Life satisfaction is the way in which people show their emotions and
feelings(moods) and how they feel about their directions and options
for the future. It is a measure of well-being and may be assessed
in terms of mood, satisfaction with relations with others and with
achieved goals, self-concepts, and self-perceived ability to cope with
daily life. It is having a favorable attitude of one's life rather
than an assessment of current feelings.
Life satisfaction has been
measured in relation to economic standing, amount of education,
experiences, and residence, as well as many other topics.
Life satisfaction can also be attributed more specifically to the way
in which we interact and relate with others. It is common that people
who are better connected with others feel a higher level of life
satisfaction over those who do not.
Life satisfaction is a key part of subjective wellbeing (SWB).
1 Factors affecting life satisfaction
1.3 Outlook on life
1.5 Life events and experiences
1.6 Seasonal effects
2 Positive benefits of considering life satisfaction
3 Use in subjective wellbeing (SWB) and happiness economics
4 See also
6 External links
Factors affecting life satisfaction
One of the most studied concepts of personality is the big five factor
model. This model illustrates what these researchers believed to be
the building blocks of individuals personality. The model deals with
dimensions of openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion,
agreeableness, and neuroticism. In a research carried out by Deneve
and Cooper in 1998, multiple studies were analyzed and certain
personality questionnaires that linked subjective well-being (SWB) and
personality measures. They found that neuroticism was the strongest
predictor of life satisfaction.
Neuroticism is linked as well to
people who have difficulty making up their mind, and is also common in
people who suffer from mental illness. The personality factor
'openness to experience' is also correlated equally to life
satisfaction although in a positive way. Amongst other personality
traits chronotype has been consequently related to life satisfaction;
morning-oriented people (larks) showed higher life satisfaction than
evening-oriented individuals (owls).
Being a person who is seen to socialize more with others can
contribute to someone’s overall well being. Social support via
others has been shown to have an impact on the well being of adults
through its effect on the overall health of those individuals.
Therefor, people who tend to communicate, and who are considered to be
more open to others would have a higher-level of life satisfaction.
Heritability has been shown to have an effect on how one is ranked in
terms of life-satisfaction. Heritability plays a role in the
personality of any given person, along with their individual
experiences. And Heritability can influence life satisfaction to some
degree. This study found that there were no individual differences
between males in females in terms of the heritability of
life-satisfaction, however the personality elements that were affected
by heritability did seem to have an effect on their overall
It has been further suggested that being able to independently deal
with negative emotions can influence long-term life-satisfaction.
Having the personality capable of properly dealing with emotions like
anger, angst, or hate can be beneficial when dealing with similar
things later in life. People who are more easy-going tend to deal with
their negative emotions differently than someone who is up-tight.
These individual differences can influence the way they deal with
problems in the present and can be conditioned to how they could
possibly deal with similar situations in the future.
Factors on how somebody sees themselves can be influenced by many
Personality is a clue figuring out how different
people react in different situations. Situations dictate personality
and vice versa, and these aspects determine how people function. Life
satisfaction is no different. Many different variables play important
roles in determining how someone values their life.
help illuminate possible answers for questions regarding the reason
someone acts a specific way, this in turn can help predict their view
on their life as a whole.
The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a single scale that is used
by UNESCO, the CIA, the New
Economics Foundation, the WHO, the
Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the
UNHDR to measure how one views his or her self-esteem, well-being and
overall happiness with life. Previous modeling showed that
positive views and life satisfaction were completely mediated by the
concept of self-esteem, together with the different ways in which
ideas and events are perceived by people. Several studies found that
self-esteem plays a definite role in influencing life satisfaction.
There is also a homeostatic model that supports these findings.
Outlook on life
A person's mood and outlook on life can also influence their
perception of their own life satisfaction. There are two kinds of
emotions that may influence how people perceive their lives.
optimism both consist of cognitive processes that are usually oriented
towards the reaching of goals and the perception of those goals.
Additionally, optimism is linked to higher life satisfaction, whereas
pessimism is related to symptoms in depression.
According to Seligman, the happier people are, the less they focus on
the negative aspects of their lives. Happier people also have a
greater tendency to like other people, which promotes a happier
environment. This correlates to a higher level of the person's
satisfaction with his or her life, due to the notion that
constructiveness with others can positively influence life
satisfaction. However, others have found that life satisfaction is
compatible with profoundly negative emotional states like
Life-review therapy using Autobiographical Retrieval Practice for
older adults with depressive symptoms, in a study carried out by
Serrano JP, Latorre JM, Gatz M, and Montanes J, Department of
psychology at Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, demonstrated that,
with increased specificity of memories, individuals show decreased
depression and hopelessness and increased life satisfaction. The test
was designed to measure participants' ability to recall a specific
memory, in response to a cue word, while being timed. Thirty cue
words; including five words classified as 'positive' (e.g., funny,
lucky, passionate, happy, hopeful), five as 'negative' (unsuccessful,
unhappy, sad, abandoned, gloomy), and five as 'neutral' (work, city,
home, shoes, family); were presented orally in a fixed, alternating
order to each member of a focus group. To ensure that the participants
understood the instructions, examples were provided of both 'general'
memories (e.g., summers in the city) and 'specific' memories (e.g.,
the day I got married). For each cue word, participants were asked to
share a memory evoked by that word, of an event that should have
occurred only once, at a particular time and place, and that lasted no
longer than a day. If the person could not recall a memory within 30
seconds, then that cue instance was not counted. Two psychologists
served as raters and independently scored the responses of each
participant. Each memory was tagged either as 'specific' – if the
recalled event lasted no more than one day – or, otherwise, as
'general'. The raters were not informed regarding the hypotheses of
the study, the experimental (control) group's membership, nor the
content of the pretest or post-test.
The psychologists, Yuval Palgi and
Dov Shmotkin (2009), studied people
who were primarily in their nineties. This subject group was found to
have thought highly of their past and present. But generally, the
group thought lower of their future. These people were very satisfied
with their life up until the point they were surveyed but knew that
the end was near and so were not quite as hopeful for the future. A
large factor that was talked about in life satisfaction was
intelligence. The experiments talk of how life satisfaction grows as
people become older because they become wiser and more knowledgeable,
so they begin to see that life will be better as they grow older and
understand the important things in life more.
It has been recorded that adolescents seem to have a lower level of
life satisfaction than their older counterparts. Something about
adolescents seems to suggest a lower level of this. This could be due
to the fact that many decisions are imminent, and an adolescent could
be facing them for the first time in their life. Although many
adolescents have insecurities about many aspects of their lives,
satisfaction with friends stayed at a consistent level. This is
hypothesized to be due to the amount at one can identify with those in
their age group over other age groups. In this same study, researchers
found that satisfaction with family decreased. This could be due to
the fact that more rules and regulations are typically implemented by
parental figures, and adolescents tend to demonize those in control of
them. Also, it was found that life satisfaction in terms of sexuality
came to increase. This is because at this age many adolescents reach
sexual-maturation which can encourage them to find verification and
satisfaction in the idea of a sexual partnership.
Life events and experiences
It has been suggested that there are several factors that contribute
towards our level of life satisfaction. Experiences that are both
acute events (e.g., death of a loved one) and chronic, daily
experiences (e.g., ongoing family discord) influence self-reports of
life satisfaction. The book “Happier” by Harvard lecturer Tal
Ben-Shahar argues that happiness should be someone's ultimate goal,
the primary factor in evaluating alternative choices. As the subtitle
implies, Happier recommends for us to pursue immediate joyful
experience in ways that contributes to more long-term, meaningful
satisfaction. Furthermore, Ben-Shahar argues that pursuing genuine
self-motivated goals, rather than just instant pleasure or
selflessness in service of long delayed enjoyment, results in an
optimal combination of short- and long-term happiness.
Differences in experience can greatly shape the way that we observe
and engage with the world around us. It can influence the way we speak
to people, the way we act in public, and our general outlook. These
experiences that shape the way we think about our surroundings affect
our life-satisfaction. Someone who has the tendency to see the world
in a more negative light, may have a completely different level of
satisfaction than someone who is constantly admiring the beauty of
their surroundings. People who engage with more stress on average tend
to have higher levels of stress can contribute to higher levels of
self-report life satisfaction, as long as those who understand how to
deal with their stress in a positive way.
A recent study analyzes time-dependent rhythms in happiness comparing
life satisfaction by weekdays (weekend neurosis), days of the month
(negative effects towards the end of the month) and year with gender
and education and outlining the differences observed.
It is proposed that overall life satisfaction comes from within an
individual based on the individual's personal values and what he or
she holds important. For some it is family, for others it is love, and
for others it is money or other material items; either way, it varies
from one person to another.
Economic materialism can be considered a
value. Previous research found that materialistic individuals were
predominantly male, and that materialistic people also reported a
lower life satisfaction level than their non-materialistic
counterparts. The same is true of people who value money over
helping other people; this is because the money they have can buy them
the assets they deem valuable. Materialistic people are less
satisfied with life because they constantly want more and more
belongings, and once those belongings are obtained they lose value,
which in turn causes these people to want more belongings and the
cycle continues. If these materialistic individuals do not have enough
money to satisfy their craving for more items, they become more
dissatisfied. This has been referred to as a hedonic treadmill.
Individuals reporting a high value on traditions and religion reported
a higher level of life satisfaction. This is also true for reported
routine churchgoers and people who pray frequently. Other individuals
that reported higher levels of life satisfaction were people who
valued creativity, and people who valued respect for and from others
– two more qualities seemingly not related to material goods.
Because hard times come around and often people count on their peers
and family to help them through, it is no surprise that a higher life
satisfaction level was reported of people who had social support,
whether it be friends, family, or church. The people who personally
valued material items were found to be less satisfied overall in life
as opposed to people who attached a higher amount of value with
interpersonal relationships. accordance with the findings above,
it is also fair to say that the notion of how one values themselves
plays a part in how someone considers their own life. People who take
pride in themselves by staying mentally and physically fit have higher
levels of life satisfaction purely due to the content of their day.
These values come together in determining how somebody sees themselves
in light of others.
In persons aged 65 to 88 years, studies have shown that highly older
persons tend to increase in religiousness over the course of their
lives, those who were low in religiosity tended to report a decrease.
There is a low moderate positive relationship between religiosity and
life satisfaction. Gender may also play a role in religiousness. Women
tend to have greater religiosity; the basis may be due to biological
differences or psychological role in society. Mothers are reported
to have had the strongest pro-religious influence, although both
parents are perceived to be an important influence in religious
development of their children.
Personal religious identity is positively associated with life
satisfaction throughout the world. The association increases in size
under conditions of greater governmental regulation while the
association between participation in organized religion and
contentedness is attenuated as governance increases, then becomes
negative when government regulation reaches highs.
Studies suggest religious people are more satisfied with their lives
than the non-religious. In people who attended a religious service
weekly, many were "extremely satisfied" with their lives. According to
the American Sociological Review, religious people gain more life
satisfaction thanks to the social networking they build by attending
religious services. According to study researcher Chaeyoon Lim, a
sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, "We show that life
satisfaction is almost entirely about the social aspect of religion,
rather than the theological or spiritual aspect of religion. We found
that people are more satisfied with their lives when they go to
church, because they build a social network within their
People with more than ten friends in their congregation were reported
to almost be twice as satisfied with life as people with no friends in
their congregation. The religious propensity toward charity and
volunteerism can be connected with close church friendship, as well.
The benefits of religious social support have been found to explain
the link between attendance at religious services and life
satisfaction. As mentioned earlier, social support has been shown
to be correlated with life satisfaction. Furthermore, the willingness
to interact is also important. A religious setting provides framework
for this type of interaction to be possible. When exposed to
situations that require interaction with others, people have a higher
tendency to form bonds. Through these bonds, people will form
relationships. As shown, relationships have been shown to be effective
in improving life satisfaction. Religious settings, like churches,
mosques, or other places that people may gather, allow individuals to
interact over commonalities.
Defining culture by reference to deeply engrained societal values and
beliefs. Culture affects the subjective well-being. Well-being
includes both general life satisfaction, and the relative balance of
positive affect verses negative affect in daily life. Culture directs
the attention to different sources of information for making the life
satisfaction judgments, thus affecting subjective well-being
Individualistic cultures direct attention to inner states and feelings
(such as positive or negative affects), while in collectivistic
cultures the attention is directed to outer sources (i.e. adhering to
social norms or fulfilling one's duties). Indeed, Suh et al. (1998)
found that the correlation between life satisfaction and the
prevalence of positive affect is higher in individualistic cultures,
whereas in collectivistic cultures affect and adhering to norms are
equally important for life satisfaction.
Life satisfaction can also be looked at in a new one as influenced by
a family. Family life satisfaction is a pertinent topic as everyone's
family influences them in some way and most strive to have high levels
of satisfaction in life as well as within their own family. As
discussed by Gary L. Bowen in his article, "Family Life Satisfaction:
A Value Based Approach" he examines how family life satisfaction is
enhanced by the ability of family members to jointly realize their
family-related values in behavior (459). It is important to examine
family life satisfaction from all members of the family from a
"perceived" perspective and an "ideal" perspective. Greater life
satisfaction within a family increases through communication and
understanding each member's attitudes and perceptions. A family can
make all the difference for someone's life satisfaction.
In the article "Family System Characteristics, Parental Behaviors, and
Adolescent Life Satisfaction" by Carolyn S. Henry, adolescent life
satisfaction has much different origins than the life satisfaction of
adults. An adolescent's life satisfaction is heavily influenced by his
or her family's dynamic and characteristics. Family bonding, family
flexibility, parental support are all huge factors into the
adolescent's life satisfaction. The more bonding, flexibility, and
support there is within a family the higher the adolescent's life
satisfaction. Results of this study also revealed that adolescents
living in a single-parent family home had significantly lower life
satisfaction that adolescents in a two-parent home. An adolescent's
age is extremely important in terms of life satisfaction coming from
their family (Henry).
Family also relates to life satisfaction in a very different way: a
woman's decision to have children or not. In the "Relationship between
Information Search in the Childbearing Decision and Life Satisfaction
for Parents and Nonparents" article by Carole K. Holahan, reveals that
childless women have much higher life satisfaction than women with
children. Women who consciously decided not to have children overall
had very high life satisfaction. It was found that most of the life
satisfaction came from careers instead of children. On the other hand,
women who did have children had high life satisfaction which depended
on the reasons and decision making for having children. These are just
generalizations and life satisfaction comes from many different
sources which are unique and different for every person. Life
satisfaction can shift all the time from events, situations, family
and friend implications and many different things that all must be
taken into consideration.
On the other hand, life satisfaction is also affected by parenthood
and couples introducing children into their relationship. Research has
shown that adults with children are less happy (McLanahan & Adams
1987) due to less life satisfaction, less marital satisfaction, more
anxiety and more depression.
A satisfying career is an important component of life satisfaction.
Doing something meaningful in a productive capacity contributes to
one's feeling of life satisfaction. This notion of accomplishment is
related to a person’s drive. Need for accomplishment is an essential
part of becoming a fully functional person, and if someone feels
accomplished they would be more able to see bright sides in their
life; thus improving their life satisfaction
Internationally, the salary one earns is important – income levels
show a moderate correlation with individual evaluations of life
satisfaction. However, in developed nations, the connection is weak
and disappears for the most part when individuals earn enough money to
meet basic needs (Kahneman & Deaton 2010; Diener et all 2010;
Myers and Diener, 1995).
Positive benefits of considering life satisfaction
Life satisfaction has the ability to reflect experiences that have
influenced a person in a positive way. These experiences have the
ability to motivate people to pursue and reach their goals.
Use in subjective wellbeing (SWB) and happiness economics
Life satisfaction is part of the tripartite model of subjective
wellbeing (SWB) which is often used as a key measure in happiness
Broad measures of economic progress
Disability-adjusted life year
Full cost accounting
Gender-related Development Index
Genuine Progress Indicator
Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
Global Peace Index
Green gross domestic product
Green gross domestic product (Green GDP)
Green national product
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Well-being (GNW)
Happy Planet Index
Happy Planet Index (HPI)
Human Development Index
Human Development Index (HDI)
ISEW (Index of sustainable economic welfare)
Law of Social Cycle
Legatum Prosperity Index
Living planet index
Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
OECD Better Life Index
World Happiness Report
World Happiness Report (WHR)
World Values Survey (WVS)
Ethics of care
Human Development and Capability Association
Human Poverty Index
Progressive utilization theory
International Association for Feminist Economics
System of National Accounts
Tripartite model of subjective well-being
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