Although literature on happiness has focused largely on adults and adolescents, research interest on subjective well-being in children has increasingly grown in recent years. We investigated the contributions of the self-esteem, loneliness, and friendship variables to children’s happiness after taking into account the moderating effects of gender and age. The children responded to questionnaires evaluating their happiness, friendship variables, social self-efficacy, loneliness, and self-esteem whereas the parents reported the children’s behavioral problems and prosocial behavior. The participants were 1363 Italian children aged 7–14 (Mage = 11.12; 52% females) and at least one of their parents (74% mothers). A hierarchical multiple regression showed that higher scores of happiness were associated with younger age, higher socioeconomic status, having a mutual friend, lower levels of loneliness, and higher levels of selfesteem. We found two-way interactions between age and loneliness and between gender and social self-efficacy; simple slope analyses indicated that older children and females scored lower on happiness, compared to younger children and males, when they felt lonely or when they reported low social self-efficacy, respectively. The threeway interactions among age, gender, and self-esteem and among age, gender, and prosocial behavior suggested that older female children with lower self-esteem or those with lower levels of prosocial behavior were less happy than younger females and males were. These results point to the necessity of social policies and school programs that take gender and age differences into account to increase the knowledge of happiness in children. We discuss the research implications and limitations.

The Contributions of Self-Esteem, Loneliness, and Friendship to Children’s Happiness: The Roles of Gender and Age

Fontanesi L.;
2019

Abstract

Although literature on happiness has focused largely on adults and adolescents, research interest on subjective well-being in children has increasingly grown in recent years. We investigated the contributions of the self-esteem, loneliness, and friendship variables to children’s happiness after taking into account the moderating effects of gender and age. The children responded to questionnaires evaluating their happiness, friendship variables, social self-efficacy, loneliness, and self-esteem whereas the parents reported the children’s behavioral problems and prosocial behavior. The participants were 1363 Italian children aged 7–14 (Mage = 11.12; 52% females) and at least one of their parents (74% mothers). A hierarchical multiple regression showed that higher scores of happiness were associated with younger age, higher socioeconomic status, having a mutual friend, lower levels of loneliness, and higher levels of selfesteem. We found two-way interactions between age and loneliness and between gender and social self-efficacy; simple slope analyses indicated that older children and females scored lower on happiness, compared to younger children and males, when they felt lonely or when they reported low social self-efficacy, respectively. The threeway interactions among age, gender, and self-esteem and among age, gender, and prosocial behavior suggested that older female children with lower self-esteem or those with lower levels of prosocial behavior were less happy than younger females and males were. These results point to the necessity of social policies and school programs that take gender and age differences into account to increase the knowledge of happiness in children. We discuss the research implications and limitations.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/709938
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