Social Indicators Research

, Volume 112, Issue 3, pp 529–534 | Cite as

Subjective Wellbeing: Telling Only Half the Story

A Commentary on Diener et al. (2012). Theory and Validity of Life Satisfaction Scales. Social Indicators Research
  • Richard EckersleyEmail author


A new paper presents a strong case for life satisfaction scales (Diener et al. in Soc Indic Res, 2012). However, it underestimates two important weaknesses in subjective wellbeing (SWB) measures: the contrast between individual satisfaction and social discontent; and the contradictory evidence on the benefits of personal freedom. This commentary argues that SWB, like other conventional indicators, is measuring Westernization or modernization, rather than improved quality of life or human progress and development. The concepts may overlap, but they are not the same thing. At best, the qualities being measured may be desirable, even necessary, but are not sufficient. At worst, the benefits of modernization are being counted, but not its costs, which are substantial and increasing.


Freedom Happiness Human development Individualization Life satisfaction Modernization Progress Subjective wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BundanoonAustralia

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