Researchers have studied individual’s pursuit of well-being through two perspectives: the eudaimonic perspective and the hedonic perspective. Peterson and his colleagues (2005) introduced their Orientations to Happiness scale, a self-report measure assessing individual’s pursuit of well-being that corresponds to these two perspectives. Specifically, the Life of Meaning subscale is the index of the eudaimonic pursuit; the Life of Pleasure subscale is the index of the hedonic pursuit. Previous research has demonstrated that orientations to happiness are positively associated with individual’s subjective well-being, whereas little research has addressed the mechanisms underlying the associations. Based on goal theory of happiness, the present study investigated how orientations to happiness were associated with subjective well-being by examining the indirect effects of the prosocial behavior and Internet addictive behavior in a sample of Chinese adolescents aged between 13 and 18 (N = 2082). The results showed that: (1) both life of meaning and life of pleasure were positively associated with adolescents’ subjective well-being; (2) prosocial behavior partially mediated the positive association between life of meaning and subjective well-being; and (3) prosocial behavior also partially mediated the positive association between life of pleasure and subjective well-being, whereas Internet addictive behavior undermined the positive association here. The findings shed light on the underlying mechanisms between orientations to happiness and subjective well-being.
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There is another subscale named the Life of Engagement in Peterson and his colleagues’ approach. It is considered as a measure of flow, which is treated distinctly from eudaimonic and hedonic perspectives (Huta and Waterman 2014). Due to our research interest and related inconsistent argument about this construct (Henderson et al. 2014), we only focused on the Life of Meaning and the Life of Pleasure.
We noticed that life of meaning was negatively correlated with Internet addictive behavior (r = − .11, p < .001), and then we tested an alternative model including Internet addictive behavior and prosocial behavior as mediators in the relationship between life of meaning and SWB. The results showed the indirect effect of Internet addictive behavior was not significant (p = .19). Therefore, we performed the model using prosocial behavior as a mediator.
We tested an alternative model of reverse direction of the mediation model (SWB as antecedent and life of meaning as outcome variable via prosocial behavior), and the results showed poor and unacceptable model fit: χ 2(36, N = 2082) = 1567.334, p < .001; CFI = .876; TLI = .820; RMSEA = .143 (90 % CI .137, .149); SRMR = .189.
We tested an alternative model of reverse direction of mediation model (SWB as antecedent and life of pleasure as outcome variable via prosocial behavior and Internet addictive behavior), and the results showed poor and unacceptable model fit: χ 2(42, N = 2082) = 1706.947, p < .001; CFI = .861; TLI = .791; RMSEA = .138 (90 % CI .132, .144); SRMR = .173.
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This research was supported by the Ministry of Education (MOE) Project of Key Research Institutes of Humanities and Social Science at Universities (10JJDXLX002), the Project of Beijing Municipal Commission of Education (PXM2014_014202_07_000067), the Beijing Well-Being Foundation (No. 00203442015-01-005), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Yang, Y., Li, P., Fu, X. et al. Orientations to Happiness and Subjective Well-Being in Chinese Adolescents: The Roles of Prosocial Behavior and Internet Addictive Behavior. J Happiness Stud 18, 1747–1762 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9794-1
- Orientations to happiness
- Subjective well-being
- Prosocial behavior
- Internet addictive behavior