Scientific Scales and Measures
How do scientists measure human behavior and experience?
Perhaps the most common approach is to ask people questions. Multiple studies ask similar, agreed-upon questions in slightly different ways. To understand the impact of our own programs and create quizzes on Greater Good magazine, we often turn to this universe of research-validated self-report surveys, questionnaires, and experience sampling tools. For any project, choosing scales is a careful process of reading the questions themselves, examining how they relate to the themes of the project, and assessing whether the envisioned data gathered will confirm, or disconfirm your core hypotheses.
Here, as a resource, we offer a selected library of measurement tools that are commonly used in studies covered by the GGSC, both basic science (e.g. What is it?) and applied (e.g. How does it work?). The surveys, questionnaires, and self-rating approaches included have been tested in large populations for ecological validity and reliability, with peer-reviewed publications that justify their scientific value and potential impact.
- Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, 1985): A five-item scale designed to measure global cognitive judgments of one’s life satisfaction.
- The Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky and Lepper, 1999): A four-item scale of global subjective happiness.
- The Flourishing Scale (Diener, Wirtz, Tov, et al., 2009): An eight-item summary measure of the respondent’s self-perceived success in important areas such as relationships, self-esteem, purpose, and optimism.
- The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale–State (Brown and Ryan, 2003): A five-item scale designed to assess the short-term or current expression of a core characteristic of mindfulness, namely, a receptive state of mind.
- The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale–Trait (Brown and Ryan, 2003): The trait MAAS is a 15-item scale designed to assess receptivity and attention.
- Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, et al., 2006): This instrument is based on a factor analytic study of five independently developed mindfulness questionnaires.
- The Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale–Revised (Feldman, Hayes, Kumar, et al., 2007): The CAMS-R is a 12-item measure designed to capture a broad conceptualization of mindfulness with language that is not specific to any particular type of meditation training.
- The Gratitude Adjective Checklist (McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang, 2002): The GAC is a three-item measure comprised of the sum of affect adjectives: grateful, thankful, and appreciative.
- Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation Scale–Short Form (Watkins, Woodward, Stone, and Kolts, 2003): The GRAT-Short Form is a 16-item scale designed to measure an individual’s dispositional gratitude. The Gratitude Questionnaire – Six Item Form (GQ-6)
- The Gratitude Questionnaire-Six-Item Form (McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang, 2002): The GQ-6 is a six-item self-report questionnaire designed to assess individual differences in the proneness to experience gratitude in daily life.
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