease, their parents and siblings: an overview of the research evidence base. Child: Care, Health and Development, 32(1), 19–31.Google Scholar
  2. Belacchi, C., Scalisi, T. G., Cannoni, E., & Cornoldi, C. (2008). CPM-coloured progressive matrices. Standardizzazione italiana. Firenze: Giunti O.S.Google Scholar
  3. Ben-Arieh, A. (2008). The child indicators movement: past, present and future. Child Indicators Research, 1, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Besozzi, E. (2003). Il genere come risorsa comunicativa. Maschile e femminile nei processi di crescita. Milan: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  5. Bierman, K. (2004). Peer rejection: Developmental processes and intervention strategies. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brantley, A., Huebner, E. S., & Nagle, R. J. (2002). Multidimensional life satisfaction reports of adolescents with mild mental disabilities. Mental Retardation, 40, 321–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life. New York: Sage Found.Google Scholar
  8. Capanna, C., Steca, P., Mecaroni, M., & Fratte, A. (2005). La soddisfazione di vita e le sue relazioni con i cinque fattori di personalità. Rassegna di Psicologia, 3, 21–33.Google Scholar
  9. Caprara, G. V., & Steca, P. (2005). Affective and social self-regulatory efficacy beliefs as determinants of positive thinking and happiness. European Psychologist, 10(4), 275–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chaplin, L. N. (2009). Please may I have a bike? Better yet, may I have a hug? An examination of Children’s and Adolescents’ Happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 541–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ciucci, E., Corso, A. M., Antoniotti, C., & Grazzani Gavazzi, I. (2011). Dati preliminari per la validazione italiana dell’HIF (How I Feel): una misura di autovalutazione dell’emozionalità e della regolazione emotiva nei bambini. In I. Grazzani Gavazzi & C. Riva Crugnola, Lo sviluppo della competenza emotiva dall’infanzia all’adolescenza. Percorsi tipici e atipici e strumenti di valutazione (pp. 253–262). Milano: Unicopli.Google Scholar
  12. Cohn, A. M., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness unpacked: positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. American Psychological Association, 9(3), 361–368.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Hunter, J. (2003). Happiness in everyday life: the uses of experience sampling. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Danielsen, A. G., Samdal, O., Hetland, J., & Wold, B. (2009). School-related social support and students’ perceived life satisfaction. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(4), 303–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: an introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Delle Fave, A. (Ed.). (2006). Dimensions of well-being. Research and intervention. Milan: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  17. Di Fabio, A., & Ghizzani, F. (2007). La soddisfazione di vita in un campione di apprendisti maggiorenni: Alcuni correlati e predittori. Giornale Italiano Di Psicologia Dell’Orientamento, 8(1), 3–11.Google Scholar
  18. Diener, E. (Ed.). (2009). The science of well-being: The collected works of Ed Diener. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Eisenberg, N., & Spinrad, T. L. (2004). Emotion-related regulation: sharpening the definition. Child Development, 75(2), 334–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Eggum, N. D. (2010). Emotion-related self-regulation and its relation to children’s maladjustment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 495–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fisher, A. H. (2000). Gender and emotion. Social psychological perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fivush, R. (2007). Maternal reminiscing style and children’s developing understanding of self and emotion. Clinical Social Work Journal, 35, 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fomby, P., & Cherlin, A. J. (2007). Family instability and child well-being. American Sociological Review, 72, 181–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gilman, R., & Huebner, S. (2003). A review of life satisfaction research with children and adolescents. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gilman, R., & Huebner, E. S. (2006). Characteristics of adolescents who report very high life satisfaction. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(3), 311–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 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
  27. Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Grazzani Gavazzi, I., & Albanese, O. (2006). Adolescenza ed emozioni positive: Uno studio con diario. In O. Albanese, L. Lafortune, M. F. Daniel, P. A. Doudin, & F. Pons (Eds.), Competenza emotiva tra psicologia ed educazione (pp. 48–65). Milan: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  29. Gross, J. J. (Ed.). (2007). Handbook of emotion regulation. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  30. Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 348–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gross, J. J., Richards, J. M., & John, O. P. (2006). Emotion regulation in everyday life. In D. K. Snyder, J. A. Simpson, & J. N. Hughes (Eds.), Emotion regulation in families: Pathways to dysfunction and health (pp. 13–35). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gullone, E., & Taffe, J. (2012). The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (ERQ-CA): a psychometric evaluation. Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 409–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Holder, M. D. (2012). Happiness in children. Measurement, correlates and enhancement of positive subjective well-being. New York: SpringerBriefs.Google Scholar
  34. Holder, M. D., Coleman, B., & Sehn, Z. L. (2009). The contribution of active and passive leisure to children’s well-being. Journal of Health Psychology, 14(3), 378–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huebner, E. S. (1994). Preliminary development and validation of a multidimensional life satisfaction scale for children. Psychological Assessment, 6(2), 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Huebner E.S. (2001). Manual for the Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale.
  37. Huebner, E. S. (2004). Research on assessment of life satisfaction of children and adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 66, 3–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huebner, E. S., & Alderman, G. L. (1993). Convergent and discriminant validation of a children’s life satisfaction scale: its relationship to self- and teacher-reported psychological problems and school functioning. Social Indicators Research, 30, 71–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Huebner, E. S., & Gilman, R. (2002). An Introduction to the Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale. Social Indicators Research, 60(1), 115–122.Google Scholar
  40. Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. M., Smith, L. C., & McKnight, C. G. (2004). Life satisfaction in children and youth: empirical foundations and implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Huebner, E. S., Hills, K. J., Jiang, X., Long, R. F., Kelly, R., & Lyons, M. D. (2014). Schooling and children’s subjective well-being. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes, & J. L. Korbin (Eds.), Handbook of child well-being. theories, methods and policies in the global perspective (pp. 797–819). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Isaacowitz, D. M., & Smith, J. (2003). Positive and negative affect in very old age. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 58, 143–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwarz, N. (Eds.). (2003). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  44. Lancia, F. (2004). Strumenti per l’Analisi dei Testi. Introduzione all’uso di T-LAB. Milan: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  45. Land, K. C. (Ed.). (2012). The well-being of America’s children. Developing and improving the child and youth well-being index. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  46. Laurent, J., Catanzaro, J. S., Joiner, T. E., Rudolph, D. K., 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(3), 326–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leversen, I., Danielsen, A. G., Birkeland, M. S., & Samdal, O. (2012). Basic psychological need satisfaction in leisure activities and adolescents’ life satisfaction. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 41, 1588–1599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lippman, L. H., Anderson, M. K., & McIntosh, H. (2009). Positive indicators of child well-being: A conceptual framework, measures and methodological issues. Innocenti working paper 21. Florence: Unicef Innocenti Research Centre.Google Scholar
  49. Lyubomirsky, S. L., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 14, 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Marques, S. C., Pais-Ribeiro, J. L., & Lopez, S. J. (2011). The role of positive psychology constructs in predicting mental health and academic achievement in children and adolescents: a two-year longitudinal study. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 373–392.Google Scholar
  51. Martin, C., & Ruble, D. (2004). Children’s search for gender cues: cognitive perspectives on gender development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), 67–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. McCabe, K., Bray, M. A., Kehle, T. J., Theodore, L. A., & Gelbar, N. W. (2011). Promoting happiness and life satisfaction in school children. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 26(3), 177–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Miller, C. T. (Ed.). (2008). Games: Purpose and potential in education. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  54. Monzani, D., Greco, A., & Steca, P. (2011). Obiettivi e soddisfazione di vita. Rassegna di Psicologia, 28(2), 9–23.Google Scholar
  55. Natvig, G. K., Albrektsen, G., & Qvarnstrøm, U. (2003). Associations between psychosocial factors and happiness among school adolescents. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 9, 166–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Newland, L. A. (2014). Supportive family contexts: promoting child well-being and resilience. Early Child Development and Care, Published Online, 1–11.Google Scholar
  57. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Rusting, C. I. (2003). Gender differences in well-being. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 330–350). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Nyklícek, I., Vingerhoet, A., & Zeelenberg, M. (Eds.). (2011). Emotion regulation and well-being hardcover. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  59. Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Zumbo, B. D. (2010). Life satisfaction in early adolescence: personal, neighborhood, school, family, and peer influences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 889–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Palmore, E. (1979). Predictors of successful aging. The Gerontologist, 19, 427–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Park, N., Huebner, E. S., Laughlin, J. E., Valois, R. F., & Gilman, R. (2004). A cross-cultural comparison of the dimensions of child and adolescent life satisfaction reports. Social Indicators Research, 66, 1–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2004). The subjective evaluation of well-being in adulthood: findings and implications. Ageing International, 29, 113–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pedersen, S., & Seidman, E. (2004). Team sports achievement and self-esteem development among urban adolescent girls. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(4), 412–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: a review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 583–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Raven, J. C. (1984). Manual for the Coloured Progressive Matrices (Revised). Windsor, UK: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  66. Rimè, B. (2008). La dimensione sociale delle emozioni. Bologna: Il Mulino.Google Scholar
  67. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2008). Self-determination theory. In P. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 416–437). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  68. Sandvik, E., Diener, E., & Seidlitz, L. (2009). Subjective well-being: The convergence and stability of self-report and non-self-report measures. In E. Diener (Ed.), Assessing well-being. The collected works of Ed Diener (pp. 119–138). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology. An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Siegelman, L. (1981). Is ignorance bliss? A reconsideration of the folk wisdom. Human Relations, 34, 965–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sirgy, M. J. (2012). The psychology of quality of life: Hedonic well-being, life satisfaction and eudaimonia. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Suldo, S. M., Riley, K., & Shaffer, E. S. (2006). Academic correlates of children and adolescents’ life satisfaction. School Psychology International, 27(5), 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Unicef Office of Research. (2013). Child well-being in rich countries: A comparative overview. Innocenti Report Card 11. Florence: Unicef Office of Research.Google Scholar
  74. Valois, R. F., Zullig, K. J., Huebner, E. S., & Drane, J. W. (2009). Youth developmental assets and perceived life satisfaction: is there a relationship? Applied Research in Quality of Life, 4, 315–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vitaro, F., Boivin, M., & Bukowski, W. M. (2009). The role of friendship in child and adolescent development. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 568–585). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  76. Walden, T. A., Harris, H. S., & Catron, T. F. (2003). How I feel: a self-report measure of emotional arousal and regulation for children. Psychological Assessment, 15(3), 399–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicoletta Businaro
    • 1
  • Francisco Pons
    • 2
  • Ottavia Albanese
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human SciencesUniversity of Milan BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations