Unpacking the determinants of life satisfaction: A survey experiment
- Publisher: University of Groningen, SOM research school
We present results of a survey experiment aimed at assessing context effects on subjects' reported life satisfaction, exerted by raising awareness of fundamental life domains - income, family, job, friends, sentimental relationships and health - through questionnaire manipulations. While simply presenting subjects with the list of the domains before evaluating overall life satisfaction has no effect on the distribution of life satisfaction, asking subjects to report their satisfaction with each life domain strongly affects overall evaluations. In particular, we detect a robust unpacking effect, whereby reporting satisfaction with life domains signifcantly increases the subsequent overall life satisfaction evaluations. In addition, raising awareness of life domains significantly increases precision (as it reduces the dispersion of responses) and accuracy (by increasing the association between life satisfaction and life domain evaluations) of self-reported levels of life satisfaction.