Subjective Wellbeing of Children.

This news bulletin is by a researcher who specializes in SWB of Children. The news is generated from on going research into this interesting and still unexplored area.

Frequent readers of Quazen will have gathered that my area of research is the subjective wellbeing of preschool children. Therefore, my focus, today on two research papers from the United States should not be a surprise.

Many religious figures and motivational speakers often talk about being grateful. In fact many books have been published and sold, telling us to be grateful. The essential message of these volumes is that a life orientated around gratefulness is the panacea for insatiable yearnings and life’s ills. Grateful responses to life we are told, can lead to peace of mind, happiness, physical health, and deeper, more satisfying person relationships. My feeling is that many of us believe this to be the case, but in all honesty, I must say that this had not been tested until now.

Picture 1. Children: What words cannot describe

The first piece of breaking news is by two prominent scientists, Michael E. McCullough and Robert A Emmons of the University of Miami and the University of California respectively. They essentially set out to proof or disproof the role of gratefulness plays in subjective wellbeing. They compared the effects of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical wellbeing. A total of three comparative studies were done. In the first two studies, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison), they then kept weekly (study1) or daily (study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In the 3rd. study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or the control condition. Results showed that the gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to t he comparison groups. The results confirmed that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits. Well done guys, you’ve validated what many of our grand- parents have been telling us for many years (McCullough, 2003 #553).

One word of caution is in order, because the word “gratitude “has not been classified of defined. However, it has generally been conceptualized as an emotion, and attitude, a moral virtue, a habit, a personality trait, or a coping response. It is derived from the Latin word “gratia” which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness.

The other research is also around my specialized area of wellbeing. This research was conducted by Deakin University ’s researcher M. T. Davern. She is from the School of Social Psychology of the Faculty of Health and Behavioral Sciences; she investigated the affective component of Subjective wellbeing (SWB) according to the Circumplex model of affect. She used Structural equation modeling and demonstrated that affect is the dominant component of SWB and she concluded the core affect is the central component of SWB, and the driving force behind SWB homeostasis (Davern, 2004 #554).

In terms of application this research proves the facts that if children are supported encouraged and nurtured then their SWB is better than those children who do not have the benefit of a nurturing environment. Further, that SWB is a precursor of SWB homeostasis. So if we want out children to do well we need to nurture them …..

I will report on more research as it becomes available. Good bye for now!


McCullough, M. E. and R. A. Emmons (2003). "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-being in Daily Life." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (2): 377-389.

Davern, M. T. (2004). Subjective wellbeing as affective construct. School of Psychology of the Faculty of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Victoria, Deakin: 227.

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