The ‘10 Excess’ Phenomenon in Responses to Survey Questions on Happiness

G Brule, R Veenhoven

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Abstract

Happiness in nations is typically measured in surveys using a single question. A common question is: 'All things considered, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your life as-a-whole these days on a scale from 0 to 10?'.The responses typically follow a uni-modal distribution with highest frequencies between 5 and 8. Yet in some nations, the percentage of 10 responses stands out and is higher than the percentage of 9 responses. In this paper we explore the prevalence of this '10-excess' pattern and check some possible explanations. We conclude that this 10-excess phenomenon is at least partly a matter of measurement bias. A correction for this bias increases the explanatory power. Keywords: happiness, survey research, cross national, cultural bias, response tendencies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-870
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Volume131
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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