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Emerging Adults Versus Middle-Aged Adults: Do they Differ in Psychological Needs, Self-Esteem and Life Satisfaction

Abstract

Exploring determinants of human happiness has been increasingly prevalent in studies over the last few decades. Aim of this study was primarily to explore age differences in life satisfaction in Croatian adults ranging in age from early 20s to 40s. Additionally, we aimed to predict life satisfaction based on gender, basic psychological needs satisfaction, and self-esteem. Data was collected on 393 participants (54.6% female, Mage = 31.23) from two planned subsamples, emerging adults (N = 206, 53.2% female, Mage = 23.29) and middle-aged adults (N = 187, 56.1% female, Mage = 39.97). Participants completed Basic Psychological Needs Scale, Self-esteem scale, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. Results were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Significant latent means differences were found for autonomy and relatedness, with middle-aged adults scoring 0.27 and 0.26 units lower than emerging adults. As for life satisfaction prediction, results showed that women, people with higher self-esteem, and people with higher psychological need satisfaction had higher life satisfaction. Findings also suggested that psychological need satisfaction and self-esteem are equally important predictors of life satisfaction at different stages of life. These results suggest that increasing the satisfaction of basic psychological needs and self-esteem could serve as a possible intervention path to desirable changes in person’s life satisfaction.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. In particular, these participants had missing data on all items of the RSES. The choice of listwise deletion missing data technique was based on the recent recommendations on missing data treatment, which acknowledge that in cases where the proportion of missing data is extremely low, such as ours, listwise deletion technique performs as good as other more sophisticated techniques (e.g., full information maximum likelihood technique) (e.g., Newman, 2014).

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Table 4 Correlations among exogenous variables from Fig. 1. (corresponding to the model with constrained factor loadings and measurement errors and unconstrained structural paths). Above the diagonal are values obtained on the sample of emerging adults, and below the diagonal values obtained on the middle-aged adults

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Butkovic, A., Tomas, J., Spanic, A.M. et al. Emerging Adults Versus Middle-Aged Adults: Do they Differ in Psychological Needs, Self-Esteem and Life Satisfaction. J Happiness Stud 21, 779–798 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00106-w

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Keywords

  • Life-satisfaction
  • Psychological needs
  • Self-esteem
  • Gender
  • Age differences