Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research

2014 Edition
| Editors: Alex C. Michalos


  • Ruut VeenhovenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_554



Contentment is the degree to which one perceives one’s wants are being met. It involves a cognitive judgment in which perceptions of life as it is are compared with notions of how life should be. This estimate of success in meeting wants figures in the overall evaluation of one’s life. In this context it is referred to as the “cognitive component” of happiness.


The term “contentment” is often used as a synonym for “happiness” and is then used to denote our subjective satisfaction with our life as a whole. Yet the term is also used in a more specific sense for a component of happiness. This lemma is about that specific use of the word “contentment.”

When estimating how much we like the life we live, we tend to use two more or less distinct sources of information: our affects and our thoughts. One can observe that one feels fine most of the time and one can also judge that...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Brickman, P., & Campbell, D. T. (1971). Hedonic relativism and planning the good society. In M. H. Appley (Ed.), Adaptation level theory (pp. 287–302). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human Lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David & W. R. Melvin (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Kilpatric, F. P., & Cantril, H. (1960). Self-anchoring scaling: A measure of individuals’ unique reality worlds. Journal of Individual Psychology, 6, 158–173.Google Scholar
  4. Michalos, A. C. (1985). Multiple discrepancies theory. Social Indicators Research, 16, 347–413.Google Scholar
  5. Rayo, L., & Becker, G. S. (2007). Evolutionary efficiency of happiness. Journal of Political Economics, 155, 302–337.Google Scholar
  6. Veenhoven, R. (1984). Conditions of happiness. Dordrecht/The Netherlands: Reidel (now Springer Press).Google Scholar
  7. Veenhoven, R. (2009). How do we assess how happy we are? In A. Dutt & B. Radcliff (Eds.), Happiness, economics and politics (pp. 54–69). New York: Edward Elger Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Veenhoven, R. (2012a). Measures of happiness, World Database of Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands. Available at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/hap_quer/hqi_fp.php
  9. Veenhoven, R. (2012b). Happiness in nations, World Database of Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands. Available at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/hap_nat/nat_fp.php?mode=1

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation, Erasmus University RotterdamPotchefstroomThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Optentia Research Group, North–West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth-Africa