Validation of the students’ life satisfaction scale among a sample of children in south africa: multi-group analysis across three language groups
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While research into children’s subjective well-being (SWB) has advanced over the past decade, there is a paucity of cross-cultural research, particularly in South Africa. Moreover, while the adaptation and validation of instruments in English and Afrikaans are evident, other language groups have not received much attention. This study aimed to provide structural validation of the Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale across a sample of children in South Africa using multi-group analysis across three language groups (Setswana, Xitsonga, and Tshivenda). Within this process, the study aimed to use multi-group confirmatory factor analysis (MGCFA) to compare the structural validity and measurement invariance of the three language groups. Finally, the study aimed to determine the convergent validity of the three language groups of the SLSS by regressing them onto the single-item Overall Life Satisfaction Scale (OLS). The study uses data from Wave 3 of the South African Children’s Worlds Study and included a sample of 625 children across the language groups (Setswana: n = 187; Sesotho: n = 170; and Tshivenda: n = 268). For the overall pooled sample an excellent fit was obtained for a single-factor model, including one error-covariance. Standardised regression weights of the items ranged between .43 and .73. MGCFA revealed an acceptable fit for the configural model (unconstrained loadings); however, metric (constrained loadings) and scalar invariance (constrained loadings and intercepts) was not tenable. However, through the application of partial constraints metric invariance was tenable when Item 5 (I like my life) was freely estimated, while scalar invariance was tenable when Item 1 (I enjoy my life) and Item 5 (I like my life) were freely estimated. The results suggest that the Items: My life is going well; I have a good life; The things in my life are excellent; and I am happy with my life, are comparable by correlations, regression coefficients, and latent mean scores across the three language groups. Convergent validity using the OLS was obtained for the pooled sample and across the language groups. The key contribution of the study is establishing that the Setswana, Sesotho, and Tshivenda translated and adapted versions of the SLSS are valid for use within the South African context to measure children’s SWB, and that they can be grouped together in an overall pooled sample.