ERIC Number: EJ834518
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Happy by What Standard? The Role of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Comparisons in Ratings of Happiness
Steffel, Mary; Oppenheimer, Daniel M.
Social Indicators Research, v92 n1 p69-79 May 2009
The present research suggests that many of the most commonly-used indicators of happiness are constructed in a manner that renders them susceptible to null or misleading findings. While few happiness indicators specify particular comparison standards, we demonstrate that people tend to evaluate their happiness relative to comparison standards and give reliably different happiness ratings based on the comparison standards they spontaneously adopt. In Study 1, participants reported that intrapersonal comparisons were a more important consideration than interpersonal comparisons in determining their happiness ratings. In Study 2, participants using a free-response format more frequently reported making intrapersonal comparisons than interpersonal comparisons when rating happiness. In both Studies 1 and 2, participants who reported using interpersonal comparisons gave higher happiness ratings than those who reported using intrapersonal comparisons. In Study 3, participants who were prompted to make interpersonal comparisons gave higher happiness ratings than those prompted to make intrapersonal comparisons. We discuss the implications of these findings for measuring subjective well-being and interpreting happiness research.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A