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Satisfaction With Life Scale

Satisfaction With Life Scale

What is SWLS

The SWLS is a short 5-item instrument designed to measure global cognitive judgments of satisfaction with one's life. The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) was developed to assess satisfaction with the respondent’s life as a whole. The scale does not assess satisfaction with life domains such as health or finances but allows subjects to integrate and weight these domains in whatever way they choose.

SWLS Printable PDF

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SWLS Scoring and Interpretation

Scores are calculated by assigning scores of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to the response categories of ―Strongly disagree, ―Disagree, ―Slightly disagree, ―Neither agree nor disagree, ―Slightly agree, ―Agree, and ―Strongly agree, respectively. Add the score on each item to get the total score

SWLS Score and Interpretation

Table 4
SWLS ScoreInterpretation

30 - 35

Very high score; highly satisfied

25 - 29

High score

20 - 24

Average score


Slightly below average in life satisfaction




Extremely Dissatisfied

PsyPack can automatically score the SWLS assessment and prepare corresponding tables and graphs.

SWLS sample result

Sample Report of SWLS


Subjective well-being

What does SWLS measure

The purpose of the evaluation is to:

  • measure global cognitive judgments of satisfaction with one's life,
  • measure change in subjective well-being,
  • measure intervention outcomes.



Type of outcome tool

Positive psychology

Assessment modes


Age and eligibility

13 years and above

Estimated time

About 1 minute


As is true of any self-report instrument, respondents can consciously distort their response to the scale if they are motivated to do so. For this reason, it is desirable to supplement the self-reported SWLS with assessments from external sources, such as informant SWLS or interviewer ratings, whenever possible.

The focus of the first three items of the SWLS is on a person’s current life, whereas the last two items inquire about how the person has previously been, up until the present. A discrepancy within the scores of the first three items and the last two items can reveal whether people view their lives as improving or declining.

The SWLS does not measure all aspects of Subjective Well-Being (SWB). It is a narrow-band instrument, intended to assess the cognitive rather than affective component of SWB. Although the cognitive and affective components of subjective well-being are obviously related, scores on the SWLS cannot automatically be used as direct measures of emotional well-being. Instruments with an affective focus should be included in research designs that are intended to obtain data on the broader construct of global SWB.

Attribution and References

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