Life Satisfaction in Early Adolescence: Personal, Neighborhood, School, Family, and Peer Influences
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- Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K.A. & Zumbo, B.D. J Youth Adolescence (2011) 40: 889. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9599-1
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Drawing from an ecological assets framework as well as research and theory on positive youth development, this study examined the relationship of early adolescents’ satisfaction with life to trait optimism and assets representing the social contexts in which early adolescents spend most of their time. Self-reports of satisfaction with life, optimism, and ecological assets in the school (school connectedness), neighborhood (perceived neighborhood support), family (perceived parental support), and peer group (positive peer relationships) were assessed in a sample of 1,402 4th to 7th graders (47% female) from 25 public elementary schools. Multilevel modeling (MLM) was conducted to analyze the variability in life satisfaction both at the individual and the school level. As hypothesized, adding optimism and the dimensions representing the ecology of early adolescence to the model significantly reduced the variability in life satisfaction at both levels of analysis. Both personal (optimism) and all of the ecological assets significantly and positively predicted early adolescents’ life satisfaction. The results suggest the theoretical and practical utility of an assets approach for understanding life satisfaction in early adolescence.