Adult levels of subjective quality of life (SQOL) are remarkably stable on a population basis. This has been explained through the operation of a homeostatic system that acts to maintain each individual's SQOL within a narrow range. However, there are good reasons to expect this homeostatic system to come under severe challenge during adolescence. Many of the variables thought to be involved in the homeostatic process are undergoing marked change during this period, including the balance between primary and secondary control, perceived social support, and interaction with parents. In order to test the stability of SQOL and the influence of these other variables, a sample of 279 adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 years were recruited. It was found that the SQOL of the older adolescents lay below the predicted range for adults, thereby supporting the idea of a strong challenge to homeostasis during this period. A new scale to measure perceived control was found to possess a useful two-factor structure of primary and secondary control. Moreover, both of these factors, together with social support, predicted levels of SQOL, even though the levels of primary control decreased with age. Finally, adolescents who perceived an authoritarian parenting style experienced a higher SQOL than those who perceived an unengaged style. These findings contribute to our understanding of SQOL homeostasis.
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