Assessing Subjective Well-Being

In OST organizations that focus on student’s socio-emotional skills and wellbeing, pandemic conditions created new urgency to staff’s desire to know how students and caregivers were doing. While many OST organizations know how to ask families about basic needs created by the pandemic – health care, housing, food, transportation – sometimes staff are less comfortable checking in on mental health issues.

The concept of subjective-well-being (SWB) has traditionally been assessed using measures of happiness and satisfaction with life. Most of the measurement instruments developed to assess SWB use several items to assess each of several dimensions. However, for simplicity and efficiency, we recommend using only one item for each of the three dimensions: positive feelings, negative feelings, and life satisfaction.

Positive Feelings

On a scale of 1 to 10: During the past month, how often have you had positive feelings (e.g., happiness, joy, interest, calmness, and love)?

Negative Feelings

On a scale of 1 to 10: During the past month, how often have you had negative feelings (e.g., sadness, fear, boredom, anxiety, and hate)?

Life Satisfaction

On a scale of 1 to 10: During the past month, how satisfied have you felt with your life?