Child Indicators Research

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–28 | Cite as

Subjective Indicators of Personal Well-Being among Adolescents. Performance and Results for Different Scales in Latin-Language Speaking Countries: A Contribution to the International Debate

  • Ferran CasasEmail author
  • Jorge Castellá Sarriera
  • Daniel Abs
  • Germà Coenders
  • Jaime Alfaro
  • Enrique Saforcada
  • Graciela Tonon


Different single-item and multiple-item scales are used as subjective indicators of well-being in the international arena. However, very few cross-cultural studies exist into subjective indicators of well-being among adolescent populations. In this study, three different multi-item scales, variations of these scales and several single items –all of them previously used separately in international research- were tested together on 12 to 16-year-old adolescents in 4 different countries with Latin-based languages (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain). The scales are the PWI (Cummins, Eckersley, van Pallant, Vugt, Misajon, et al., Social Indicators Research, 64, 159–190, 2003), SWLS (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Smith, Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75, 1985) and BMSLSS (Seligson, Huebner & Valois, Social Indicators Research, 61, 121–145, 2003). The single-item scales explored are: one on overall life satisfaction (OLS), one on happiness with overall life (HOL), Fordyce’s single-item scale, two items from Russell’s scale (2003) on core affects (CAS), one on happiness and another on satisfaction and the optional item 6 of the BMSLSS. The performance of these scales is analyzed by taking into account overall scores from the pooled sample and scores in each country. Special attention has been paid to any trends in scores for each subjective well-being measure across age, as up until now diverse results have been obtained in different countries when using different instruments. In order to contribute to the debate on happiness versus satisfaction with life specifically in adolescents’ populations, multi-group structural equation models with factor invariance constraints have been used to model together the PWI, SWLS and BMSLSS in Brazil, Chile and Spain, with Argentina excluded due to the sample size being too small. The HOL, OLS and age were used as predictors of the three scales. The strongest relationships were between the BMSLSS and the HOL, the SWLS and the OLS, and between the PWI and the OLS. Age showed low but significant negative correlations with all three scales. A second order factor analysis model has also been tested, with some limitations. Results show directions for future exploration of a second order latent variable related to the 3 multiple-item scales, which would represent the “macro-construct” of positive life suggested by some authors. The interest in using these scales and items for cross-country comparison is discussed.


Subjective well-being Adolescents PWI SWLS BMSLSS Happiness Life satisfaction Positive psychology Psychological assessment Subjective indicators 



The Spanish research presented here has been funded by the Spanish Government’s Ministry of Science and Education, with reference number SEJ2007-62813/PS.

In Argentina the project was made possible by the support of the Cooperation Program between Argentina (MINCYT) and Brazil (CAPES) BR/08/18.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ferran Casas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jorge Castellá Sarriera
    • 1
  • Daniel Abs
    • 1
  • Germà Coenders
    • 1
  • Jaime Alfaro
    • 1
  • Enrique Saforcada
    • 1
  • Graciela Tonon
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Recerca sobre Qualitat de VidaUniversitat de GironaGironaSpain

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