Social Indicators Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 1–20

The affective and cognitive context of self-reported measures of subjective well-being


  • William Pavot
    • Psychology Dept.University of Illinois
  • Ed Diener
    • Psychology Dept.University of Illinois

DOI: 10.1007/BF01086714

Cite this article as:
Pavot, W. & Diener, E. Soc Indic Res (1993) 28: 1. doi:10.1007/BF01086714


Researchers attempting to understand the experience of subjective well-being have relied heavily on self-report measurement. Recent research focused on this method has demonstrated that a number of factors, such as the current mood of the respondent and the cognitive and social context surrounding the response, can significantly influence response to items inquiring about global subjective well-being or satisfaction with life. In the present study, several measurement strategies (e.g., single-item measures, multiple-item scales, and memory search tasks) were compared with regard to their susceptibility to such influences. Although some evidence for effects due to item-placement or transient mood were found, all of the global measures of subjective well-being and life satisfaction has significant convergence with peer-reports, and the single-item measures showed good temporal reliability across a one-month interval. The data provide evidence for a significant degree of stability in subjective well-being and life satisfaction.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993