Happiness Scales: (An Update)

In this article we will discuss happiness and happiness scales

Measuring happiness can be tricky as it is similar to catching mysterious and exceptional butterflies because we can’t know for sure what net to use. Similarly, there are different types of happiness, the type we feel after eating our favorite food or after eating a piece of chocolate. We also feel happy after getting a pay raise or a bonus at work. Or is it when we sit with our friends and laugh together or is it the peace of mind? It is still a mystery to know the exact type of happiness. All of the above mentioned types of happiness are experienced at different times. Many scales have been developed to measure happiness and most of them are self-reports. Let’s discuss these types of scale in detail in this article. 

What exactly is happiness?

Along with topics like well-being and mental health, happiness has also become a topic of attention in positive psychology.

Companies and organizations have made arrangements and taken steps to increase employees’ happiness and make them happier which in turns make them productive as well.

Moreover, there are more positive and constructive approaches towards making mankind happier.

It would not be wrong to say that happiness is now trending in the world and people are trying to find more and more ways to find ways which can make them happier than before.

Despite the increasing popularity of happiness, we still wonder at times about ‘what exactly happiness is’. 

Importance of Measuring Happiness

There is no denying that happiness can be crucial to a person’s daily functioning.

If a person does not feel happy, he won’t be able to do routine tasks with enthusiasm.

If a person is lethargic or feel grumpy all the time, he can put himself and others in danger while not concentrating on the important tasks.

It is of paramount importance to be happy but it is more important to know how happy you are.

Measuring happiness can help a person in the following ways.

  • Employers used in the organizations to increase the motivation in the employees by assessing the need for conducting seminars and workshops for making their workers happier.
  • It can be used for the screening of mental health disorders for example lower happiness or low mood can be a symptom of major depressive disorder. 
  • Moreover, an elevated mood at all times can be an indicator of a manic episode.
  • Assessment and measurement of happiness can also help you understand the effects of an ongoing psychotherapy
  • It can be beneficial to both mental health practitioners and a person suffering from a mental health disorder.
  • It can be used to assess if a child (a new comer to school) is enjoying the experience or not.
  • Moreover, measurement of happiness can be an effective measure to check your overall satisfaction towards life which can help you explore yourself and in turn you can improve your quality of life. 

You can also measure happiness by using a Life Orientation Test.

You can also use a mood tracker to see how your mood changes throughout the day and how may times during the day is your mood happy.

How to define happiness?

Happiness can be defined in a number of ways because experience of being happy can be different for different people.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, ‘happiness is state of well-being and contentment’.

Happiness is considered synonymous with words like joy, laughter, satisfaction and these concepts are considered related to one another.

According to another definition by Lyubomirsky “happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile”.

There are a number of ways to define happiness, similarly, there are a lot of ways to measure happiness and find out how much or actually happy we are.

The article will throw light at some of the famous happiness scales and how they work to measure happiness.

Happiness Surveys

Most of the surveys tend to find out the secret towards happiness.

The surveys we are going to discuss here are also based on the idea of secret to happiness.

Psychologists are more concerned about what makes you happy than thinking how happy you are.

These are developed after assessing the need for finding out the secret underlying happiness.

Different people can have different triggers for happiness and these scales intend to find out the varying sources of happiness of different people.

Different items, questions and scoring systems are used in these scales to find out the secret to happiness.

Happiness can be a subjective topic and it is hard to find true happiness or the definition of true happiness.

Different tests available in the market have different versions of happiness and they tend to look at many other factors of happiness.

These surveys give you an idea of what happiness looks like to you.

You can also identify the areas to work on in your life which can be the reason for your happiness. 

  1. The Authentic Happiness Inventory

The Penn Authentic Happiness Survey and Test which is also known as the Authentic Happiness inventory and it can be accessed through the website of University of Pennsylvania Authentic Happiness.

It was devised by the professor and psychologist at the University of Michigan in 2005. Peterson has contributed widely in the field of Positive Psychology and it is a self-reported questionnaire.

It is a self-reported measure which tells about a person’s experience of positive emotions and how much involved in your everyday tasks and what is your feeling about the purpose and meaning of your life.

The inventory has 24 items and each group includes 5 statements which reflect your perception about different aspects of life.

The inventory asks you to choose the statement which describes the feelings about your past week. 

The score will be presented at the end of the inventory and a scale of 1 to 5 shows your score with 5 being the highest in terms of happiness.

This inventory is an online source of assessment so the scores are relevant to other people who have taken the test.

Moreover, the site also tells you that these scores are not your actual view of happiness.

If the test is taken again by the same person then the past scores, date of test taking and your new results.

This inventory is to track your happiness for your self- record and you can also look at your fluctuation of score during the week.

You can find out the sources of your happiness using this inventory. 

  1. The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire

The scale was created by the two professors at Oxford University and that’s where the scale gets its name.

It was devised by Michael Argyle and Peter Hills and it was known to be the better version of the Oxford Happiness Inventory which is its predecessor.

You can download the scale in PDF.

It is a questionnaire that has 29 statements and the statements are both positively and negatively phrased which are related to different aspects and areas of well-being.

The reason for these differently phrased items is to let the participants read the items carefully.

It uses a 6-point Likert scale with 6 being the highest of ‘strongly agree’. You can also calculate your own score after completing the questionnaire.

12 items in the scale are reversely scored and the average will be calculated after reverse scoring to complete the scores on the scale.

The scale gives you a preview of what your own happiness looks like.

You can always retake the scale and see if your happiness has changed overtime.

You can also find the sources of your happiness and the things which make you happier.

  1. The Yale Happiness Test

A professor of psychology, Laurie Santos, at Yale University started the class for Psychology and The Good Life in January 2018.

It had 1200 students in the class and she asked the students to take a happiness test at the start of that course.

She mainly used the University of Pennsylvania Authentic Happiness Inventory to know the vivid idea of a person’s own happiness.

In the middle of 2018, Santos used Coursera to launch her course online and according to an estimate, more than 130,000 people have enrolled in the course and they have also taken the test since the course has been launched. 

  1. The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) 

It is a short and fairly straight-forward survey and was created by Lepper and Lyubomirsky in 1999.

It is available in PDF as well as online and it is also known as the General Happiness Scale.

It is one of the shortest scales of happiness and consists of only 4 items and it uses a 7 point Likert scale which is different for every item.

The scale has been validated with the help of 14 different studies conducted over 2700 different participants and it is found correlated with well-being questionnaires.

Item four in this scale is reversely scored and you can easily calculate your average on the scale.

The average score for this scale is 4.5 and 5.5 and the trend for students score is below 5 while working adults have an average score of 5.6. 

  1. The 1-10 Happiness Scale

It is one of the mostly widely known scales of happiness.

It is targeted to let you find out your current happiness in life.

It is specified about a certain area of happiness of life for example, family, work, academics, sleep, communication and even health.

It uses a 10-point Likert scale with 10 being the highest and score 10 indicates that you are happiest and score of 1 shows your least happy state.

It is highly convenient for people who want to measure their own happiness. For example, you can use the item “on a scale of 1 to 10, How happy am I with…?” and ask yourself this question for different parts of your life. 

FAQ’s about Happiness

How do you assess happiness?

Self-reports are known to be the most effective and renowned way of assessing happiness.

Multiple items scales can be used or you can also use a single question.

Level of happiness is asked from people and they tell the answer according to their subjective state

What are some other scales to measure happiness?

There are a few other scales apart from the scales mentioned above. 

The Happiness Test by Psychology Today
Be Happy Index (BHI)
The Happiness Skills Quiz

Are there any tests or surveys for students’ happiness?

The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) is best known for students’ happiness scale and the 1-10 Happiness Scale also is valuable for students.

Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is also used to measure happiness amongst children and students.