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Development of the Contentment with Life Assessment Scale (CLAS): Using Daily Life Experiences to Verify Levels of Self-Reported Life Satisfaction

Abstract

On average, Anglo-Americans report that they are satisfied with their lives, but their global evaluations tend to deviate from their daily experiences (e.g., Oishi [2002, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28(10), 1398–1406]). We explored the hypothesis that the average life satisfaction of Anglo-Americans is better characterized as neutral than satisfied. In Study 1 we developed the five-item Contentment with Life Assessment Scale (CLAS), which focuses on contentment, fulfillment and self-discrepancies. Normative data based on three general population samples demonstrated that the CLAS produces a close to normal distribution of scores, has excellent reliability, and is sensitive to differences in life conditions (e.g., income, marital status). In two daily diary studies we tested whether global life satisfaction measures corresponded to people’s daily subjective well-being. The CLAS was the best predictor among three self-report life satisfaction measures of daily escapist behaviors including television watching and alcohol consumption, and daily stress-related physical symptoms (Study 2). In Study 3, participants recorded their level of life satisfaction daily for two weeks. Average daily life satisfaction scores clustered close to the neutral rather than satisfied point of the measurement scale.

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Acknowledgements

This research is based, in part, on the second author’s master’s thesis and was supported by a UNBC seed grant to the first author and a UNBC graduate student scholarship to the second author. We are grateful to Dr. Jacqueline Vorauer of the University of Manitoba for including a preliminary version of the CLAS in the University of Manitoba’s mass testing. We also wish to thank Shirley Fortin and Alexandra Ilioupolus for their assistance with data entry and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

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Lavallee, L.F., Hatch, P.M., Michalos, A.C. et al. Development of the Contentment with Life Assessment Scale (CLAS): Using Daily Life Experiences to Verify Levels of Self-Reported Life Satisfaction. Soc Indic Res 83, 201–244 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-006-9054-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-006-9054-6

Keywords

  • life satisfaction
  • life satisfaction measurement
  • subjective well-being
  • contentment
  • daily diary methodology