Social Indicators Research

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 403–434

Stability and Sensitivity in Perceived Quality of Life Measures: Some Panel Results


DOI: 10.1007/s11205-009-9554-2

Cite this article as:
Michalos, A.C. & Maurine Kahlke, P. Soc Indic Res (2010) 98: 403. doi:10.1007/s11205-009-9554-2


The aim of this study was to test a fundamental assumption concerning 27 of the most frequently used measures to assess aspects of the quality of people’s lives, e.g., measures concerning happiness, satisfaction with life as a whole, with the quality of one’s life, with domains of life (job, marriage, friendships), and with perceived gaps between what one has compared to what one wants, what one’s neighbor has and so on. The assumption is that such measures are sensitive to changes in the circumstances of one’s life measured by self-perceptions of change and by self-assessments of the net balance of salient positive and negative events one has experienced in some specified period of time. A total of 462 residents of British Columbia distributed across 3 different panels completed mailed-out questionnaires at 3 points in time in 2005, 06 and 07. Among other things, we found that measuring year-by-year changes in respondents’ life circumstances by reports of their own perception and experienced life events, on average the values of the 27 variables changed in ways that were consistent with respondents’ reported changes in 49.7% of the cases examined. The success rate of the assumption using self-perceptions of change (61.7%) was much higher than the success rate using a net balance of experienced events (37.3%).


Quality of lifeHappinessLife satisfactionStability of measuresSensitivity of measuresJob satisfactionMarital satisfactionMultiple discrepancies theory

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts OfficeBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada
  2. 2.ColdstreamCanada