Social Indicators Research

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 1-26

First online:

Developing measures of perceived life quality: Results from several national surveys

  • Frank M. AndrewsAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • , Stephen B. WitheyAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan

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This report presents the current status of a series of studies oriented toward the assessment of perceived life quality. The conceptual model proposes that a person's overall sense of life quality is understandable as a combination of affective responses to life ‘domains’, which are of two types-role situations and values. Over 100 items used to measure a wide variety of domains and 28 items assessing perceived overall life quality are presented. Various subsets of these items were used in interviews with several representative samples of American adults. Based on these data the domain items were grouped into a smaller number of semi-independent clusters which were internally stable across 10 different subgroups of the respondents and whose interrelationships were highly replicable in independent national samples. A series of analyses, some replicated in more than one survey showed: (1) an additive combination of 12 selected domains explained 50–60% of the variance in an index of overall life quality, (2) neither other domains nor several social characteristic variables contributed additional explanatory power, (3) this level of explanation was achieved in each of 22 subgroups of the population, and (4) additive combinations of domains worked as well as more complicated combinations.