Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 939–959 | Cite as

Understanding Satisfaction: An Analysis of the Meaning Potential of the Word “Satisfaction” in Everyday Norwegian Language

  • Erik CarlquistEmail author
  • Hilde E. Nafstad
  • Rolv M. Blakar
Research Paper


Satisfaction with life is often considered to be a component of or a synonym for subjective well-being. However, the meaning of “satisfaction” is rarely discussed in the scientific literature. The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning potential of the Norwegian term for satisfaction (tilfredshet). A conceptual analysis was conducted based on the qualitative responses of 276 Norwegian adults to the question “What is satisfaction for you?” Based on principles of thematic analysis, text data units were examined to develop a framework of recurrent themes and superordinate categories. The analysis demonstrated that the word “satisfaction” in everyday Norwegian language does not unequivocally point toward a unitary, clear-cut affective or evaluative phenomenon. Instead, its meaning potential was found to include material, physiological and interpersonal conditions, activities, internal psychological states, and circumstances and contexts of well-being, connected by temporal and causal assumptions. In addition to hedonic understandings, eudaimonic and processual conceptualizations of satisfaction were identified. Findings support a conceptual co-existence of satisfaction as satisficing (conditions evaluated as good enough) and as more optimal fulfilment (conditions evaluated as good). Further qualitative studies of conceptual understanding across cultural contexts and languages are recommended.


Satisfaction Concept Meaning potential Qualitative analysis Language 



We would like to thank Hilde Breck, André de Brisis and Agnete Falck Revdal for their invaluable help in collecting and registering data for this study. Funding was provided by University of Oslo.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Carlquist
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hilde E. Nafstad
    • 1
  • Rolv M. Blakar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OsloBlindern, OsloNorway

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