Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Subjective social class (SSC) and subjective well-being (SWB) are important indicators of mental health, and the scientific literature has indicated significant relationships between these variables. The purpose of this study is to examine the complex mechanisms by which SSC is related to SWB, using a sample of 275 college students. This study first explored whether SSC was indirectly related to SWB through the mediating effect of self-esteem. Three elements of SSC (economic resources, social power, and social prestige) and three elements of SWB (satisfaction with life, negative affect, and positive affect) were investigated. Using process analysis, the results showed that social power and social prestige had significant indirect effects on satisfaction with life and negative affect through self-esteem, supporting self-esteem’s full to partial mediation of the relationships between some elements of SSC and SWB. This study also examined if the indirect effects of social power and social prestige on satisfaction with life and negative affect were moderated by critical consciousness by buffering the negative effects of low SSC on self-esteem. Conditional process analyses revealed no significant results. Additionally, in contrast to expectations, the findings may suggest an inverse moderating effect, such that high critical consciousness increased the size of the indirect effect of SSC on SWB. However, this result was not statistically significant but is only speculative. Implications for theory, and clinical practice in working with college students, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.