Dual Factor Model: Comparative Impact of Eudaimonic vs. Subjective Well-Being on College GPA



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Background: Retention of college students is a major national problem, with substantial implications for student debt and lifetime earnings. College GPA is one of the best predictors of retention. Examining the relationship between mental health and college GPA can guide prevention and intervention efforts to maximize retention. Purpose: This study is designed to compare the differences in predicting college student GPA using two types of well-being (i.e., subjective vs eudaimonic) and two types of symptoms (i.e., anxiety, and depression) within the framework of the Dual Factor Model (DFM) of mental health. The hypotheses were: Continuous and categorical variables of Subjective Well-being (SWB) and eudaimonic well-being (EWB) will predict GPA above and beyond depression and anxiety, when gender, age, race/ethnicity, and stress are controlled; DFM categories formed by joint considerations of well-being and symptoms will predict GPA better than continuous variables; the models with EWB will have better predictive power in comparison to models with SWB. Methods: The study is a cross-sectional correlational investigation using self-reported symptoms and well-being to predict GPA. Data were collected from 160 college students recruited from a large Southern University. The ethnicity of the students was diverse: Caucasian 20 %, African American 13.8 %, Asian 25.6 %, Hispanic/Latino 35.6 %, and 5 % Other. The predictor variables were self-report of demographic variables; stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms measured by Depression Anxiety Stress Scale; SWB and EWB measured by Pemberton Happiness Index. The outcome variable was official GPA records. Several regression analyses were performed with comparisons of R2 change across two symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depression), two types of well-being (i.e., subjective and eudaimonic), and type of variable (continuous and DFM categories). Results: Hypotheses testing yielded no significant results; therefore, all the hypotheses were rejected. However, the results of the post-hoc analyses investigating the effect of race/ethnicity found that SWB of Hispanic/Latino students predicted their GPA significantly. Another unexpected finding was that Asian-American students were found to be significantly less happy and more depressed when compared to other groups. Conclusion: For this diverse sample, SWB and EWB measured by PHI were not found to be predicting GPA. The results indicated the contribution of SWB, but not EWB in predicting GPA for only Hispanic/Latino students. Consequently, DFM of mental health did not present itself as a more informative assessment methodology. Given the differential results across ethnicity with respect to SWB, developing culturally responsive well-being promotion interventions is implicated. Retention efforts should include well-being promotion, especially for Hispanic serving higher education institutions.



Dual Factor Model, Subjective well-being, Eudaimonic well-being, College GPA, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American college students