Oxford Happiness Questionnaire

by Dr. Steve Wright

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University. Take a few moments to take the survey. This is a good way to get a snapshot of your current level of happiness. You can even use your score to compare to your happiness level at some point in the future by taking the survey again. If you are using some of the interventions presented on this site to raise your happiness level, you can see whether your score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire goes up as a result.

Instructions

Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

Please read the statements carefully, because some are phrased positively and others negatively. Don’t take too long over individual questions; there are no “right” or “wrong” answers (and no trick questions). The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult, please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.

The Questionnaire

1. I don’t feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____

2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____

3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____

4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____

5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____

6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____

7. I find most things amusing. _____

8. I am always committed and involved. _____

9. Life is good. _____

10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____

11. I laugh a lot. _____

12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____

13. I don’t think I look attractive. (R) _____

14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____

15. I am very happy. _____

16. I find beauty in some things. _____

17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____

18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____

19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____

20. I feel able to take anything on. _____

21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____

22. I often experience joy and elation. _____

23. I don’t find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____

24. I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____

25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____

26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____

27. I don’t have fun with other people. (R) _____

28. I don’t feel particularly healthy. (R) _____

29. I don’t have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____

Calculate your score

Step 1. Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:

If you gave yourself a “1,” cross it out and change it to a “6.”
Change “2″ to a “5″
Change “3″ to a “4″
Change “4″ to a “3″
Change “5″ to a “2″
Change “6″ to a “1″

Step 2. Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)

Step 3. Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.

I recommend you record your score and the date. Then you’ll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date. This can be especially helpful if you are trying some of the exercises, and actively working on increasing your happiness.

UPDATE: A lot of people have been asking for some kind of interpretation of the raw number “happiness score” you get in step 3 above. What follows is just off the top of my head, but it’s based in part on the fact that the average person gets a score of about 4.

INTERPRETATION OF SCORE

I suggest you read all the entries below regardless of what score you got, because I think there’s valuable information here for everyone.

1-2 : Not happy. If you answered honestly and got a very low score, you’re probably seeing yourself and your situation as worse than it really is. I recommend taking the Depression Symptoms test (CES-D Questionnaire) at the University of Pennsylvania’s “Authentic Happiness” Testing Center. You’ll have to register, but this is beneficial because there are a lot of good tests there and you can re-take them later and compare your scores.

2-3 : Somewhat unhappy. Try some of the exercises on this site like the Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists, or the Gratitude Visit; or take a look at the “Authentic Happiness” site mentioned immediately above.

3-4 : Not particularly happy or unhappy. A score of 3.5 would be an exact numerical average of happy and unhappy responses. Some of the exercises mentioned just above have been tested in scientific studies and have been shown to make people lastingly happier.

4 : Somewhat happy or moderately happy. Satisfied. This is what the average person scores.

4-5 : Rather happy; pretty happy. Check other score ranges for some of my suggestions.

5-6 : Very happy. Being happy has more benefits than just feeling good. It’s correlated with benefits like health, better marriages, and attaining your goals. Check back – I’ll be writing a post about this topic soon.

6 : Too happy. Yes, you read that right. Recent research seems to show that there’s an optimal level of happiness for things like doing well at work or school, or for being healthy, and that being “too happy” may be associated with lower levels of such things.

Reference

Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1073–1082.

I’ve used “don’t” rather than the more staid and formal “do not” in the phrasing of the questions above; I decided to give preference to my own sense of what is more natural and conversational in American English. (Remember that the questionnaire was developed in England.) I’ve also added the phrase “(find time for),” which psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky uses for clarification in question 18.

Note: Michael Argyle died in 2002. If you would like to contact Peter Hills, you can email him at p_r_hills “AT” hotmail “DOT” com (seems to be outdated) or contact him by telephone/fax in the UK: Tel.: +44-1235-521-077; fax: +44-1235-520-067.

There is a problem with the comments below. None of the early comments are showing up since an upgrade a few days ago. Here’s one example, a comment from me:

Dr. Steve Wright says:

The highest score you can get on an item is a 6, and the lowest a 1. If you add up all your scores and divide by the number of questions (29 questions), you’d get an average score for all the questions. The highest possible average would be 6, the lowest possible would be 1. Right in the middle would be 3.5, so you might think that’s what the average person would get, but this is just a raw score. In fact, other studies show that people are generally somewhat happy on average. So it may not be surprising to hear that the average score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire is right around a 4, which is essentially what you got (since you got 3.9 out of 6).

Rather than compare yourself to other people, it’s probably more meaningful to compare your score now to your score later, and see if there’s a change. Some of the exercises on this site have been shown in scientific studies to make a lasting, positive impact on happiness. You might want to try some of them (I’ll be adding more), and see if they work for you. A few gratitude exercises are already on the site:

*Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists

*Gratitude Visit

 
Written by Dr. Steve Wright on October 17th, 2008

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82 Comments so far ↓

  1. Arvind Ramanujam says:

    Hello Dr.Steve,

    Thanks for the questionnaire. I scored 3.8 and I guess it means I’m as happy as an average person. Presently, I’m recovering from depression. The result matches my own experiential perception of my happiness state. I intend to keep track of my progress with the help of the questionnaire. Thanks once again for the free service.

  2. Yiasemina Ioannidou says:

    Hi,

    I tried to e-mail Peter Hills in order to get a permission to use the questionnaire but the e-mail delivery failed. Is there an alternative address I could use?

  3. Yes, I had the same experience when I tried to email Peter Hills. I’m afraid I don’t have any other contact information. I will try a couple other avenues and will post the results here, but please check back because I may not be able to do it (or get results) right away.

  4. Mississauga says:

    I am from Mississauga, Ontario (right next to Toronto)and I got 2.5. Funny, multiply that by ten and you have my age. I would have scored lower except for some strange reason I can laugh at things even when I feel bad. I have borderline personality disorder and an eating disorder. I will have to take this test again, I am going to the hospital soon for my ED and would like to see how it changes when I am done.

  5. Simon says:

    OK I got 3.86

    But the question has got to be, what made me search for such a test, something is surely not right if I’m asking myself if I’m happy or not?

    But at least I’ve found out I’m happier than I thought, and when I’m not considering the level of my happiness, I’m sure it will be higher!

    Good times are coming, and for you too, if you give it time, even if you got a low score :-)

  6. Janhavi says:

    Hello Babar,

    I just read your comment. I’m also studying the influence of Locus of Control on Happiness. I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about your research, the scales you used, etc.

    Thanks,

    Janhavi

  7. Christian says:

    Hmm, I scored 1.5, but I’m absolutely not surprised about this outcome.
    And I’m also aware that I have to do something about it. So, just another affirmation, but nevertheless thanks for publishing this short questionnaire.
    Cheers,
    Chris

  8. Connie says:

    I got a 5.34 and I think that fits for me, I am a super happy person. My motto is to Live a more balanced and joyful life. Whenever I am feeling a little down, I make myself a gratitude list to see what wonderful things I actually have going for me and that puts everything else into perspective (a positive one!).

  9. lou says:

    Well I got a 2.89 so I guess It could be worse. The main question is, HOW do you become happier? There’s loads of books on the subject that harp on and on but none tell actually answer the question you really want answered, HOW.

  10. There are a lot of books, and many of the ones written in recent years are by experts who back up their ideas with empirical research. Naturally they want to give some background on how we know what we know, and most of them are good at making that part interesting. But most of them also make a point of telling you HOW to be happier.

    Tal Ben-Shahar, professor for the most popular class at Harvard, wrote the book Happier, and subtitled it “Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.” There are exercises throughout the book that tell you exactly what to do.

    University of California professor Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, specifically as a how-to guide to becoming happier. Check out my blog entry about it.

    And Martin Seligman, founder of the modern positive psychology movement, gives you lots of tools to improve your approach to your life satisfaction, including specific interventions like the gratitude visit in his book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.

  11. Angelia2041 says:

    Hi Dr. Steve, Thanks for the questionnaire and explanation. I got 4.1.

    And i know i can change my old habits and i hope to be a more open and sociable, happy and confident person. Certainly, life is sometimes out of control. It’s not easy to find my targeted career, and a more stable and meaningful life. I guess that’s why the aged person can be happier than the young according to Wikipedia info. From this list, i got to know how to change in some ways — healthier, happier. Thank you.

  12. Ingrid says:

    I’m curious, Dr. Steve ~ what is your score?

  13. Dkross says:

    I scored 2.2Θ. Sad but true.:-D

  14. Ingrid,

    I took the questionnaire myself and scored pretty high on happiness, but I don’t remember the exact number. I looked for it since you asked, but apparently I didn’t write it down. I plan to take it again when I have a chance, and I’ll post my score here after I do.

  15. siva says:

    dear doc…
    I’m impressed with this kind questionnaire… am searching for something to help my friends be happier in the workplace… it would be appreciated if you can give me any ideas on it as an eye opener.
    regards, siva.

  16. anthony says:

    Aristotle writes about happiness in the nichomachaen ethics i think; jill, you might be interested.

  17. Debra says:

    THAT GAVE ME A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. ALSO HAPPY THAT MY 3.72 MEANS (FOR ME) THAT I’M ABOUT AVERAGE. EVEN THAT IS ENCOURAGING AT THIS MOMENT!

  18. Betim says:

    The results that I got from this questionnaire matched with my state of happiness that I believe I currently have, which is good.

    One thing that I noticed is that individual questions are highly correlated with the overall happiness, so the answers may be biased towards achieving the state of happiness that he/she believes he/she has.

    I am not sure if there are questionnaires that are more complex, so that the subject can’t predict how individual answers affect the overall result. A pessimistic or optimistic subject can predict the target result based on individual questions, and in this way the answers may be tweaked so that the target result is achieved.

  19. Betim, you raise a couple of good points.

    Can people’s actual level of happiness be different from the level of happiness they think they have? Or is the person him/herself the best judge of his/her own internal state of happiness? Is happiness the same as subjective well-being? I think most psychologists are not ready to try to draw these distinctions. At the very least, they would be hesitant at this point to assert that we had the means to do so with any scientific rigor at present. So currently a questionnaire like this that asks questions straightforwardly and somewhat transparently (and expects that people will just answer simply and honestly) serves its purpose.

    I have conducted research using questionnaires that took a more complex and indirect approach, just as you suggest, i.e., the Sense of Community Index based on Hogge’s lens model. But in that case the underlying theoretical model was explicitly more complex, Sense of Community being theorized as consisting of four discrete elements. When the questions are intended simply to combine to get at a single scalar construct without such complications, each question’s being highly correlated with that construct is not inappropriate.

  20. MIC THO says:

    A friend asked me to send him some comments on how to be happy. To do this I needed two things: 1) his definition of happiness, and 2) to see if my idea of how happy I am would match this test score. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us. Mickey

  21. hanna says:

    hello sir,

    your response was very appreciated by me….
    its ok if u don’t have an interpretation,
    but i want to thank you for the efforts you made in responding to my mail and comment.

    i had already consulted my adviser about that problem, and fortunately we found a way to interpret the scores.
    thanks also for the info of validity and reliability.
    these are all appreciated by us sir.

    thank you very much,,,
    more power to you sir…

    hanna

  22. Yesim Jensen says:

    Dear Sir Wright,

    I found your test very interesting, for today I got 3.1379 :)
    I have intention to follow your page.

    Thanks.

    Yesim

  23. Rachael White says:

    I got 4.65 :) yaaaay!! I guess my life is going pretty well lol, Love and Hugs Xx

  24. Kerry says:

    Came here through Wikipedia. I usually feel pretty “content” or unhappy, but I actually felt myself being kind of proud of myself while going through your questions… like it was dawning on me that I’m really not all that unhappy. Your test actually made me feel happier.

    I didn’t score extremely high, but I’m pretty happy that I’m not a depressed “loser” that sometimes I think I am. Really weird how this self-image can be proven wrong when one actually thinks about the actual circumstances.

    Anyway, I’m in a dark period of my life right now. I know full well in the past I wouldn’t even be on this page (I’ve been unquestionably happy in the past… then again, maybe I wasn’t!).

  25. Em says:

    I got a 2.3 which is better than a one I suppose.
    I thought you were my professor because his name is Dr. Steve Wright as well. Eerie.

  26. [Here's another early comment I made (on August 17, 2009) which isn't being displayed above right now because of a glitch:]

    Jill, you’ve raise some important issues. Right in the middle of them is the basic question “What is happiness?”

    After thinking about it awhile, I’ve realized this is a better topic for its own blog entry (or even a journal article) than a quick response here.

    But let me mention one point. There seem to be two main meanings of happiness. One is happiness as a transitory emotion, a feeling. There are researchers who seem to think this is all there is, and would define a happy life as nothing more than a series of emotionally “up” moments.

    Another meaning has a stronger cognitive component, and involves memory and evaluation. When a mother says her children have been her joy in life, or when a guy with a melancholy or crabby disposition looks back with great satisfaction and says his life was wonderful and that he’s happy, do we disbelieve them?

    Researchers have not yet come to an agreement about this dichotomy. They’re still quite a ways from being able to shed much light on most of the big questions. What’s really known scientifically advances slowly.

    In the meantime, reflect, meditate, be mindful, search your heart for what’s really important, and live life to the fullest.

  27. Jessica says:

    This was very interesting. I scored a 4.9 which I feel is about accurate for me. And I’m happy with the results, actually. I do feel that I’m a happy person. Not too happy, but overall happy and content.

  28. Daisy says:

    Like a few other people I found through my scores that I wasn’t as unhappy as I perceived (I scored 3.6, pretty average), which amazed me because I have felt so down in the dumps for months, that I was worried I was depressed (but of course too down to be diagnosed).
    This rather simple questionnaire has shown me that there is still a bit of the happy old me still in there. Now that I feel it still there, I can use the suggested techniques to be that happy, fulfilled person again.
    Thank you Dr Steve Wright

  29. Robyn Bebop says:

    I scored 4.034 which made me a little happy ; ) but did not surprise me. I have had lots of ups and downs, death, divorce, depression, dependence, disease (that last one was actually pretty good – a large brain tumor which, once dug out of my cranium – made me feel MUCH better and also proved how many people cared about me! heh!) I had a whole new outlook on life too. Bad things can be good in the end y’know. I have a loving family – that is very important. I also get anger out of my system, not let it linger and fester..I just have my own little freak out and vent like mad and expel the bad feelings. My hubby listens & helps with advice and still loves me. I also LOVE to have a huge laugh (usually at my own expense) and that is better than anything! I was very down at a few points but there is a way out and hang in there if you feel bummed out, people. Get some help…it’s true you can be happy again. Love, Robyn

  30. monik says:

    I got 3.62. That means I am a little bit more happy than I believed until now. Thanks for this quiz.

  31. ward says:

    Dr. Steve,
    I felt “unsatisfied” in general. I googled “happiness” expecting to see the usual dribble of the web. I was pleasantly surprised by your little test and my resulting score of 3.37. Actually made me “feel” better. Your site does not seem to be copyrighted. Would you grant me permission to add a link and/or banner from my site to your site?
    Ward

  32. I’m happy this page was beneficial to you.

    1. There is a copyright notice in the bottom right corner of each page (in small print). It of course doesn’t apply to the questionnaire itself (which was designed by Michael Argyle and Peter Hills) or to other material I’m quoting on other pages throughout the site.

    2. I would like to make this material available to, and helpful to, as many people as possible, so I’m happy to approve – and would appreciate – your adding a link and/or banner from your site to my site.

    3. Another good resource besides this test and some of the other material on this site is another site run by the people at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. They have quite a few related psychological tests you can take online: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/questionnaires.aspx

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