Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kathy L. Bradley-Klug

Keywords

Health-related behaviors, Life satisfaction, Moderating, Positive psychology, Youth

Abstract

This study investigated the specific health-promoting behaviors employed by early adolescents (n = 246) and their subjective well-being (SWB) to provide an understanding of how mental and physical wellness relate in teens. Participants self-reported on their dietary habits, physical activity, sleep hygiene, safety habits, and attitudes toward substance use. A comprehensive assessment of SWB was also gathered (i.e., global life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect). The researcher hypothesized that each of the five health-promoting behaviors assessed in the current study would have significant, positive correlations with the SWB of early adolescents, in that youth who reported higher levels of engagement in these healthy behaviors also would report higher levels of happiness. Furthermore, demographic characteristics of gender, race, and socioeconomic status were hypothesized to play a moderating role in the relationship between health promotion and happiness. Findings demonstrated that two health-promoting behaviors were significantly correlated with SWB in the current study. Increased amount of sleep per night was linked to higher SWB, while attitudes toward substance use were negatively correlated with youth's SWB. A significant percentage of the variance in SWB (15%) was accounted for by the linear combination of health-promoting behaviors, although only one of the five health promoting behaviors (i.e., attitudes toward substance use) was a unique predictor of SWB. In addition, none of the interaction terms of gender, race, and SES with health-promoting behaviors were significant predictors of SWB, indicating that moderating effects were not found for this sample. Implications for further investigation of these findings include the use of other methods for reporting health-promoting behaviors in early adolescents as well as replication of moderating effects with a more ethnically diverse sample of youth. Findings call for integration of health promotion programming into school psychology practice from a prevention to targeted level of service delivery with youth.

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