The differences between response scales in number and wording of response options make it hard to compare data from survey research and to perform research syntheses. A recent method that we have developed to tackle this problem is rooted in the idea that the transition points on a bounded continuum, on which verbal response options from a primary scale transit from one point to another, for instance from ‘happy’ to ‘very happy’, remain unchanged over time. The idea behind this is that although people may change their perception of, for example, their own happiness intensity over time, they are assumed not to change the degree of appreciation they attribute to the terms used to label response options. This is an important assumption for research syntheses that requires that everything remains unchanged, except for the change of interest. It means that if our method is applied to measurements at distinct points in time, differences in estimates of the mean and standard deviation can be attributed solely to changes in the frequency distributions on the primary scale. In this paper we apply the method to happiness and show that it is reasonable to assume that the transition points between the response options are stable over time.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Beta distribution, Comparability, Reference distribution, Research synthesis, Scale transformation, Verbal response scales
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0735-2, hdl.handle.net/1765/101624
Journal Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement
Citation
DeJonge, T, Kalmijn, W.M, Veenhoven, R, & Arends, L.R. (2015). Stability of Boundaries Between Response Options of Response Scales: Does ‘Very Happy’ Remain Equally Happy over the Years?. Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement, 123(1), 241–266. doi:10.1007/s11205-014-0735-2