Big picture: Leading the positive life

DOWNLOAD PDF FOR POSTER: Marcus Richards and Felicia Huppert with evidence from a longitudinal birth cohort study. E-mail ‘Big picture’ ideas to j[email protected]
While we know a great deal about the continuity between childhood mental health problems and outcomes in adulthood, we know very little about the continuity between childhood well-being or positive mental health and outcomes in adult life. Troubled children are likely to become troubled adults but how likely are happy, well-adjusted children to flourish in adulthood? 

To investigate, Marcus Richards (MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing) and Felicia Huppert (Well-being Institute, University of Cambridge) analysed data from the British 1946 birth cohort study. Positive childhood behaviour (rated by school teachers at 13 and 15) was associated with a low probability of lifetime emotional problems, satisfaction with work, high contact with friends or family and engagement in social activities.

Writing in the Journal of Positive Psychology last year, the authors said: ‘childhood well-being predicts positive adult well-being, and not merely the absence of mental ill-health’.

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