Bringing life to mind: a qualitative and quantitative approach to identifying the information used in life satisfaction judgements

Charlotte Lea, Andrew MacLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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 to 68 years) thought-aloud their responses to each item of the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2018


Bibliographical note

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Happiness Studies. The final authenticated version is available online at:


  • life satisfaction judgements
  • life domains
  • satisfaction with life
  • Thinking Aloud
  • inductive analysis

Cite this