Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS)

Measures subjective happiness based on self-assessment of four questions.

Refer to the text below the calculator for more information about the SHS.


The SHS is a-item self-administered 4-question scale of global subjective happiness.

The first two items ask the respondent to characterize themselves using an absolute rating and a rating relative to peers whilst the second two items offer brief descriptions of happy and unhappy individuals and ask the respondents to evaluate to which extend each of the descriptions characterizes them.


To score the scale, the values from the first three items are scored as chosen by respondent whilst the 4th item is reverse scored (i.e. 7 is turned into 1, 6 into 2, 5 into 3, 3 into 5, 2 into 6 and 1 into 7), then all 4 items are summed then averaged, to offer the final score.


Instruction: For each of the following statements and/or questions, please select the point on the scale that you feel is most appropriate in describing you.

1In general, I consider myself:
Not a very happy personA very happy person
2Compared with most of my peers, I consider myself:
Less happyMore happy
3Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization describe you?
Not at allA great deal
4Some people are generally not very happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. To what extent does this characterization describe you?
Not at allA great deal
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Steps on how to print your input & results:

1. Fill in the calculator/tool with your values and/or your answer choices and press Calculate.

2. Then you can click on the Print button to open a PDF in a separate window with the inputs and results. You can further save the PDF or print it.

Please note that once you have closed the PDF you need to click on the Calculate button before you try opening it again, otherwise the input and/or results may not appear in the pdf.


 

About the SHS

The Subjective Happiness Scale is a-item self-administered 4-question scale of global subjective happiness. The first two items ask the respondent to characterize themselves using an absolute rating and a rating relative to peers:

  • “In general, I consider myself”
  • “Compared with most of my peers, I consider myself”

The second two items offer brief descriptions of happy and unhappy individuals and ask the respondents to evaluate to which extend each of the descriptions characterizes them.

  • “Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization describe you?”
  • “Some people are generally not very happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. To what extent does this characterization describe you?”

To score the SHS, the values from the first three items are scored as chosen by respondent whilst the 4th item is reverse scored (i.e. 7 is turned into 1, 6 into 2, 5 into 3, 3 into 5, 2 into 6 and 1 into 7), then all 4 items are summed then averaged, to offer the final score.

The SHS has been validated in 14 studies with a total of 2,732 participants. Data has been collected in the United States from:

  • students on two college campuses;
  • one high school campus;
  • community adults in two California cities.

And in Moscow, Russia from:

  • Students;
  • Community adults;
  • Older, retired adults.

Studies have concluded that the SHS has high internal consistency, which has been found to be stable across samples. Test-retest and self-peer correlations have suggested good to excellent reliability.

The average score on the Subjective Happiness Scale has been found to be from 4.5 to 5.5 depending on the respondent group in the study. College students tend to score lower (scores just below 5) whilst working adults and elderly respondents average 5.6.

So when an adult of working age scores less than 5.6, they can be considered as less happy than the average person. If the score is greater than 5.6 then the adult can be considered happier than the average person.

 

References

Original reference

Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research. 1999;46, 137-155.

Other references

Schwartz, B., Ward, A., Monterosso, J., Lyubomirsky, S., White, K., & Lehman, D. R. Maximizing versus satisficing: Happiness is a matter of choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2002;83, 1178-1197.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Ross, L. Changes in attractiveness of elected, rejected, and precluded alternatives: A comparison of happy and unhappy individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1999; 76, 988-1007.


Specialty: Psychiatry

Objective: Assessment

No. Of Items: 4

Year Of Study: 1999

Abbreviation: SHS

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: April 25, 2020

Last Checked: April 25, 2020

Next Review: April 25, 2025