Adjusting for Scale-Use Heterogeneity in Self-Reported Well-Being

Daniel J Benjamin, Kristen Cooper, Ori Heffetz, Miles S Kimball, Jiannan Zhou

Research output: Working paper/preprintWorking paper


Analyses of self-reported-well-being (SWB) survey data may be confounded if people use response scales differently. We use calibration questions, designed to have the same objective answer across respondents, to measure dimensional (i.e., specific to an SWB dimension) and general (i.e., common across questions) scale-use heterogeneity. In a sample of ~3,350 MTurkers, we find substantial such heterogeneity that is correlated with demographics. We develop a theoretical framework and econometric approaches to quantify and adjust for this heterogeneity. We apply our new estimators in several standard SWB applications. Adjusting for general-scale-use heterogeneity changes results in some cases.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, Mass
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameNBER working paper series
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research
Volumeno. w31728

Bibliographical note

September 2023.


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