Interest in subjective well-being (SWB) is growing in policymaking, social science, and effective altruism. For my final year undergrad philosophy dissertation, I wrote about the possibility of scale-norming, an apparently neglected problem relating to the measurement of SWB. In general, scale-norming occurs when a quantitative measure yields different absolute values relative to its target construct between or across measurements. In the context of SWB, scale-norming happens when my self-reported life-satisfaction of 7/10 today indicates a different level of actual life-satisfaction than it did a year ago; or than it does for you. I found it surprising that almost nothing had been written about the possibility that scale-norming might occur in the measurement of SWB — not least because this seems like a question of real practical importance.

I would love to discuss this topic in the comments here. Criticism is also welcome — anonymous if you prefer. Thanks for reading if you do!




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