The Role of Perceived Stress and Self-Efficacy in Young People’s Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study
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Life satisfaction is an important indicator of successful development. However, adolescents’ life satisfaction tends to be relatively unsteady, and environmental influences play a critical role in shaping life satisfaction among adolescents in the transition to young adulthood. Given the paramount importance that education plays in adolescents’ lives, adolescents’ life satisfaction may vary as a function of school-related stress experience. At the same time, coping resources may help reduce adverse effects of stress on life satisfaction. With this in mind, we examined whether, and to what extent, perceived stress in education and general self-efficacy (a resource that facilitates coping) affect the life satisfaction of adolescents in transition to young adulthood. We distinguished between baseline levels of stress and self-efficacy and within-person change in stress and self-efficacy to determine whether life satisfaction is sensitive to fluctuations in stress and self-efficacy when person-specific levels of stress and self-efficacy are taken into account. Estimating growth curve models on data from a panel study on the life trajectories of compulsory-school leavers (n = 5126, 55.3 % female), we found that baseline levels of stress and self-efficacy, as well as within-person change in stress and self-efficacy, affected adolescents’ life satisfaction. Moreover, our results showed that baseline self-efficacy mitigated the negative effect of baseline stress on life satisfaction. These findings improve our understanding of two major psychological determinants of adolescents’ life satisfaction and extend our knowledge of life satisfaction trajectories during the transition to young adulthood.
KeywordsLife satisfaction Perceived stress Self-efficacy Education Multilevel Longitudinal
The research drew on data collected by the Transition from Education to Employment project (TREE). The Swiss youth panel study TREE has been running since 2000 and has since been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the University of Basel, the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics, the Federal Office of Professional Education and Technology, and the cantons of Berne, Geneva and Ticino.
Both authors would like to thank Anita C. Keller and Karoline Lohse for comments on previous versions of this manuscript and Samuel Ian Quigg for proofreading the manuscript.
This research received no grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
KB conceived of the study, guided the data analysis and interpretation, and coordinated and drafted the manuscript. RS participated in and extended the data analysis and interpretation and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All data analyses in the present study were performed on anonymous and secondary data. All procedures performed in the original study, which involved human participants, were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutions involved in data collection.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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