Key messages on survey source and introductory text

For ethical reasons, some degree of information about the survey source and its intended purpose must be clearly communicated to respondents. This, however, runs the risk that some respondents will adapt their answers to provide information they think will be most relevant and/or to communicate a message specifically to the surveyor. There are a number of good reasons why subjective well-being questions should be embedded in a larger national household survey rather than being measured separately - a key one being that it will enable the exploration of relationships between subjective well-being and other policy-relevant co-variates. A further reason is that one might expect reduced effects of survey introduction and source on subjective well-being questions if they are part of a very general and broad-ranging survey, rather than one that specifically focuses on subjective well-being.

The finding that context matters suggests that the same subjective well-being questions included in, say, a national opinion or social survey may elicit different responses than when included in a labour force survey or a survey more heavily focused on objective and economic indicators. Inclusion of a standard set of subjective well-being questions in different national survey vehicles will provide a unique opportunity to test this in the future.

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