The Structure of Adolescent and Adult Savoring and Its Relationship to Feeling Good and Functioning Well
I sought to contribute to the understanding of positive health, in particular savoring and wellbeing, by conducting concurrent and longitudinal studies with adolescents and adults. The thesis begins with a review of the literature including savoring theory (Bryant & Veroff, 2007) and the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2001); these theories led to the key expectations that the psychometric structure of everyday savoring would be similar for adolescents and adults, and that amplifying savoring would positively predict wellbeing. Data obtained from two surveys, a paper-and-pencil survey with New Zealand adolescents (13 to 15 years old) and an internet-based survey with international adults (16 to 88 years old), were investigated in four studies across four empirical chapters (Chapters 2 through 5). Study 1 (Chapter 2) explored the similarities and differences in the psychometric structure of an abridged Ways of Savoring Checklist, labelled everyday savoring, between adolescents (N = 463) and adults (N = 980), as well as mean group differences in adolescents' and adults' degree of savoring. Study 2 (Chapter 3) investigated the concurrent relationships between adolescent and adult everyday savoring and hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing as well as the ability of savoring to moderate wellbeing. Then, Study 3 and Study 4 investigated the relationships between savoring and wellbeing across time for adolescents (N = 265; Study 3, Chapter 4) and adults (N = 1858; Study 4, Chapter 5), including savoring as a mediator of the relationship between everyday positive events and wellbeing (Chapter 4), and orientations to happiness as a moderator of savoring and everyday positive events (Chapter 5). Results indicated that adolescents and adults yielded a similar four-factor structure of everyday savoring: dampening ("I don‘t deserve it"), low arousal ("I tried to slow down"), high arousal ("I jumped up and down"), and self-focus ("I reminded myself how lucky I was") savoring strategies, which proved to be invariant across time. The adolescent group, however, manifested a stronger association between amplifying (i.e. low arousal, high arousal, and self-focused savoring) and dampening savoring. Adolescents also reported higher levels of dampening compared to the adult group, whereas adults reported higher amplifying than adolescents. As expected, high arousal and self-focused savoring were positively, and dampening was negatively, associated with wellbeing indicators for adolescents and adults. However, low arousal savoring was negatively associated with hedonia for adolescents, but positively associated with eudaimonia for adults. The longitudinal analyses indicated that amplifying savoring predicted increases in wellbeing whereas dampening savoring predicted decreases in wellbeing for both age groups. The direction of effect, however, was not always as expected, questioning general assumptions of savoring theory and the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. These exceptions are most noted and explored in the final empirical chapter, Chapter 5. Overall the findings suggest that savoring is similar and similarly important for wellbeing over the age range incorporating adolescence to adulthood, although potential developmental differences are important to consider. The contribution of this thesis to the study of savoring, the field of positive psychology, and positive health development are reviewed in Chapter 6, as are the implications, limitations, and future directions.