A Longitudinal Study of Subjective Age in University Students: Money Matters

  • Author / Creator
    Fang, Shichen
  • This longitudinal study explored intraindividual change across four years in 190 Canadian university students’ (M age = 18.36; 60% female) subjective maturity, as indicated by their comparative subjective age (CSA; how old one feels relative to his or her chronological age). Students completed paper-and-pencil or web-based questionnaires five times across the first four years of their postsecondary education, beginning in the first month or two of their university experience. Multilevel modeling was used to investigate trajectories of CSA, and possible between-persons predictors (expecting parental financial support, parental autonomy support, whether they had left their parents’ home, financial stress) of two growth parameters (their CSA at baseline as well as rate of change over time in CSA). Financial stress was also investigated as a within-person predictor to learn whether its deviations from baseline covaried across time with CSA. Contrary to the hypothesis of a downward linear trend across four years in CSA, the rate of change was not significant. Expecting more parental financial support was linked to a younger CSA at baseline, but parental autonomy support and whether the student had left home were not related to CSA at baseline or to change over time. Financial stress was a significant time-varying covariate of CSA; at times when students reported increases in financial stress from baseline, they also reported a younger CSA compared to times when they reported decreases in financial stress. Findings suggest that financial expectations and experiences matter for university students’ subjective age, in line with a maturity gap perspective which proposes that delays in achieving adult status (e.g., financial independence) are associated with feelings of immaturity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Maroto, Michelle (Sociology)
    • Galambos, Nancy (Psychology)
    • Hoglund, Wendy (Psychology)
    • Wiebe, Sandra (Psychology)