Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1587–1608 | Cite as

Bringing Life to Mind: A Qualitative and Quantitative Approach to Identifying the Information Used in Life Satisfaction Judgements

  • Charlie LeaEmail author
  • Andrew K. MacLeod
Research Paper


Despite a prevalence of well-being research there has been general lack of interest in the information that respondents actually bring to mind whilst they consider their well-being. The aim of the present studies was two-fold: (1) to use a unique methodology to provide an “in progress” account of the life satisfaction judgement process; (2) to use an inductive, qualitative analysis to ground the findings in the data, rather than using an a priori coding scheme based on existing literature. Participants (N = 54, aged 24–68 years) thought-aloud their responses to each item of the satisfaction with life scale (Diener et al. in J Personal Assess 49(1):71–75., 1985) and their consideration of a better and worse life. Thirteen code categories were identified with Relationships with Others, Job, and Feelings being the most prevalent and Material Possessions and Contribution-to-the-World the least common. The validity of the code categories was verified in a larger, second study. The present studies identified a broader array of categories compared to previous, similar research and provided support for the consistent use of certain information. Importantly these studies contribute a coding scheme that will enable future research to more consistently examine the information used in well-being judgements.


Life satisfaction judgements Life domains Satisfaction with life Thinking aloud Inductive analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Social SciencesUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRoyal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK

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