What we know about context effects in self-report surveys of well-being comment on Deaton and Stone


Lucas, R. E., Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2016). What we know about context effects in self-report surveys of well-being: comment on Deaton and Stone. Oxford Economic Papers, 68(4), 871-876.


Subjective well-being (SWB) judgements are thought to reflect people's overall evaluation of the quality of their lives from their own perspectives. Despite the fact that SWB measures are inherently subjective , self-reports of this construct are not automatically and necessarily valid. People who respond to survey questions about their well-being must accurately assess their own subjective state and then translate that state into a response on a questionnaire item. As many researchers have noted, this process is not always straightforward ( Schwarz, 1999 ). People may not be able to accurately assess their internal feelings, they may wish to hide or distort these feelings for an external audience, or they may have trouble translating their internal state to a discrete response option. Thus, a major focus of SWB researchers has been the investigation of the psychometric properties of the measures used.

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