Social Indicators Research

, 90:381 | Cite as

Effects of Varying Response Formats on Self-ratings of Life-Satisfaction

  • Mehrdad MazaheriEmail author
  • Peter Theuns


A sample of 1,737 volunteering students, randomly assigned to 12 conditions, rated their current overall (dis)satisfaction with life. Each condition used 1 of 12 response formats, differing in (1) polarity (bipolar versus unipolar), (2) orientation (horizontal versus vertical), and (3) anchoring (−5 to +5, Not Numbered, and 0 to 10). Results For satisfaction ratings, a negative skew was found for all response formats, but, a higher percentage of respondents scored in the upper part (Midpoint to top) of the scale with anchor points (−5 to +5) than on the scales with other anchor points (Not Numbered and 0 to 10). Our results indicate that, satisfaction ratings obtained with either a unipolar or a bipolar response scale were similar, but, participants experienced some difficulty in rating life dissatisfaction using the bipolar dissatisfaction–satisfaction response scale. Moreover, this study has found that life satisfaction and dissatisfaction show a reciprocal relation, especially when assessed with two independent unipolar rating scales. These results support the inclusion of one-way unipolar response scales in the assessment of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Conclusion Our results suggest that the type of response format may influence both satisfaction and dissatisfaction ratings as well as the relationships between these two constructs.


Overall life satisfaction Life dissatisfaction Bias Rating scale Response format Anchoring Bipolar scales Unipolar scales 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Sistan & BaluchestanZahedanIran
  2. 2.Methodology and Psychometrics, Faculty of Psychology and Education SciencesVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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