Effects of Varying Response Formats on self-ratings of Life-Satisfaction

Mehrdad Mazaheri, Peter Theuns

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    A sample of 1737 volunteering students, randomly assigned to twelve conditions, rated their current overall (dis)satisfaction with life Each condition used one of twelve response formats, differing in (1) polarity (bipolar versus unipolar), (2) orientation (horizontal versus vertical), and (3) anchoring (-5 to +5, Not Numbered, and 0 to 10). Results: For satisfaction ratings, a negative skew was found for all response formats, but, a higher percentage of respondents scored in the upper part (Midpoint to top) of the scale with anchor points (-5 to +5) than on the scales with other anchor points (Not Numbered and 0 to 10). Our results indicate that, satisfaction ratings obtained with either a unipolar or a bipolar response scale were similar, but, participants experienced some difficulty in rating life dissatisfaction using the bipolar dissatisfaction-satisfaction response scale. Moreover, this study has found that life satisfaction and dissatisfaction show a reciprocal relation, especially when assessed with two independent unipolar rating scales. These results support the inclusion of one-way unipolar response scales in the assessment of satisfaction and dissatisfaction ratings. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the type of response format may influence the both satisfaction and dissatisfaction ratings as well as the relationships between these two constructs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)381-395
    Number of pages16
    JournalSocial Indicators Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2008


    • Overall Life Satisfaction
    • Rating scale
    • Anchoring
    • Bipolar and Unipolar scales


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