Preliminary Development and Validation of the Social and Emotional Health Survey for Secondary School Students

Furlong, Michael; You, Sukkyung; Renshaw, Tyler; Smith, Douglas; O'Malley, Meagan
July 2014
Social Indicators Research;Jul2014, Vol. 117 Issue 3, p1011
Academic Journal
This study reports on the preliminary development and validation of the Social and Emotional Health Survey (SEHS) with a sample of 4,189 (51 % female) California students in Grades 8, 10, and 12. The SEHS was designed to measure the psychological building blocks of adolescents' positive mental health and is operationalized in the present study by a theoretical model comprised of 12 measured indicators that form four first-order domains (belief-in-self, belief-in-others, emotional competence, and engaged living) that, in turn, contribute to one underlying, second-order meta-construct called covitality. This study was the first to investigate the validity and utility of the adolescent covitality construct, which is conceptualized as the synergistic effect of positive mental health resulting from the interplay among multiple positive-psychological building blocks. Findings from confirmatory factor analyses, invariance analysis, and latent means testing all supported the theoretical model underlying the SEHS, indicating that the second-order covitality model was the best fit for both males and females. Results from a path-modeling analysis indicated that covitality was a strong predictor of students' subjective well-being (operationalized as a composite of life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect), and findings from additional concurrent validity analyses indicated that adolescents' covitality level was significantly associated with self-reported academic achievement, perceptions of school safety, substance use, and experiences of depressive symptoms. Implications for theory, practice, and future research are discussed.


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