Beyond Satisfaction and Happiness Scales: The Socioemotional Well-Being Index (SEWBI)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Hörsaal 12 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Eduardo BERICAT, University of Seville, Spain
Social scientists have been studying happiness for more than thirty years, but most of all this empirical research has been carried out using the simplest models of measurement, that is, satisfaction and happiness scales. From 1984 on, two pioneers, psychologist Ed Diener, and sociologist Ruut Veenhoven, together with many others social researchers have been making very significant contributions to the advancement of the scientific study of happiness. However, it is evident the need for a substantial improvement of the models with which we are estimating nowadays the happiness of the people.

To improve the scientific study of happiness we need to go beyond these simple, direct, and univariable measures and create new multidimensional models. The most promising way to improve the models for measuring happiness is to return to the origins and follow the path initiated by Norman M. Bradburn with his work, published in 1969, The Structure of Psychological Well-Being. This approach considers that happiness or unhappiness is a meta-emotion, which emerges from the specific but complex affective structures that individuals experience in their everyday lives.

The Socioemotional Well-Being Index (SEWBI) is a composite indicator which assumes a purely socio-relational and hedonic approach of happiness, and that offers an indirect estimation of its level by taking into account the frequency with which the interviewees have felt ten different emotional states during the last two weeks. The conceptual definition of the index is based on Thomas Kemper’s social interactional theory of emotions and on Randall Collins’ theory of interaction ritual. This measurement model of happiness is composed of 4 dimensions and 10 emotional states, and it has been created applying Factor Common Analysis (FCA).

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness (CSO/201235032)