Assessing Quality of Answers to a Global Subjective Well-being Question through Response Times

Ting Yan


Many large-scale surveys measure subjective well-being (SWB) through a single survey item. This paper takes advantages of response time data to explore the relation between time taken to answer a single SWB item and the reliability and validity of answers to this SWB item. We found that reliability and validity of answers to the SWB item are low for respondents aged 70 and above and for respondents who took more time to answer the item. The findings indicate that longer time spent answering the single SWB item is associated with data of lower quality, suggesting that the longer response time is probably a result of people having difficulty answering the item. This paper provides another piece of evidence that the single-SWB-item approach may not be the best way to measure subjective well-being, especially for older respondents.


subjective well-being; validity; reliability; response times

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