HK students are less hopeful and happy as they get older, new study shows

Research surveyed over one thousand primary and secondary students about hope and happiness

Jamie Lam |

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The results of the research show that students are less hopeful and happy as they get older.

A study jointly organised by the Character Education Foundation (CEF) and the Centre for Religious and Spirituality Education at the Education University of Hong Kong shows that as students get older, they report feeling less hopeful and less happy.

The research team gathered questionnaires from 361 primary students and 1,054 secondary students with questions that targeted their hopefulness and happiness. Their answers were aggregated into a final hopefulness score out of six, and a final happiness score out of seven.

The average hopefulness score for all respondents was 3.87 out of six, while the average happiness score was 4.45 out of seven.

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However the most discouraging trend was that as students get older, their degree of hopefulness and happiness tend to go down. Primary Four students (the youngest age group surveyed) reported a hopefulness score of 4.55, compared to 3.68 for Secondary Five students (the oldest group).

The same trend was seen for happiness, with Primary Four student reporting an average score of 5.31, compared to 4.13 for Secondary Five students.

Character Day is a campaign that aims to promote one good character trait for all Hongkongers each year.
Photo: Character Education Foundation

The only group to buck the downward trend are the Secondary Two students, who report being happier and more hopeful that the age groups on either side of their form.

Professor John Lee, the Director of the Centre said the reason for the downward trend could be due to different reasons. “The transition in identity from a primary student to a secondary student, more pressure from parents, and more responsibilities could be some of the reasons students feel less happy and hopeful,” he said.

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“Don’t compare yourself to others," Lee suggested when asked how students can learn to be more optimistic. Instead, compare yourself to the you from the past. Did you improve? That’s who you should be gauging yourself against.”

The results from the survey helped decide the theme of Character Day Hong Kong 2018: "hope". Character Day is a campaign that aims to promote one good character trait for all Hongkongers each year. Previous campaigns focused on “Gratitude” and “Kindness”. Character Day Hong Kong 2018 will be held on September 26, 2018 and will include a variety of activities to promote good character development.