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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing; 2013 Mar 20.

Cover of OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being

OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being.

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ANNEX AIllustrative examples of subjective well-being measures

Example evaluative measures

i)

The “Cantril Ladder”, or “Cantril's Ladder of Life Scale”, as adopted in the Gallup World Poll (Bjørnskov, 2010):

  • Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to ten at the top. Suppose we say that the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you.
  • If the top step is 10 and the bottom step is 0, on which step of the ladder do you feel you personally stand at the present time?
ii)

An overall life satisfaction question, as adopted in the World Values Survey (Bjørnskov, 2010):

  • All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days? Using this card on which 1 means you are “completely dissatisfied” and 10 means you are “completely satisfied” where would you put your satisfaction with life as a whole?
iii)

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) experimental evaluative subjective well-being question, tested in the Annual Population Survey (2012) and the Opinions Survey (2011b):

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • Respondents are asked to provide an answer from 0 (“not at all”) to 10 (“completely”). iv) The Andrews and Withey 1976 “Delighted-Terrible” scale (reported in Diener, 2009):
  • How do you feel about your life as a whole?
  • Respondents are supplied with seven response options ranging from “Delighted” to “Terrible”.

Example affect measures

i)

Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) © Copyright by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, January 2009. Published in E. Diener (2009), Assessing Well-Being: The Collected Works of Ed Diener, Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Please think about what you have been doing and experiencing during the past four weeks. Then report how much you experienced each of the following feelings, using the scale below. For each item, select a number from 1 to 5, and indicate that number on your response sheet:
  • Positive.
  • Negative.
  • Good.
  • Bad.
  • Pleasant.
  • Unpleasant.
  • Happy.
  • Sad.
  • Afraid.
  • Joyful.
  • Angry.
  • Contented.

Response code for each item:

1.

Very rarely or never.

2.

Rarely.

3.

Sometimes.

4.

Often.

5.

Very often or always.

ii)

Huppert et al. (2009), European Social Survey well-being module:

  • I will now read out a list of the ways you might have felt or behaved in the past week. Please tell me how much of the time during the past week:
a)

…you felt depressed.

b)

…you felt that everything you did was an effort.

c)

…your sleep was restless.

d)

…you were happy

e)

…you felt lonely.

f)

…you enjoyed life.

g)

…you felt sad.

h)

…you could not get going.

i)

…you had a lot of energy

j)

…you felt anxious.

k)

…you felt tired.

l)

…you were absorbed in what you were doing.

m)

…you felt calm and peaceful.

n)

…you felt bored.

0)

…you felt really rested when you woke up in the morning.

  • Note: Items a) to h) comprise the short Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977; Steffick, 2000).
  • Response code for each item:
    • 1. None or almost none of the time.
    • 4. All or almost all of the time.
iii)

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) experimental experienced subjective well-being questions, tested in the Annual Population Survey (2012):

  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday? (positive affect)
  • Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday? (negative affect)
  • For both items, respondents are asked to provide an answer from 0 (“not at all”) to 10 (“completely).
iv)

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) extended experimental experience subjective well-being questions, tested in the August 2011 Opinions Survey (2011b).

Positive affect items:

  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how content did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how calm did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how relaxed did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how peaceful did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how much enjoyment did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how joyful did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how energised did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how excited did you feel yesterday?

Negative affect items:

  • Overall, how tired did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how stressed did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how worried did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how bored did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how much pain did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how angry did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how lonely did you feel yesterday?

For all items, respondents are asked to provide an answer from 0 (“not at all”) to 10 (“completely”).

Example eudaimonic measures

i)

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) experimental eudaimonic subjective well-being question, tested in the Annual Population Survey (2012):

  • Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
ii)

Psychological Well-Being Scale (PWB) © Copyright by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, January 2009. Published in E. Diener (2009), Assessing Well-Being: The Collected Works of Ed Diener, Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Below are 8 statements with which you may agree or disagree. Using the 1-7 response scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by indicating that response for each statement.
  • I lead a purposeful and meaningful life.
  • My social relationships are supportive and rewarding.
  • I am engaged and interested in my daily activities.
  • I actively contribute to the happiness and well-being of others.
  • I am competent and capable in the activities that are important to me.
  • I am a good person and live a good life.
  • I am optimistic about my future.
  • People respect me.

Response code for all items:

  • 7. Strongly agree.
  • 6. Agree.
  • 5. Slightly agree.
  • 4. Mixed or neither agree nor disagree.
  • 3. Slightly disagree.
  • 2. Disagree.
  • 1. Strongly disagree.
iii)

Huppert and So (2011), Flourishing index, drawn from the European Social Survey (2006/7) Round 3 supplementary well-being module.

Construct nameESS item used as indicatorResponse format
CompetenceMost days I feel a sense of accomplishment from what I do.5-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
EngagementI love learning new things. 
MeaningI generally feel that what I do in my life is valuable and worthwhile. 
OptimismI am always optimistic about my future. 
Positive relationshipsThere are people in my life who really care about me. 
ResilienceWhen things go wrong in my life it generally takes me a long time to get back to normal.1 
Self-esteemIn general, I feel very positive about myself. 
Emotional stability(In the past week) I felt calm and peaceful.4-point scale from none or almost none of the time to all or almost all of the time.
Vitality(In the past week) I had a lot of energy. 
Positive emotionTaking all things together, how happy would you say you are?0 to 10 scale from extremely unhappy to extremely happy.
1

Reverse-coded item.

For details of how these items were compiled into an operational definition of flourishing, see Huppert and So (2011).

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Bookshelf ID: NBK189562

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