Traditional Approaches To The Study Of Happiness

In order to assess whether or not individuals are happy, researchers have devised a number of fairly straightforward self-report measures, although because of the wideranging nature of the concept it is not always happiness that these inventories purportedly measure. There now exist questionnaires that look at "positive affect", "subjective well-being", "satisfaction with life", "quality of life", and a number of other related constructs. Although there are clearly debates about the relationship of these different concepts to each other, it is our broad assumption in this chapter that they are all more or less intended as synonyms for the concept of happiness when taken in its broadest sense (e.g., Layard, 2005).

On the prototypical happiness questionnaire, the respondent is asked, on a single- or multiple-item scale, how happy he or she is: for example, the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), The Depression-Happiness Scale (McGreal & Joseph, 1993), The Memorial University of Newfoundland Scale of Happiness (Kozma & Stones, 1980), and the Oxford Happiness Inventory (Hills & Argyle, 1998) (see Argyle, 2001, and Larsen & Fredrickson, 1999, for reviews). Convergent validity for such measures is surprisingly good. For example, Sandvik, Diener, and Seidlitz (1993) found a strong relationship between self-reports of emotional well-being and interview ratings, peer ratings, reports of the average ratio of pleasant to unpleasant moods, and an index of a memory for pleasant and unpleasant events. Furthermore, such measures are purportedly uncontaminated by social desirability (Diener et al., 1991), and show structural invariance across time and cultural group (e.g., Vitterso, Roysamb, & Diener, 2002).

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