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Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's Driving Life Evaluation Higher?

Americans are more positive about their lives than they have been at any time in the past two years, according to our Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data.

The metric in question -- the Life Evaluation Index -- incorporates how Americans rate their lives today and what they expect their lives to be like in five years. Here's the data since we began tracking this two years ago:


So, the question we're all asking ourselves is: what is driving this higher? Our well-being data from 2009 found five of the six other sub-indexes in the Well-Being Index down from 2008. Only life evaluation improved. And it improved enough to offset the declines in the five other areas combined. And now we have a new high in January 2010.

Here are the exact questions we ask, based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale:

Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top.
The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time? On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now?


Do you have an explanation for this increase in life evaluation, despite all of the challenges facing the U.S. today? How would you answer this question?

4 comments:

xcaucasus said...
February 13, 2010 at 12:59 AM  

My guess is that people have absorbed the bad news, and readjusted expectations, and find that retrenching also brings new comforts. But curious to hear more about your analysis on this.

LK said...
February 13, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

Very interesting. What is the age breakdown? How are Baby Boomers feeling?

Lymari Morales said...
February 15, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

Great idea, LK. We'll look at life evaluation by age to see if we learn anything there.

Maethalion said...
February 25, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

What does "Worst Possible Life for You" mean? It seems subjective. As we're struggling with unemployment, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, etc. I think people's "zero" is getting lower - i.e. where they once compared themselves to loosing a job, now they compare themselves to being in an earthquake or living in a dictatorship like Iran.

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