Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It focuses on topics like happiness, strengths, well-being and fulfillment. Surveys and questionnaires are useful tools for measuring different aspects of the human experience from a positive psychology perspective.
The Satisfaction with Life Scale
The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a short 5-item scale designed to measure global life satisfaction. Participants rate items like “In most ways my life is close to ideal” on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Higher scores reflect greater life satisfaction.
The Gratitude Questionnaire
The Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6) is a 6-item measure of the disposition to experience gratitude. Items include statements like “I have so much in life to be thankful for” which participants rate on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Higher scores reflect a greater dispositional level of gratitude.
The Meaning in Life Questionnaire
The Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) is a 10-item measure of meaning in life. It consists of two 5-item subscales—Presence of Meaning and Search for Meaning. Participants rate the personal truth of statements on a scale from 1 (absolutely untrue) to 7 (absolutely true). Higher scores on the Presence subscale reflect having meaning, while higher scores on the Search subscale reflect seeking meaning.
The PERMA Profiler
The PERMA Profiler is a 15-item scale designed to measure the five pillars of Martin Seligman’s well-being theory: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA). Participants rate items like “To what extent do you receive help and support from others when you need it?” on an 11-point scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely). Higher scores reflect greater well-being.
The Compassion Scale
The Compassion Scale is designed to measure compassionate feelings, attitudes and behaviors towards others and oneself. The scale has 24 items which participants rate on a scale from 1 (almost never) to 5 (almost always). Sample items include “When others feel sadness, I try to comfort them” and “I tend to feel distressed when others around me seem to be struggling.” Higher scores reflect higher levels of dispositional compassion.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is positive psychology?
Positive psychology is the study of happiness, well-being and fulfillment. It focuses on strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
What types of tools do positive psychologists use?
Positive psychologists design questionnaires, surveys, assessments and measures to quantify subjective aspects of the human experience like life satisfaction, hope, meaning and resilience.
What does life satisfaction mean?
Life satisfaction refers to a conscious cognitive judgment that one’s life and living circumstances are favorable and align with one’s expectations and values.
What does it mean to have meaning in life?
Meaning refers to having a sense of purpose, value and significance in one’s existence. It stems from serving and belonging to something greater than oneself.
How can I learn more about positive psychology?
To learn more, visit the websites of organizations like the International Positive Psychology Association or the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.