A prototype analysis of New Zealand adolescents’ conceptualizations of wellbeing

Gazal Bharara, Scott Duncan, Aaron Jarden, Erica Hinckson


This research investigated New Zealand adolescents’ (aged 11 to 13, N = 361) perceptions of wellbeing from a prototype perspective. Specifically, three studies examined what constitutes and promotes wellbeing, whether adolescents’ perspectives are aligned with adults’ conceptualizations and academic models of wellbeing, whether socioeconomic status influences adolescents’ conceptualization, and whether wellbeing is prototypically organized. Results showed that wellbeing is prototypically organized as some components are more central to the concept of wellbeing and others more peripheral. Contrary to lay adults’ conceptualizations and popular wellbeing models, adolescents consider enjoyment/having fun, feeling safe, and being kind/helpful as central components of wellbeing, and sense of satisfaction as a peripheral component of wellbeing. Furthermore, low socio-economic status adolescents consider comfort/being wealthy, being focused, good physical health, good values, and success/achievements as more central for wellbeing than high-socioeconomic status adolescents. Consistent with the current literature, positive family relationships, positive friendships, and physical activity/sport were the most frequently reported pathways to wellbeing among adolescents. Overall, researchers and practitioners should consider adolescents’ understanding of wellbeing in the development of wellbeing assessments and interventions.


adolescents, prototype analysis, wellbeing, well-being, perspectives, components

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v9i4.975


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