Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)

The SWLS is a short 5-item instrument designed to measure global cognitive judgments of satisfaction with one’s life. The scale usually requires only about one minute of a respondent’s time, where respondents answer on a Likert scale. The questions are open to interpretation, making this scale suitable for adults with a range of background. It most appropriate for use in non-clinical populations.

Validity and Reliability

Subjective well-being is conceptualised as consisting of two major components: the emotional or affective component and the judgment or cognitive component. The SWLS was designed to measure the judgment component. Diener, Emmons, Larsen and Griffith (1985) have conducted a series of validation studies showing that the SWLS has a single factor, high internal consistency, is reliable and is content appropriate for a wide range of groups.

Convergent validity was established through high correlations with other well-being measures, including the Fordyce Scale and the Giunn Scale. Additionally, the SWLS has a low correlation (.09) with measures of affect intensity, showing that it is likely to be reliable over affective states.

Scoring and Interpretation

Scores consist of a raw score (between 5 and 35). Higher scores represent higher life satisfaction. Scorers can be assigned into six well-being categories and interpretative text in provided for each.

  • 30- 35 Extremely satisfied
  • 25 – 29 Satisfied
  • 20 – 24 Slightly satisfied
  • 15 – 19 Slightly dissatisfied
  • 10 – 14 Dissatisfied
  • 5 – 9 Extremely dissatisfied


Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale.Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.


Pavot, W. G., Diener, E., Colvin, C. R., & Sandvik, E. (1991). Further validation of the Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidence for the cross-method convergence of well-being measures. Journal of Personality Assessment, 57, 149-161.