Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Dissertation (UNI Access Only)


College students--Middle West--Attitudes; Well-being--Age factors--Middle West; Happiness--Middle West--Public opinion;


The purpose of this study was to explore college youth perspectives of wellbeing and happiness and gain insight into whether or not their perceptions and definitions of the two constructs are reflective of existing traditional academic definitions. Specifically, this study examined to what extent college youth perceive overlap between the two constructs and what similarities/differences might exist in their definitions of wellbeing and happiness, in relation to existing definitions. As one generation views wellbeing and happiness, another generation may have a different perspective. Hence, youth perspectives are a vital consideration in any discussion of wellbeing and happiness.

Definitions and perceptions of wellbeing and happiness continue to change and evolve. Generally, the terms wellbeing and happiness are inter-connected with each other and defined inter-changeably. When not used interchangeably, happiness is often identified as an element of wellbeing and reflection of life satisfaction. Researchers (Diener, 1984; Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013; Shin 2015), observe that wellbeing and happiness can be perceived as a positive life construct, which reflects positive affect, life satisfaction, and the absence of negative affect. Although there is no universal consensus on definitions of wellbeing and happiness, the literature provides a general framework for defining these terms. What seems to be lacking in current research investigations is a comparison of youth definitions and perspectives of wellbeing and happiness in relation to existing traditional definitions and concepts.

Gall, Gall and Borg (1996), acknowledge that neither a qualitative nor a quantitative approach provides a greater truth than the other does. Consequently, this study embraced a descriptive, non-experimental, mixed methods approach, comprising both qualitative and quantitative approach to data collection and analysis. In order to obtain a stratum of youth perspectives and definitions of wellbeing and happiness, the principal investigator targeted a cross section of youth enrolled in various colleges across campus at a small Midwestern university. A representative sample of 411 participants were surveyed. The recruitment was opened to all students present in classes on the day of distribution. Results indicated that youth perceive a relationship between wellbeing and happiness and that their definitions of the two constructs are reflective of traditional academic definitions, to varying degrees.

A sample t-test and condensed wellbeing and happiness questionnaire (Bradley & Lewis, 1990; Hills & Argyle, 2002; Riazi, Bradley, Barendse & Ishii, 2006; Shrestha, Creighton-Smith, Flack & Jn Baptiste, 2016) were used to score and compare college youth perceptions of their wellbeing and happiness. College youth scores for each variable (wellbeing and happiness), as well as the aggregated score of both constructs, were reported, with only a small percentage of the participants reporting scores lower than the mid-point of the total possible score for each variable. This signified that both wellbeing and happiness scores were statistically significant among college youth. Additionally, correlations were computed based on the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient to examine whether college youth perceive any relationship between the two constructs, wellbeing and happiness. Based on results, wellbeing and happiness were positively and strongly associated.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Kinesiology, Allied Health, and Human Services

First Advisor

Christopher R. Edginton, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xii, 167 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download