The validity of the life satisfaction measures commonly used among adults has been rarely examined in adolescent samples. The present research had two main goals: (1) to evaluate the structural validity of the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) among adolescents and to test measurement invariance across gender; (2) to compare the criterion and convergent validity of the SWLS and single-item life satisfaction measures among adolescents.
Three samples of Serbian adolescents were recruited for the present research. Study 1 (N = 481, M age = 17.01 years) examined the structure of the SWLS via confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and evaluated measurement invariance of the SWLS across gender by a multi-group CFA. Study 2 (N = 283, M age = 17.34 years) and Study 3 (N = 220, M age = 16.73 years) compared the convergent validity of the SWLS and single-item life satisfaction measures.
The results of Study 1 supported the original one-factor model of the SWLS among adolescents and provided evidence for strong measurement invariance of the SWLS across gender. The findings of Study 2 and Study 3 showed that the SWLS and single-item measures were equally valid and strongly associated (r = .734 in Study 2 and r = .668 in Study 3). No substantial differences in correlations with school success and well-being indicators were found between the SWLS and single-item measures.
Our findings support the use of the SWLS among adolescents and indicate that single-item life satisfaction measures perform as well as the SWLS in adolescent samples.