Some studies have shown low proportions of Japanese people rating their lives as happy. However, most surveys in Japan revealed that response distributions for subjective well-being items indicated excessive blips in middle categories. In this study, participants responded to four items that were designed to detect careless or unmotivated respondents; these items instructed respondents to choose a certain response category. Of the study’s respondents, about 40% failed to follow instructions for at least one of the four items. Besides, they often chose middle categories for well-being items. When those who did not follow instructions were excluded from the complete sample, middle categories showed low or no blips, and the proportion of respondents with high rating scores increased. Thus, this study suggested that one reason for reportedly low proportions of happy people in Japan was respondents who were not diligent in reading items.
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