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Effects of response formats on ratings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with life

Tuesday, 14 November, 2006 - 17:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Psychology and Educational Sciences
Mehrdad Mazaheri
phd defence

This dissertation, comprising three studies, was initiated to survey the impact
of rating scale formats on satisfaction and dissatisfaction ratings.

Study 1 investigates the effects of variations in polarity (bipolar versus
unipolar), scale orientation (horizontal versus vertical) and anchoring (0 to 10,
-5 to +5, and Not Numbered) on (1) overall satisfaction with life (OSWL) and
overall dissatisfaction with life (ODWL) ratings, (2) the relationship between
OSWL and ODWL, and (3) the relationship between overall (dis)satisfaction
with life and (dis)satisfaction in specific domains of life. The results suggest
that rating scale format may impact on the assessment of both overall
(dis)satisfaction with life and (dis)satisfaction in different life domains, as well
as on the interrelations among all of these concepts. Such effects were
obtained with both bipolar and unipolar response scales. Moreover, this study
has confirmed that satisfaction and dissatisfaction with life show a reciprocal
relation, especially when assessed with two independent unipolar rating scales.
Our results support that one-way unipolar response scales should be preferred
to assess satisfaction and dissatisfaction with life. Linear regression analysis
was used to examine the associations between respondents’ overall
(dis)satisfaction with life and (dis)satisfaction in different life domains
(physical health, psychological well-being, social relations, leisure, financial
situation, and student life). Our results indicate that all discerned satisfaction
and dissatisfaction domains contribute significantly to overall (dis)satisfaction
with life, with psychological well-being as the strongest predictor.

Study 2 presents a structural equation modeling (SEM) approach where four
hypothesized models are evaluated to describe the interrelations between Life
Domains Ratings (LDR), Overall satisfaction with life (OSWL), Overall
dissatisfaction with life (ODWL), and Subjective Quality of Life (SQOL). A
confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) supports a six-factor model of LDR
comprising physical health, psychological well-being, social relations, leisure,
financial situation, and student life. Further, this study indicates that the factor
loadings are affected by the type of response format used for the
(dis)satisfaction ratings. Our results also indicate that the proposed models of
overall satisfaction with life (OSWL), overall dissatisfaction with life (ODWL)
and subjective quality of life (SQOL) fit the data well. As in the previous
study, again, psychological well-being was found to be the strongest predictor

Study 3 investigates whether the results in studies 1 and 2 can be reproduced
using the same scales in a new sample. Our results confirm the findings in the
previous studies. Moreover, testing for multiple group invariance of the
hypothesized models confirms the cross-validity for all four studied models of