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Recent Abstracts

Cantril's Self-Anchoring Ladder

Name of Questionnaire

Cantril's Self-Anchoring Ladder


A measurement technique that asks people to rate their present, past, and anticipated future satisfaction with life on a scale anchored by their own identified values.


H Cantril


Not available.


Not available.

Cost & availability

No cost


Self, interviewer

Time to complete

5 minutes

Number of items

One "ladder" for each question of interest. For example, subjects could be asked to rate life quality now, how it was one year ago, and how it is anticipated to be one year in the future. Each would be rated on a seperate ladder.

Domains & categories (#)


Name of categories/domains

Overall life satisfaction

Scaling of items

A ladder with steps numbered 0 through 10. Each subject defines the extremes for him/herself. In the case of life satisfaction or life quality, the subject is asked to describe the best possible life quality s/he can imagine for the top of the ladder, and the worst possible life quality imaginable for the zero point on the ladder.


Single scale score for each ladder/question.


a. Test-retest/reproducibility: Not reported
b. Internal consistency: Not applicable to single-item scale


Content validity is determined each time someone uses the technique by how they decide what questions to ask. Construct validity demonstrated through correlations with the Functional Performance Inventory and with FPI spiritual activities and social activities subscales1.


Not reported.

Research Use

Outcome variable in test of a theoretical model of life satisfaction in COPD and coronary artery disease1. Used to test construct validity of the Functional Performance Inventory.

Clinical Use

Not reported.


Original: English

Translations: Danish, Finnish, French, Dutch, Italian, Portugese, Swedish, Thai


    1. Brown JS, Rawlinson ME, Hilles NC. Life satisfaction and chronic disease: Exploration of a theoretical model. Med Care 1981;29:1136-1146.
    2. Cantril H. The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1965.

      Date of information

      March 1999

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