Children’s Perspectives on Scale Response Options of Subjective Well-Being Measures: A Comparison between Numerical and Verbal-Response Formats

Abstract

It is crucial to establish the validity of existing measures of children’s subjective well-being (SWB) for use within specific contexts. Two important measurement issues that implicate the validly of SWB scales are ‘question framing’ and ‘response options’. Fundamental to the latter is the concept of scale granularity, which refers to the number of response options imposed on a scale. However, the majority of studies on the topic have used adult and not child samples. The overarching aim of the study was to explore how children from three different contexts (Catalonia, Cape Town and North-Western Romania) perceive, understand, and make sense of SWB instruments, using focus group interviews and thematic analysis. A key finding of the study was the similarities in children’s understandings of the response options across these contexts. While this does not represent a claim for a ‘universal understanding’ of measurement scale response formats, it is suggesting that there are similar cognitive processes that children across the contexts apply when making sense of and deciding on which response option to endorse (for both verbal and numerical formats). Another key finding is the unique perspective on the process of how children make sense of the scale declarative statement in relation to these response options, and the life aspects they draw on for the final endorsement. Future studies should endeavour to focus on a range of different contexts and cohorts of children and include various types of measurement scales and response options.

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Correspondence to Carme Montserrat.

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Montserrat, C., Savahl, S., Adams, S. et al. Children’s Perspectives on Scale Response Options of Subjective Well-Being Measures: A Comparison between Numerical and Verbal-Response Formats. Child Ind Res 14, 53–75 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-020-09748-2

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Keywords

  • Scale granularity
  • Children’s subjective well-being measures
  • Focus group interviews
  • Thematic analysis
  • Child participation