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Oxford Happiness Questionnaire 1

INTERNAL CONSISTENCY RELIABILITY AND TEMPORAL STABILITY OF

THE OXFORD HAPPINESS QUESTIONNAIRE SHORT-FORM: TEST-RETEST

DATA OVER TWO WEEKS1

SHARON MARY CRUISE

CHRISTOPHER ALAN LEWIS1

University of Ulster at Magee College, Northern Ireland

CONOR MC GUCKIN

Dublin Business School of Arts, Republic of Ireland

Running head: Oxford Happiness Questionnaire

Key words: Happiness, positive psychology, internal consistency reliability, temporal

stability.

1
Address correspondence to Dr Christopher Alan Lewis, School of Psychology,

University of Ulster at Magee College, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK, BT48 7JL.

Phone: 0044 (0)28 71375320; Fax: 0044 (0)28 71375493; Email: ca.lewis@ulster.ac.uk
Oxford Happiness Questionnaire 2

INTERNAL CONSISTENCY RELIABILITY AND TEMPORAL STABILITY OF

THE OXFORD HAPPINESS QUESTIONNAIRE SHORT-FORM: TEST-RETEST

DATA OVER TWO WEEKS


Oxford Happiness Questionnaire 3

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form is a recently developed eight-item

measure of happiness. This study evaluated the internal consistency reliability and test-

retest reliability of the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form among 55 Northern

Irish undergraduate university students who completed the measure on two occasions

separated by two weeks. Internal consistency of the measure on both occasions was

satisfactory at both Time 1 (alpha = .62) and Time 2 (alpha = .58). Stability across the

two administrations was satisfactory (r = .69), and there was no significant change

between Time 1 (M = 34.5, SD = 5.4) and Time 2 (M = 34.6, SD = 5.2). These data

support the internal consistency reliability and short-term test-retest reliability of the

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form.


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Over the last twenty-five years there has been growing interest in positive

psychology (Aspinwall & Staudinger, 2003; Linley & Joseph, 2004; Peterson &

Seligman, 2004; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), including the measurement and

correlates of happiness (Argyle, 1987). At the centre of this work has been a number of

multi-item self-report measures (Snyder & Lopez, 2001), including the Bradburn Affect

Balance Scale (Bradburn, 1969), the Memorial University of Newfoundland Scale of

Happiness (Kozma & Stones, 1978, 1980), the Short Happiness and Affect Research 

Protocol (Stones, Kozma, Hirdes, & Gold, 1996), the Subjective Happiness Scale

(Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999), the Depression-Happiness Scale (Joseph & Lewis, 1998;

McGreal & Joseph, 1993), and the short Depression-Happiness Scale (Joseph, Linley,

Harwood, Lewis, & McCollam, 2004). Arguably the most widely used measure of

happiness is the 29-item Oxford Happiness Inventory (Argyle, Martin, & Crossland,

1989; Francis, 1999).

Recently however, in an attempt to improve the psychometric performance of the 

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Hills and Argyle (2002) have developed the Oxford 

Happiness Questionnaire (different method of scoring, and reversing of approximately 

half the items). Hills and Argyle (2002) also introduced an eight-item short-form of the

scale, intended to be a replacement for the full version when administration time is short.

Hills and Argyle (2002) provided initial evidence for the psychometric properties of both

the 29-item and the eight-item measures. Moreover, both versions of the measure have

demonstrated validity with measures of happiness, personality, self-esteem, satisfaction,


Oxford Happiness Questionnaire 5

life orientation, and life regard (Hills & Argyle, 2002), and measures of religiosity

(Lewis, Maltby, & Day, 2005).

To date, no information on the internal consistency reliability or test-retest

reliability of this measure has been reported. The present aim was to evaluate the two-

week test-retest reliability of the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form among a

sample of Northern Irish university students.

METHOD

SAMPLE

Fifty-five students (9 male and 46 female) with a mean age of 23.9 years (SD =

6.3), all in attendance at the University of Ulster at Magee College, Londonderry,

Northern Ireland, enrolled on a course in psychology, were employed as respondents.

MEASURE

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form is concerned with measuring

personal happiness, a sample question being ‘I feel that life is very rewarding’ (Item 3). It

is scored on a six-point Likert scale ranging from ‘agree strongly’ (1) to ‘disagree

strongly’ (6). Three items are reversed scored. Scores range from 8 to 48, with higher

scores on the scale indicating a greater level of happiness.

PROCEDURE

The short-form was completed during class-time on two occasions separated by a

period of two weeks as part of a practical class. Participants recorded their names and age

but were assured of confidentiality, and participation was voluntary. None of the class
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declined to participate, and no credit was given for completing the questionnaires on

either occasion. The participants were not informed that the measure would be

readministered.

RESULTS

Scores on the scale for Time 1 and Time 2 were significantly associated (r

= .69). No significant difference was found in the mean scores (t = -.192, df = 54,

ns) between Time 1 (M = 34.5, SD = 5.4, range = 24 – 45) and Time 2 (M = 34.6,

SD = 5.2, range = 19 – 45). Levels of internal consistency reliability (Cronbach,

1951) for the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form at both testing periods

were acceptable for an eight-item measure (Time 1: alpha = .62; Time 2: alpha

= .58). For example, Loewenthal (1996) suggests that a reliability of .6 may be

considered acceptable for scales with less than ten items. An examination of

corrected item-total correlations at both testing periods indicated that exclusion of

Item 8 of the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form would raise reliabilities

at both times: Time 1 (alpha = .7) and Time 2 (alpha = .64).

DISCUSSION

The present data provides satisfactory evidence for both the internal consistency

reliability and the test-retest reliability over a two-week period of the Oxford Happiness

Questionnaire short-form among a sample of Northern Irish university students. Although

these findings are limited due to the small sample size, the selectivity of the sample (i.e.,

university students, mainly female), and the small length of the testing period, the Oxford
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Happiness Questionnaire short-form appears temporally stable. These findings provide

additional psychometric evidence that attest to the validity of the measure (see Hills &

Argyle, 2002). Further research is however required to examine the stability of the

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire short-form among larger and more representative

samples and over longer testing periods.

REFERENCES

Argyle, M. (1987). The psychology of happiness. London: Routledge.

Argyle, M., Martin, M., & Crossland, J. (1989). Happiness as a function of personality

and social encounters. In J. P. Forgas & J. M. Innes (Eds), Recent advances in

social psychology: An international perspective, (pp. 189-203). North Holland:

Elsevier Science Publishers.

Aspinwall, L. G., & Staudinger, U. M. (2003). A psychology of human strengths:

Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology.

Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bradburn, N. M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Oxford: Aldine.

Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests.

Psychometrika, 16, 297-334.

Francis, L. J. (1999). Happiness is a thing called stable extraversion: A further

examination of the relationship between the Oxford Happiness Inventory and

Eysenck’s dimensional model of personality and gender. Personality and

Individual Differences, 26, 5-11.


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Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: A compact scale for

the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual

Differences, 33, 1071-1082.

Joseph, S., & Lewis, C. A. (1998). The Depression-Happiness Scale: Reliability and

validity of a bipolar self-report scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54, 537-544.

Joseph, S., Linley, P. A., Harwood, J., Lewis, C. A., & McCollam, P. (2004). Rapid

assessment of well-being: The short Depression-Happiness Scale (SDHS).

Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 77, 463-478.

Kozma, A., & Stones, M. J. (1978). Some research issues and findings in the study of

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Kozma, A., & Stones, M. J. (1980). The measurement of happiness: Development of the

Memorial University of Newfoundland Scale of Happiness (MUNSH). Journal of

Gerontology, 35, 906-912.

Lewis, C. A., Maltby, J., & Day, L. (2005). Religious orientation, religious coping and

happiness among UK adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1193-

1202.

Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive psychology in practice. New York: John

Wiley & Sons.

Loewenthal, K. M. (1996). An introduction to psychological tests and scales. London:

UCL Press Limited.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary

reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46, 137-155.


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McGreal, R., & Joseph, S. (1993). The Depression-Happiness Scale. Psychological

Reports, 73, 1279-1282.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook

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York: Oxford University Press.

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An

introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.

Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. (2001). Handbook of positive psychology. New York: Oxford

University Press.

Stones, M. J., Kozma, A., Hirdes, J., & Gold, D. (1996). Short Happiness and Affect 

Research Protocol (SHARP). Social Indicators Research, 37, 75­91.