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Exploring Adolescent Happiness
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Exploring Adolescent Happiness
Commitment, Purpose, and Fulfillment


June 1998 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
"This book is bound to be significant not only for theoreticians and researchers in adolescence, but for a wide range of practitioners; and, I am convinced for social philosophers as well. Rejecting the widespread view of adolescents as an alienated subculture, Dr.Zipora Magen effectively challenges this by demonstrating that adolescents have a great capacity and concern for reaching beyond the self. Further, her data are persuasive in showing that this optimistic insight transcends culture and is thus a very meaningful contribution to cross-cultural studies. Thoroughly grounded in philosophical analysis of the construct of happiness, this book easily moves from an elegant philosophical study to detailing the methodological issues in this type of research. Beautifully written, thoughtfully argued, bolstered by a most impressive review and synthesis of relevant literature, it is qualitative research at its best. Dr. Magen's own body of research is well-integrated into this synthesis, but she propounds her thesis without dogmatism; instead, with an affirmation of humanistic values. One of the most enriching features of the book is the extensive selection of adolescent responses. Finally, Dr.Zipora Magen reaches beyond the theory and research to offer positive suggestions for applying her insights to the enhancement of adolescents' lives. The several themes and strands in this unusual book are woven into an organically unified volume that is scholarly and practical, philosophical and empirical, provocative and persuasive: altogether a fine achievement." -Martin Hamburger, Professor Emeritus, New York University & Adjunct Professor, Florida International University "Studies on adolescents and adolescence often show adolescent discontent and hardships as characteristic of the stage of adolescence in human life. Such studies often indicate that adolescents are guided primarily by selfish interests. The present volume by Zipora Magen provides impressive evidence of the fact that there is much room for happiness in adolescent life and that the daily actions of young people are often guided by commitment to the other." -Mordecali Arieli, Tel-Aviv University "Exploring Adolescent Happiness is a refreshing, original, highly readable volume with several truly distinctive features. First is its resolute focus on positive outcomes in adolescence, i.e., on how things go right—as opposed to past traditional emphasis on things that go wrong and how to fix them. Based on more than a decade of research, reflecting an unusual and very effective blend of tender humanistic, and tough-minded forms of scientific inquiry, it documents the central role that altruistic commitment plays in the emergence of adaptive adolescent outcomes. The volume's solid rooting in cross-cultural study sheds light on forces that uniformly favor happiness in adolescence across a variety of cultural contexts. Zipora Magen's emphasis on the practical applications that stem from her research will be of great interest and value to educators and helping professionals. Indeed, Exploring Adolescent Happiness is must reading for all those committed to the optimization of adolescent development." -Emory Cowen, Primary Mental Health Project "Zipora Magen comes through as a genuine human being with a dual allegiance to existential psychology and to empirical science. Her blend of these two disciplines yields this delightful volume that contributes significantly to each of these foci, while it represents a quantum leap to the synthesis of the two. The operationalization of happiness takes the reader on a colorful tour de force of theory and psychometrics. Her analysis of adolescence through the prism of selflessness is refreshing. Professor Magen juxtaposes, with ease, technical presentations and qualitative narratives that 'hooks' and beguiles the reader to join the flow of the text as it samples and synthesizes data and ideas. The author's true colors are shown, however, in her implicit beliefs throughout in the ultimate universal spirituality of mankind and an emphatic anti-racist orientation. Her section on reflections mirror her devotion to the betterment of humankind as an applied psychologist and human philosopher. Dr. Magen manages to harness statistics and measurement methodology toward the service of the transcendental elaboration of altruism. This book will surely become the foundation of empirical existential studies that have been waiting for a solid anchor in the psychological literature." -Samuel Juni, School of Education, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University "Zipora Magen has given us the voices of adolescents from three cultures. Written in the cool, logical, linear language of science that is appropriate to empirical research gathered over a decade, this book nevertheless manages to capture the joy and idealism of its subjects. Magen lets us know what happiness is (and isn't), how to measure it, how it relates to other positive constructs in theory and research, and how to use her findings to design and implement interventions for hard-to-reach youth. In addition, Magen's review of the theoretical and empirical literature on adolescent processes is wide-ranging, integrating psychodynamic, existential and humanistic perspectives with developmental and personality theory. She also argues power fully for the simultaneous use of quantitative and qualitative methods. In short, this is a must read for anyone who does research on adolescence or who works with these interesting challenging young people. Magen is a loving observer who respects her subjects." -Patricia Raskin, Department of Counseling Psychology, Columbia University "Zipora Magen provides us with a new understanding of what it means to be an adolescent. She builds on a solid understanding of research and theory and leads us to a new level for theory, research, and practice. Adolescent development cannot be understood without reference to this pathfinding and outstanding book." -Allen E. Ivey, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst What makes adolescents happy? What sources of joy and happiness generate emotional excitement, illumination, and a sense of good feeling? What must adolescents live up to? In Exploring Adolescent Happiness, author Zipora Magen examines these major questions through the lens of the adolescent. This new volume makes an original contribution to the fields of psychology and education by systematically examining adolescent happiness and commitment. A decade of extensive studies with various groups of over 200 adolescents explored the relationship among happiness, positive experiences, and commitment as perceived by adolescents and as mediated by diverse social and cultural factors and personality attributes. Against the background of the prominent literature describing the very distressing issues facing professionals and parents involved with adolescents today worldwide, this book accentuates young people's potentials, natural yearnings for self-fulfillment, and healthy tendencies toward well-being rather than maladjustment and pathology. Advancing the means to fill a gap in the literature, Exploring Adolescent Happiness should be of special interest to adolescent counselors and therapists in clinical and counseling psychology, social work, and family studies and will serve as a tribute to those who seek to commit themselves "beyond self."

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