Social Indicators Research

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 327–348

The Divergent Meanings of Life Satisfaction: Item Response Modeling of the Satisfaction with Life Scale in Greenland and Norway

Article

Abstract

Cultural differences in response to the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) items is investigated. Data were fit to a mixed Rasch model in order to identify latent classes of participants in a combined sample of Norwegians (N = 461) and Greenlanders (N = 180). Initial analyses showed no mean difference in life satisfaction between the two subsamples. After transforming the ordinal raw scores into interval scales while simultaneously controlling for response bias, different results appeared. First, approximately 80% of the participants in the Greenlandic subsample fit a latent class with a large degree of random responding to the SWLS. Second, relative to the Norwegians, more Greenlanders were using extreme categories in responding to the SWLS. After statistically controlling for this tendency, Norwegians were in general more satisfied with their lives than Greenlanders. Third, Greenlanders who belonged to one specific latent class were more satisfied than their Norwegian counterparts. A salient feature of this class was the relative unwillingness of respondents to change the circumstances of their lives if they were given such an opportunity. The above results are a reminder of the care that must be used in analyzing survey data across cultures. The analytical strategy applied in the article offers an improved approach to handling such data.

Keywords

Greenland item response modeling Norway satisfaction with life subjective well-being 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Andrich, D., Jong, J.A.L., Sheridan, B.E. 1997

    ‘Diagnostic opportunities with the Rash model for ordered response categories’

    Rost, JLangeheine, R. eds. Application of Latent Trait and Latent Class Models in the Social SciencesWaxmanMünster5972
    Google Scholar
  2. Bem, D.J., Allen, A. 1974‘On predicting some of the people some of the time: the search for cross-situational consistence in behavior’Psychological Review8150620Google Scholar
  3. Biswas-Diener, R., J. Vittersø and E. Diener: (2003), ‘Most people are pretty happy, but there is cultural variation: The Inughuit, the Amish, and the Maasai’, Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  4. Bond, T.G., Fox, C.M. 2001Applying the Rash model: Fundamental measurement in the human sciencesLawrence ErlbaumMathwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  5. Byrne, B.M., Watkins, D. 2003‘The issue of measurement invariance revisited’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology34155175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell, D.T., Fiske, D.W. 1959‘Covergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix’Psychological Bulletin5681105PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheung, G.W., Rensvold, R.B. 2000‘Assessing extreme and acquiescence response set in cross-cultural research using structural equation modeling’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology21187212Google Scholar
  8. Cheung, M.W.L., Chan, W. 2002‘Reducing uniform response bias with ipsative measurement in multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis’Structural Equation Modeling95577CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  9. Diener, E., Lucas, R.E. 2000‘Explaining differences in societal levels of happiness: Relative standards, need fulfilment, culture, and evaluation theory’Journal of Happiness Studies14178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eid, M. 1997

    ‘Happiness and satisfaction: An application of a latent state-trate model for ordinal variables’

    Rost, J.Langeheine, R. eds. Application of Latent Trait and Latent Class Models in the Social SciencesWaxmanMünster148154
    Google Scholar
  11. Eid, M., Diener, E. 2001‘Norms for Experiencing Emotions in Different Cultures: Inter- and Intranational Differences’Journal of Personality and Social Psychology81869885CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Embretson, S.E., Reise, S.P. 2000Item Response Theory for PsychologistsLawrence Erlbaum AssLondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Fiske, A. P. 1995

    ‘The cultural dimensions of psychological research: Method effects imply cultural mediation’

    Shrout, P.Fiske, S. eds. Personality Research, Methods, and TheoryLawrence ErlbaumHillsdale, N.J271294A Festschrift Honoring Donald W. Fiske
    Google Scholar
  14. Gigerenzer, G. 1998‘Surrogates for theories’Theory & Psychology8195204Google Scholar
  15. Grønlands Statistik: (2000), Grønland 2000. Statistisk Årbog (Grønlands hjemmestyre, Nuuk, Grønland).Google Scholar
  16. Hayduk, L. 2003‘Pearl’s D-separation: One more step into causal thinking’Structural Equation Modeling10289311CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  17. Holland, J.H., Holloak, K.J., Nisbett, R.E., Thagard, P.R. 1989Induction. Processes of Inference, Learning, and DiscoveryThe MIT PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson, M.L. 1984Self-esteem and meaning A life-historical investigationState University of New York PressAlbanyGoogle Scholar
  19. Landauer, T.K., Dumais, S.T. 1997‘A solution to Plato’s problem. The Latent Semantic Analysis theory of acquisition,induction,and representation of knowledge’Psychological Review104211240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Langeheine, R., Pannekoek, J., Pol, F. 1996‘Bootstrapping goodness-of-fit measures in categorical data analysis’Sociological Methods and Research24492516Google Scholar
  21. Lazarsfeld, P.F. 1950

    ‘The logical and mathematical foundation of latent structure analysis’

    Stouffer, S.A.Guttman, L.Suchman, E.A.Lazardsfeld, P.F.Star, S.A.Clausen, J.A. eds. Studies in Social Psychology in World War IIPrinceton University PressPrinceton, NJ362412
    Google Scholar
  22. Lucas, R.E., Clark, A.E., Georgellis, Y., Diener, E. 2003‘Re-examining adaptation and the setpoint model of happiness: Reactions to changes in marital status’Journal of Personality and Social Psychology84527539PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Mayr, E. 1982The Growth of Biological Thought Diversity, Evolution, and InheritanceHarvard University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Michell, J. 1990An Introduction to the Logic of Psychological MeasurementLawrence ErlbaumHillsdale, NJGoogle Scholar
  25. Michell, J. 1999Measurement in Psychology: Critical History of a Methodological conceptCambridge University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Murphy, G.L. 2002The Big Book of ConceptsThe MIT PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Osgood, C.E. 1969‘On the whys and wherefores of E, P, and A’Journal of Personality and Social Psychology12194199PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Osgood, C.E., Suci, G.J., Tannenbaum, P.H. 1957The Measurement of MeaningUniversity of Illinois PressUrbana, IllGoogle Scholar
  29. Pavot, W., Diener, E. 1993‘Review of the Satisfaction With Life Scale’Psychological Assessment5164172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Poortinga, Y.H. 1989‘Equivalence of cross-cultural data: An overview of basic issues’Internartional Journal of Psychology2737756Google Scholar
  31. Rost, J., Carstensen, C., Davier, M. 1997

    ‘Applying the mixed rash model to personality questionnaires’

    Rost, J.Langeheine, R. eds. Application of Latent Trait and Latent Class Models in the Social SciencesWaxmanMünster324332
    Google Scholar
  32. Rost, J., Langeheine, R. 1997

    ‘A guide through latent structure models for categorical data’

    Rost, J.Langeheine, R. eds. Application of Latent Trait and Latent Class Models in the Social SciencesWaxmanMünster1337
    Google Scholar
  33. Scheff, T.J. 1997Emotions, The social Bond,and Human Reality Part/Whole AnalysisCambridge University PressCambridge, IKGoogle Scholar
  34. Schwarz, N., Strack, F. 1999

    ‘Reports of subjective well-being: Judgmental processes and their methodological implications’

    Kahneman, D.Diener, E.Schwarz, N. eds. Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic PsychologyRussell Sage FoundationNew York6184
    Google Scholar
  35. Schyns, P. 1998‘Cross-national differences in happiness: Economic and cultural factors explored’Social Indicators Research43326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shipley, B. 2000Cause and Correlation in biology A Users Guide to Path Analysis,Structural Equations and Causal InferenceCambridge University PressCambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  37. Smedslund, J. 1988‘What is measured by a psychological measure?’Scandinavian Journal of Psychology29148151Google Scholar
  38. Thagard, P. 1992Conceptual RevolutionsPrinceton University PressPrinceton, N.JGoogle Scholar
  39. Thagard, P. 1999How Scientists Explain DiseasePrinceton University PressPrinceton, N.JGoogle Scholar
  40. Vijver, F., Leung, K. 1997Methods and Data Analyisis for Cross-Cultural DataSageLondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Vijver, F.J.R., Leung, K. 2000‘Methodological issues in psychological research on culture’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology313351Google Scholar
  42. Wittenboer, G., Hox, J.J., Leeuw, E.D. 1997

    ‘Aberrant response pattern in elderly respondents: Latent class analysis of respondent scalability’

    Rost, J.Langeheine, R. eds. Application of Latent Trait and Latent Class Models in the Social Sciences.WaxmanMünster155162
    Google Scholar
  43. Veenhoven, R. 1996‘Developments in satisfaction research’Social Indicators Research37146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vittersø, J.: (2003), ‘Qualities of life: Separating goal-orientation and plan-orientation in a multimodal model of well-being’, Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  45. Vittersø, J., Nilsen, F. 2002‘The conceptual and relational structure of subjective well-being, neuroticism, and extraversion: Neuroticism is again found to be the important predictor of happiness’Social Indicators Research5789118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Davier, M. 2000WINMIRA 32 User ManualIPN – Institute for Science EducationKiel, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  47. Watkins, D., Cheung, S. 1995‘Culture, gender, and response bias’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology26490504Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joar Vittersø
    • 1
  • Robert Biswas-Diener
    • 2
  • Ed Diener
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TromsoNorway
  2. 2.University of OregonUSA
  3. 3.University of Illinois and the Gallup OrganizationUSA

Personalised recommendations