Abstract Chapter 5 Introductory text to Collection Measures of Happiness


Accepted measures are classified in two ways: first by the substantive meaning they tap and second by their methodological characteristics.

The categorization of meaning involves the kind of happiness the measure focuses on, for instance whether the focal point is on pleasant mood or on contentment. This is called the focus. Measures are also classified by the period considered. For example, whether a question on happiness pertains to the last few years or to the mood of the moment. This is referred to as the time frame.

The classification of methodic aspects starts with the technique by which happiness is assessed. Questioning is the most common method, but affect level can also be assessed by behavioral observation (cf. Section 3/2). Next to direct questioning, there are also indirect techniques, such as content analysis of diaries. These assessment methods are referred to as the mode. All assessments of happiness are scored in a way that allows a ranking. Mostly this is done by using numerical scales, but scores are also recorded on verbally labeled scales or on graphic scales. So the next subject of classification is the rating-scale used. Both the scale-type and the scale-range are recorded.

Substantive Meaning
Focus: The kind of happiness addressed
Timeframe: The period considered

Method of assessment
Mode: The technique by which happiness is assessed
Scale type: How the observation is scored
Scale range: Number of degrees of happiness distinguished
Sub-variant: Variation in phrasing of otherwise equivalent question

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