Equivalence of Rating Scales Using Different Keywords
Research has shown that keywords make a difference, for instance that questions using the keyword ‘happiness’ elicit somewhat more positive responses than otherwise similar questions on ‘life satisfaction’. This difference is typically attributed to the topic addressed in the lead question, but there could also be a difference in the interpretation of the response options of the rating scale, for instance when ‘very happy’ denotes a lower degree of well-being than ‘very satisfied’. We present a method to explore the extent to which this difference in interpretation of response options occurs. We illustrate this method by applying it to equivalent response scales for happiness and life satisfaction with response options labeled in Dutch, Spanish and English. We conclude that the interpretation of the scales by respondents has to be examined and discussed carefully in advance before mutually comparing survey results across populations and nations for happiness and life satisfaction.
KeywordsLife Satisfaction Response Option Response Scale Survey Item General Social Survey
- Saris, W. E., & Gallhofer, I. N. (2007). Design, evaluation, and analysis of questionnaires for survey research (Wiley series in survey methodology). New York: Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 978-0-470-11495-7, e-ISBN 978–0–470-16519-5.Google Scholar
- Saris, W. E., & Gallhofer, I. N. (2014). Design, evaluation, and analysis of questionnaires for survey research (Wiley series in survey methodology, 2nd ed.). New York: Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 978-0-470-11495-7, ISBN 978–1–118-63461-5.Google Scholar
- The Leisure Development Center. (1980). Survey of values in 13 countries. Table book for the 1980 international conference on human values. Tokyo: The Leisure Development Center. http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/hap_bib/freetexts/~LeisureDevelopmentCentre_1980.pdf. Accessed 29 Jan 2016.
- Veenhoven, R. (2016). Measures of Happiness. World Database of happiness. Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam. Available at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/hap_quer/hqi_fp.htm
- Ventegodt, S. (1996). Liskvalitet hos 4500 31-33-arige. (The Quality of Life of 4500 31-33-Years-Olds). Copenhagen: Forskningscentrets Forlag.Google Scholar