Social Indicators Research

, Volume 124, Issue 1, pp 249–258 | Cite as

An Item Response Theory Analysis of the Subjective Happiness Scale

  • Brian P. O’ConnorEmail author
  • Maxine R. Crawford
  • Mark D. Holder


Item response theory analyses were conducted on Lyubomirsky and Lepper’s (Soc Indic Res 46:137–155, 1999) Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) in a sample of 1,037 undergraduates. In general, the SHS performed well. However, four, clear, previously unreported findings emerged that suggest modifications for improving the scale. The measure displayed weak discrimination power at the high, happy end of the latent trait continuum. The number of response options (seven) is excessive and unnecessary. One of the SHS items is problematic and provides minimal psychometric information relative to the other three items, apparently because of ambiguity in the wording of the item. And a three-item version of the SHS performed just as well as the original, four-item version. The implications of these findings for the usage and further development of the SHS are discussed.


Happiness Wellbeing Psychometrics Item response theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian P. O’Connor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maxine R. Crawford
    • 1
  • Mark D. Holder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British Columbia - OkanaganKelownaCanada

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