The Short-Term Stability of Life Satisfaction Judgments

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Abstract

Life satisfaction judgments are thought to reflect people’s overall evaluation of the quality of their lives as a whole. Because the circumstances of these lives typically do not change very quickly, life satisfaction judgments should be relatively stable over time. However, some evidence suggests that these judgments can be easily manipulated, which leads to low stability even over very short intervals. The current study uses a unique data set that includes multiple assessments of life satisfaction over both long (up to 4 years) and short (over the course of a single interview) intervals to assess whether information that is made salient during the course of an interview affects life satisfaction judgments at the end of the interview. Results suggest that this intervening information has only small effects on the final judgment and that placement within an interview has little influence on the judgment that people provide.

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