Social Indicators Research

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 137–155 | Cite as

A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation

  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Heidi S. Lepper


Using a ''subjectivist'' approach to the assessment of happiness, a new 4-item measure of global subjective happiness was developed and validated in 14 studies with a total of 2 732 participants. Data was collected in the United States from students on two college campuses and one high school campus, from community adults in two California cities, and from older adults. Students and community adults in Moscow, Russia also participated in this research. Results indicated that the Subjective Happiness Scale has high internal consistency, which was found to be stable across samples. Test-retest and self-peer correlations suggested good to excellent reliability, and construct validation studies of convergent and discriminant validity confirmed the use of this scale to measure the construct of subjective happiness. The rationale for developing a new measure of happiness, as well as advantages of this scale, are discussed.


High School Internal Consistency Construct Validation Validation Study Discriminant Validity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Argyle, A. M.: 1987, The Psychology of Happiness (Methuen, London).Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, F. M., S. B. Withey: 1976, Social Indicators of Well-Being: America's Perception of Life Quality (Plenum Press, New York).Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T.: 1967, Depression: Clinical, Experimental, and Theoretical Aspects (Harper & Row, New York).Google Scholar
  4. Bem, D. J. and A. Allen: 1974, ‘On predicting some of the people some of the time: The search for cross-situational consistencies in behavior’, Psychological Review 81, pp. 506–520.Google Scholar
  5. Bradburn, N. M.: 1969, The Structure of Psychological Well-Being (Alpine, Chicago).Google Scholar
  6. Brickman, P. and D. T. Campbell: 1971, ‘Hedonic relativism and planning the good society’, in M. H. Appley (ed.), Adaptation Level Theory: A Symposium (Academic Press, New York), pp. 287–302.Google Scholar
  7. Brickman, P., D. Coates and R. Janoff-Bulman: 1978, ‘Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 36, pp. 917–927.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brislin, R. W.: 1970, ‘Back-translation for cross-cultural research’, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 1, pp. 185–216.Google Scholar
  9. Cantril, H.: 1965, The Pattern of Human Concerns (Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick).Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, J.: 1977, Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences (Academic Press, New York).Google Scholar
  11. Costa, P. T., Jr and R. R. McCrae: 1980, ‘Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38, pp. 668–678.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Costa, P. T., Jr., McCrae, R. R.: 1984, ‘Personality as a lifelong determinant of well-being’, in C. Malatesa and C. Izard (eds.), Affective Processes in Adult Development and Aging (Sage Publishing, Beverly Hills, CA), pp. 141–157.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1975, Beyond Boredom and Anxiety (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA).Google Scholar
  14. Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1990, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper & Row, New York).Google Scholar
  15. Cummings, E. and W. E. Henry: 1961, Growing Old and the Process of Disengagement (Basic Book: New York).Google Scholar
  16. Diener, E.: 1984, ‘Subjective well-being’, Psychological Bulletin 95, pp. 542–575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Diener, E.: 1994, ‘Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities’, Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 103–157.Google Scholar
  18. Diener, E.: 1996, ‘Subjectivewell-being and personality’, in D. Barone, M. Hesen and V. Van Hasselt (eds.), Advanced Personality (Plenum Press, New York).Google Scholar
  19. Diener, E., R. A. Emmons, R. J. Larsen and S. Griffin: 1985, ‘The Satisfaction with Life Scale’, Journal of Personality Assessment 49, pp. 71–75.Google Scholar
  20. Dupuy, H. J.: 1978, ‘The research edition of the general psychological well-being schedule’, unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  21. Emmons, R. A.: 1986, ‘Personal strivings: An approach to personality and subjective well-being’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51, pp. 1058–1068.Google Scholar
  22. Epstein, S.: 1979, ‘The stability of behavior: I. On predicting most of the people much of the time’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 37, pp. 1097–1126.Google Scholar
  23. Epstein, S.: 1983, ‘Aggregation and beyond: Some basic issues on the prediction of behavior’, Journal of Personality 51, pp. 360–392.Google Scholar
  24. Eysenck, M. W.: 1990, Happiness: Facts and Myths (Lawrence Erlbaum, London).Google Scholar
  25. Eysenck, H. J. and S. B. G. Eysenck: 1975, Manual of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (Hodder & Stoughton, London), I.Google Scholar
  26. Freedman, J.: 1978, Happy People: What Happiness Is, Who Has It, and Why (Harcourt Brace Jovanovic, New York).Google Scholar
  27. Gurin, G., J. Veroff and S. Feld: 1960, Americans View Their Mental Health (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar
  28. Headey, B. and A. Wearing: 1989, ‘Personality, life events, and subjective wellbeing: Toward a dynamic equilibrium model’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57, pp. 731–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holmes, R. H. and R. H. Rahe: 1967, ‘The social readjustment rating scale’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research 11, pp. 213–218.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Juster, F. T. and F. P. Stafford (eds.): 1985, Time, Goods, andWell-Being (Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, MI).Google Scholar
  31. Kendrick, D. T. and D. C. Funder: 1988, ‘Profiting from controversy: Lessons from the person-situation debate’, American Psychologist 43, pp. 23–34.Google Scholar
  32. Kozma, A. andM. J. Stones: 1980, ‘The measurement of happiness: Development of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Scale of Happiness (MUNSH)’, Journal of Gerontology 35, pp. 906–912.Google Scholar
  33. Lemon, B. W., V. L. Bengston and J. A. Peterson: 1972, ‘An exploration of the activity theory of aging: Activity types and life satisfaction among in-movers to a retirement community’, Journal of Gerontology 27, pp. 511–523.Google Scholar
  34. Lyubomirsky, S.: 1994, ‘The hedonic consequences of social comparison: Implications for enduring happiness and transient mood’, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Psychology, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  35. Lyubomirsky, S. and L. Ross: 1990, ‘Cognitive strategies to enhance happiness: Choosing to be happy’, working paper, Department of Psychology, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  36. Lyubomirsky, S. and L. Ross: 1997a, ‘Changes in attractiveness of elected, rejected, and precluded alternatives: A comparison of "happy" and "unhappy" individuals’, manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  37. Lyubomirsky, S. and L. Ross: 1997b, ‘Hedonic consequences of social comparison: A contrast of happy and unhappy people’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73, pp. 1141–1157.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Michalos, A. C.: 1985, ‘Multiple Discrepancy Theory (MDT)’, Social Indicators Research 16, pp. 347–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mischel, W.: 1968, Personality and Assessment (Plenum Press, New York).Google Scholar
  40. Mischel, W.: 1984, ‘Convergence and challenges in the search of consistency’, American Psychologist 39, pp. 351–364.Google Scholar
  41. Myers, D. G.: 1992, The Pursuit of Happiness: Who Is Happy-And Why (William Morrow, New York).Google Scholar
  42. Myers, D. G. and E. Diener: 1995, ‘Who is happy?’, Psychological Science 6, pp. 10–19.Google Scholar
  43. Omodei, M. M. and A. J. Wearing: 1990, ‘Need satisfaction and involvement in personal projects: Toward an integrative model of subjective well-being’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 59, pp. 762–769.Google Scholar
  44. Parducci, A.: 1984, ‘Value judgments: Toward a relational theory of happiness’, in J. Fiser (ed.), Attitudinal Judgment (Springer, New York), pp. 3–21.Google Scholar
  45. Pavot, W., E. Diener, C. R. Colvin and E. Sandvik: 1991, ‘Further validation of the Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidence for the cross-method convergence of well-being measures’, Journal of Personality Assessment 49, pp. 71–75.Google Scholar
  46. Rosenberg, M.: 1965, Society and the Adolescent Self-Image (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar
  47. Ross, L. and R. E. Nisbett: 1991, The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology (McGraw-Hill, New York).Google Scholar
  48. Sears, D. O.: 1986, ‘College sophomores in the laboratory: Influences of a narrow data base on social psychology's view of human nature’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51, pp. 515–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sheier,M. F. and C. S. Carver: 1985, ‘Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies’, Health Psychology 4, pp. 219–247.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Stewart, A. L., J. E. Ware Jr., C. D. Sherbourne and K. B. Wells: 1992, ‘Psychological distress/well-being and cognitive functioning measures’, in A. L. Stewart and J. E. Ware (eds.), Measuring Functioning and Well-Being (Duke University Press, Durham), pp. 102–142.Google Scholar
  51. Tellegen, A.: 1985, ‘Structures of mood and personality and their relevance to assessing anxiety, with an emphasis on self-report’, in A. H. Tuma and J. D. Maser (eds.), Anxiety and the Anxiety Disorders (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ), pp. 681–706.Google Scholar
  52. Veenhoven, R.: 1994, ‘Is happiness a trait: Tests of the theory that a better society does not make people any happier’, Social Indicators Research 32, pp. 101–160.Google Scholar
  53. Zajonc, R. B. and D. N. McIntosh: 1992, ‘Emotions research: Some promising questions and some questionable promises’, Psychological Science 3, pp. 70–74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
    • 1
  • Heidi S. Lepper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideU.S.A

Personalised recommendations