Exploring Psychological Well-Being and Positive Emotions in School Children Using a Narrative Approach

DOI: 10.1080/20797222.2017.1299287
Author(s): Chiara RuiniAssociate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology, Italy, Francesca VescovelliClinical Psychologist & PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology, Italy, Veronica CarpiClinical Psychologist, Italy, Licia MasoniJunior Assistant Professor, Department of Education Studies, Italy


While a large body of research has provided quantitative data on children’s levels of happiness, positive emotions and life satisfaction, the literature reflects a dearth of studies that analyze these dimensions from a narrative and qualitative point of view. Folk and fairy tales may serve as ideal tools for this purpose, since they are concerned with several concepts scientifically investigated by research in the field of positive psychology, such as resilience, self-realization, personal growth and meaning in life. The aim of the present study was to explore children’s well-being and positive emotions using an innovative narrative approach, which involved interviews and group discussions, as well as the analysis of fairy tales written and discussed in a group context. The sample included 95 school children who were asked to report and discuss in a group setting situations or experiences which triggered positive emotions and happiness in them. Guided by their teachers and a school psychologist, they were then asked to write their own original fairy tale drawing on the positive emotions that had previously emerged. Positive emotions were found to be triggered mainly by interpersonal relationships with peers as well as with family members. Hobbies and leisure time were also strongly associated with happiness and hedonic well-being, while personal fulfilment, self-esteem and goal achievement emerged as highly significant for children. In sum, the findings suggest that this school psycho-educative intervention based on narrative strategies provided useful information on children’s well-being and yielded positive feedback, the implications and possible further applications of which are discussed.

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