Satisfaction with Life Scale

The Satisfaction with Life Scale< Graphics courtesy of livehappyOpens in new window

The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) was developed by American psychologist Ed Diener and colleagues (Diener, Emmons, Larson, & Griffin, 1985) as a measure of overall life satisfaction.

The SWLS is one of relatively few assessment tools of positive emotional states; the majority of assessment tools measuring emotion focus on negative emotional states. The SWLS is one of the most widely used measures of life satisfaction or general wellbeing and is primarily utilized in research (rather than as a clinical or diagnostic test).

The SWLS consists of only five items that the assessee (person taking the test) rates on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Examples of items are “In most ways, my life is close to ideal” and “If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.” Completing the SWLS takes one to two minutes.

A number of research questions can be addressed through the use of the SWLS. In addition to measuring general life satisfaction, it can also be used to measure stability or changes in life satisfaction over time.

Another potential topic of study is the relationship between people’s objective circumstances (e.g., socioeconomic status, level of education, age) and one’s general life satisfaction.

Researchers have also utilized the SWLS to assess life satisfaction in specific populations such as the elderly (Richeson & Thorson, 2002), people suffering from traumatic injury (Corrigan, Bogner, Mysiw, Clinchot, & Fugate, 2001), and university students (Paolini, Yanez, & Kelly, 2006). With the increasing popularity of the positive psychology movement in psychology, this measure is likely to be widely used.

See Also:
  1. Corrigan, J.D., Bogner, J.A., Mysiw, W.J., Clinchot, D., & Fugate, L. (2001). Life satisfaction after traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 16, 543 – 555.
  2. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R.J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment., 49 71 – 75.
  3. Paolini, L., Yanez, A. P. & Kelly, W.E. (2006) An examination of worry and life satisfaction among college students. Individual Differences Research, 4, 331 – 339.