Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo


adolescent, positive psychology, psychopathology, social functioning, subjective well-being


A dual-factor model of psychological functioning examines the presence of wellness (i.e., subjective well-being; SWB) and psychopathology (i.e., internalizing and externalizing behavior problems) in explaining youth mental health functioning. Using a dual-factor model, previous research has yielded four unique groups of elementary and middle school youth as well as college-age adults with distinct levels of wellness and psychopathology. The present empirical investigation included valid data from 500 adolescents from two high schools (grades 9 to 11). This exploratory study produced four groups of students with unique mental health profiles aligned with previous studies investigating the dual-factor model. Tukey-Kramer comparisons determined that among groups classified as having elevated symptoms of psychopathology, those that also report high levels of SWB (i.e., symptomatic but content youth) are more likely to be rated as having externalizing problems, and those with low levels of SWB (i.e., troubled youth) are more likely to report symptoms of internalizing problems. Evaluation of group differences on positive mental health indicators suggest that differences between groups with elevated SWB versus low SWB were due to differences in life satisfaction and negative affect. Tukey-Kramer comparisons indicated that youth with complete mental health reported optimal functioning in terms SWB. Youth identified as having low levels of SWB, appeared to report similarly low levels of life satisfaction and positive affect, but those that also reported elevated levels of psychopathology, particularly internalizing problems, had greater levels of negative affect. Additional findings from this study demonstrate the utility of classifying high school students' mental health according to a dual-factor model. Results of a MANCOVA suggest a significant effect for mental health group membership as yielded from a dual-factor model on students' social-functioning. Follow up ANCOVAs and Tukey-Kramer comparisons suggest that high SWB in tandem with low levels of psychopathology (i.e., complete mental health) is associated with a host of optimal functioning in terms of teacher-rated social skills, perceptions of interpersonal relationships, receipt of social support, reduced likelihood of victimization, and high quality romantic experiences. For youth with psychopathology, average to high levels of SWB (i.e., as in symptomatic but content students), may buffer them from experiencing poor social functioning, particularly in terms of perceived social support, peer victimization, general interpersonal relations, and satisfaction with romantic experiences. Overall results from this study support the presence of dual-factor model in high school students and the importance of assessment of positive and negative indicators in order to effectively gain a comprehensive understanding of adolescents' social functioning.