Self-Evaluation Processes in Life Satisfaction: Uncovering Measurement Non-Equivalence and Age-Related Differences

Heike Heidemeier*, Ursula M. Staudinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrates how self-evaluation processes explain subgroup differences in ratings of life satisfaction (population heterogeneity). Life domains differ with regard to the constraints they impose on beliefs in internal control. We hypothesized that these differences are linked with cognitive biases in ratings of life satisfaction. In fact, two subgroups of respondents needed to be distinguished, for which life satisfaction scores were non-equivalent measures. Self-evaluation processes also helped to explain age-related differences in life satisfaction. Age was unrelated or positively related to life satisfaction in a subgroup of respondents who perceived comparatively high levels of control over high-constraining life domains such as work, income, and standard of living. However, age yielded a substantial negative relationship with life satisfaction among participants who reported reduced levels of control in these domains. Results from a German representative sample were replicated with data from an online survey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-61
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive bias
  • Life satisfaction
  • Mixed Rasch model
  • Population heterogeneity
  • Self-evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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