Positive Thinking, School Adjustment and Psychological Well-being among Chinese College Students

Raymond C.F. Chui1, *, Chi-K. Chan2
1 Social Work Research and Development Centre, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong
2 Department of Counseling and Psychology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong

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© 2020 Chui and Chan.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Social Work, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, 10 Wai Tsui Crescent, Braemar Hill, Hong Kong; Tel: (852) 2570 7110; Fax: (852) 2804 8558; E-mail:



Previous studies have found that traditional positive Chinese beliefs contribute to the maintenance of the quality of life. It is interesting to explore the functions of positive thinking on stress in the Chinese context in order to test whether positive thinking influences the psychological well-being of college students.


This study aims to examine the associations between positive thinking, school adjustment, and the psychological well-being of Chinese college-going students. It investigates the moderating role of positive thinking in the effects of poor school adjustment on stress and well-being.


A cross-sectional survey was administered to 299 male and 396 female college students aged 17-28 years across eight universities of Hong Kong.


Results confirmed that school adjustment was negatively related to stress (β= -.194) and positively related to life satisfaction ( β = .074). It was also indirectly related to psychological distress via stress ( β = -.194; β = .620). Moreover, positive thinking was a moderator to the relationships between school adjustment and stress ( β = .011) and to the relationships between school adjustment and life satisfaction ( β = -.009). School adjustment was more related to stress at higher levels of positive thinking while it was more related to life satisfaction at lower levels of positive thinking.


These results suggested that enhancing positive thinking is beneficial to Chinese college-going students’ psychological well-being. Therefore, student services at universities can consider organizing workshops to educate and promote the appropriate use of positive thinking for students to alleviate their stress and enhance their psychological well-being.

Keywords: Positive thinking, School adjustment, Stress, Life satisfaction, Psychological distress, Chinese college students.