Skip to main content

The Relationships Among Gratitude, Self-esteem, Social Support and Life Satisfaction Among Undergraduate Students

Abstract

Gratitude is a positive psychological characteristic that is connected to well-being. The aim of this study is to examine the effects of both social support and self-esteem in the association between gratitude and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Four hundred and twenty-seven Chinese undergraduate participants were asked to complete the Gratitude Questionnaire, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale, the Multi-Dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Path analysis indicated that social support acted as a full mediator of the association between gratitude and life satisfaction. The identified model also revealed a significant path from gratitude through social support and self-esteem to life satisfaction. Furthermore, a multi-group analysis indicated that males with high gratitude scores are more likely to get greater social support than females, while females with high social support scores tended to report greater life satisfaction than males. The present findings provide valuable guidance for how to implement psychological interventions aimed at enhancing undergraduates’ well-being.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  • Akaike, H. (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrika, 52, 317–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, J. C., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 411–423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arbuckle, J. L. (2003). AMOS 5.0 update to the AMOS user’s guide. Chicago, IL: Smallwaters.

  • Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Byrne, B. (2001). Structural equation modeling with amos: Basic concepts, applications and programming. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen, L. H. (2013). Gratitude and adolescent athletes’ well-being: The multiple mediating roles of perceived social support from coaches and teammates. Social Indicators Research, 114, 273–285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen, L. H., Chen, M. Y., & Tsai, Y. M. (2012). Does gratitude always work? Ambivalence over emotional expression inhibits the beneficial effect of gratitude on well-being. International Journal of Psychology, 47, 381–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen, L. H., & Kee, Y. H. (2008). Gratitude and adolescent athletes well-being. Social Indicators Research, 89, 361–373.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cheng, S. T., & Chan, A. (2006). Social support and self-rated health revisited: Is there a gender difference in later life? Social Science and Medicine, 63, 118–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunn, J. C., Whelton, W. J., & Sharpe, D. (2006). Maladaptive perfectionism, hassles, coping, and psychological distress in university professors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 511–523.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Emmons, R. A., & Shelton, C. M. (2002). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 459–471). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 145–166). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 633–650.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hermans, H. J. M. (1992). Unhappy self-esteem: A meaningful exception to the rule. Journal of Psychology, 126, 555–570.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, M. A., Ushpiz, V., & Levy-Shiff, R. (1988). Social support and self-esteem in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 17, 307–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jöreskog, K. G., & Sorbom, D. (1989). LISREL 7: A guide to the program and applications. Chicago: SPSS.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kashdan, T. B., Mishra, A., Breen, W. E., & Froh, J. J. (2009). Gender differences in gratitude: Examining appraisals, narratives, the willingness to express emotions, and changes in psychological needs. Journal of Personality, 77, 691–730.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kashdan, T. B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaemonic well-being in Vietnam war veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 177–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kong, F., Wang, X., & Zhao, J. (2014). Dispositional mindfulness and life satisfaction: The role of core self-evaluations. Personality and Individual Differences, 56, 165–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kong, F., & You, X. (2013). Loneliness and self-esteem as mediators between social support and life satisfaction in late adolescence. Social Indicators Research, 110, 271–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kong, F., & Zhao, J. (2013). Affective mediators of the relationship between trait emotional intelligence and life satisfaction in young adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 197–201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kong, F., Zhao, J., & You, X. (2012a). Social support mediates the influence of emotional intelligence on mental distress and life satisfaction in Chinese young adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 513–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kong, F., Zhao, J., & You, X. (2012b). Emotional intelligence and life satisfaction in Chinese university students: The mediating role of self-esteem and social support. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 1039–1043.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lefkowitz, E. S., & Zeldow, P. B. (2006). Masculinity and femininity predict optimal mental health: A belated test of the androgyny hypothesis. Journal of Personality Assessment, 87, 95–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levant, R. F., & Kopecky, G. (1995). Masculinity, reconstructed. New York: Dutton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Li, D., Zhang, W., Li, X., Li, N., & Ye, B. (2012). Gratitude and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among Chinese Adolescents: Direct, mediated, and moderated effects. Journal of adolescence, 35, 55–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Little, T. D., Cunningham, W. A., Shahar, G., & Widaman, K. F. (2002). To parcel or not to parcel: Exploring the question, weighing the merits. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 9, 151–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mack, J. E. (1983). Self-esteem and its development: An overview. In J. E. Mack & S. L. Ablon (Eds.), The development and sustenance of self-esteem in childhood (pp. 1–42). New York: International Universities Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maxwell, S. E., & Cole, D. A. (2007). Bias in cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal mediation. Psychological Methods, 12, 23–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maxwell, S. E., Cole, D. A., & Mitchell, M. A. (2011). Bias in cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal mediation: Partial and complete mediation under an autoregressive model. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 46, 816–841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mruk, C. (1995). Self-esteem: Research, theory, and practice. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Park, H., Paul Heppner, P., & Lee, D. (2010). Maladaptive coping and self-esteem as mediators between perfectionism and psychological distress. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 469–474.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rice, K. G., Ashby, J. S., & Slaney, R. (1998). Self-esteem as a mediator between perfectionism and depression: A structural equations analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 304–314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmitt, D. P., & Allik, J. (2005). Simultaneous administration of the Rosenberg self-esteem scale in 53 nations: exploring the universal and culture-specific features of global self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 623–642.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sedikides, C., Rudich, E. A., Gregg, A. P., Kumashiro, M., & Rusbult, C. (2004). Are normal narcissists psychologically healthy?: Self-esteem matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 400–416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 442–445.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strelan, P. (2007). The prosocial, adaptive qualities of just world beliefs: Implications for the relationship between justice and forgiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 881–890.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sun, P., & Kong, F. (2013). Affective mediators of the influence of gratitude on life satisfaction in late adolescence. Social Indicators Research,. doi:10.1007/s11205-013-0333-8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toussaint, L., & Friedman, P. (2009). Forgiveness, gratitude, and well-being: The mediating role of affect and beliefs. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 635–654.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 431–451.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890–905.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the Big Five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 443–447.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 854–871.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yarcheski, A., Mahon, N. E., & Yarcheski, T. J. (2001). Social support and well-being in early adolescents: The role of mediating variables. Clinical Nursing Research, 10, 163–181.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhao, J., Kong, F., & Wang, Y. (2012). Self-esteem and humor style as mediators of the effects of shyness on loneliness among Chinese college students. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 686–690.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhao, J., Kong, F., & Wang, Y. (2013). The role of social support and self-esteem in the relationship between shyness and loneliness. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 577–581.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zimet, G. D., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S. G., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 30–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Feng Kong or Jingjing Zhao.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kong, F., Ding, K. & Zhao, J. The Relationships Among Gratitude, Self-esteem, Social Support and Life Satisfaction Among Undergraduate Students. J Happiness Stud 16, 477–489 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9519-2

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9519-2

Keywords

  • Gratitude
  • Social support
  • Self-esteem
  • Satisfaction with life