English title: Measuring Happiness and Overall Life Satisfaction: A Danish Survey Experiment on the Impact of Language and Translation Problems

Author(s): Henrik Lolle - Jørgen Goul Andersen -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2016


The paper addresses language and translation problems in the most typical measures of happiness and overall life satisfaction in international surveys using an experimental design. In the experiment, randomly selected groups of Danish university students answered questionnaires in English and Danish, respectively. We found significant differences in the answers on both indices. As such, it was confirmed that the term “happy” is not the same in English and Danish. In Danish the word is similar to the German word “glücklich” which seems to refer to something stronger than just being “happy”. Perhaps more surprisingly, we also found a significant difference between the answers on “overall life satisfaction”, indicating that the answers given in Danish are too high as compared to the English ones. The differences are large enough to argue that such simple tests should be conducted before ranking countries in terms of these two well-established indices of subjective well-being.

Volume: 17

Issue: 4

From page no: 1337

To page no: 1350

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1007/S10902-015-9646-4

Journal: Journal of Happiness Studies

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