The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWL)

This measure is for adultsThis is a free measure

The SWL measures self-perceptions of individual life satisfaction, correlated with mental health, subjective quality of life, and likelihood to attempt suicide. Individuals respond to five items a 7-point Likert scale.  It has been used in studies of emotional regulation in several schools (Quoidbach et al., 2010. This test has high internal consistency and test-retest correlations (Pavot & Diener, 2008). It is available in multiple languages. The article “Wellâ€ÂBeing Assessment: An Evaluation of Wellâ€ÂBeing Scales for Public Health and Population Estimates of Wellâ€ÂBeing Among US Adults” compares it to national norms, providing several charts with the mean scores across demographic groups to help individuals contextualize their wellbeing scores. For example, figures show that men Ages 18-24 have a mean score of 3.5. Thus an individual in this demographic with a score of  3.8 would be lightly above average. The website includes more information and articles on this and other scales.

“The scale is copyrighted but you are free to use it without permission or charge by all professionals (researchers and practitioners) as long as you give credit to the authors of the scale: Ed Diener, Robert A. Emmons, Randy J. Larsen and Sharon Griffin as noted in the 1985 article in the Journal of Personality Assessment” (

Pros for Schools

Cons for Schools

Available in multiple languages
Article cited above provides national norms to contextualize scores

Possibly too short for a robust understanding of individual wellbeing (5-items)

Suggestions for Further Research

Diener. Website.

Kobau, R., Sniezek, J., Zack, M. M., Lucas, R. E., & Burns, A. (2010). Wellâ€Âbeing assessment: An evaluation of wellâ€Âbeing scales for public health and population estimates of wellâ€Âbeing among US adults. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 2(3), 272-297. 

MIDSS. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWL). Measurement Instrument Database for the Social Sciences   

Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2008). The Satisfaction With Life Scale and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3(2), 137-152.

Quoidbach, J., Berry, E., & Hansenne, M. & Mikolajczak, M. (2010). Positive emotion regulation and well-being: Comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 368-373.


CC BY-NC: This work is released under a CC BY-NC license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you (1) properly attribute it and (2) do not use it for commercial gain.

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