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Life satisfaction is the way a person perceives how his or her life has been and how they feel about where it is going in the future. It is a measure of well being.

Life satisfaction has been measured in relation to socioeconomic status, amount of education, life experiences, and the people's residence as well as many other topics. Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, uses a formula for happiness that encompasses the factors that go into general happiness. The formula is H = S + C + V. In this formula H stands for a person's enduring level of happiness, S is the set range (or biological boundaries), C is the circumstances of a person's life, and V are the factors under a person's voluntary control. Each of these will be discussed in further detail.

Life Satisfaction and Personality[edit | edit source]

It is possible that life satisfaction can reflect life experiences that have affected a person in a positive way. These experiences have the ability to motivate people to pursue and reach their goals(Frisch,1999;Frischet et al.,2005).

There are two main emotions which may affect how people perceive their lives. Hope and optimism both consist of cognitive processes that are usually oriented towards the reaching of goals and the perception of those goals. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a single scale that is used to measure how one views his or her self-esteem, well-being and overall happiness with life (Diener,Sapyta,&Suh,1998).

Previous modeling showed that positive views and life satisfaction were completely mediated by the concept of self-esteem, and the different way things 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 also supports these findings (Cummins et al.2002). One's mood and outlook on life can also influence one's own perception of their life satisfaction.[1]

According to Martin Seligman Ph.D., the more happy are people, the less they are focused on the negative. They also tend to like others more, which creates an overall happiness which then leads to a satisfaction with their life at that time. "Positive emotions undo negative ones"[2]

Values[edit | edit source]

It is proposed that overall life satisfaction comes from within a person himself/herself 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 some others it is money or other material items; either way, it varies from one person to another, just as life satisfaction seems to do.

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 nonmaterialistic counterparts.[3] 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.[4] 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. On the contrary, if an individual does not hold the acquisition of wealth as a high priority, his or her personal financial state will not make a difference on how happy he or she is with life overall. 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. Conveniently, the idea of religion and church are selfless, nonmaterialistic acts, which logically concludes why the opposite effect is true of people who hold opposite values as priority. Other individuals that reported higher levels of life satisfaction were people who valued creativity, and people who valued mutual respect —two more seemingly qualities not related to material goods.[5] Because hard times come around and often times 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 temporcorrelation found that 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[6]

Life Satisfaction and Age[edit | edit source]

Life satisfaction is a widely researched topic. One of the biggest topics researched along side of this is the age of people. Lutz Goldbeck], Tim Schmitz, Tanja Besier, Peter Herschbach, Gerhard Henrich (2007) tested students from age eleven to age sixteen to see how they felt about their live]]s, as in their life satisfaction. They tested 1,274 students and found that life satisfaction tends to go down during this time. The overall scores were very low and the only thing that slightly increased was the satisfaction of partnership and sexuality but it was such a slight increase it cannot compensate for the general loss of satisfaction.[7]

Two other psychologists, Yuval Palgi and Dov Shmotkin (2009), studied the old-old. This subject group was of people who were primarily in their 90's. This group of people 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.[8]

Religion[edit | edit source]

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. Mothers are reported to have had the strongest proreligious influence, although both parents are perceived to be an important influence in religious development.

Personal religious identity is positively associated with life satisfaction throughout the world, but the association increases in size under conditions of greater governmental regulation; and the association between participation in organized religion and life satisfaction, is attenuated as government regulation increases, and becomes negative when government regulation is high.

Studies have proven that religious people are more satisfied with their lives then nonbelievers. In people who attended a religious service weekly were "extremely satisfied" with their lives. According to the American Sociological Review, religious people gain life satisfaction thanks to 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 congregation."

People with more than 10 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.

Culture[edit | edit source]

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 appraisal.

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.

See also[edit | edit source]

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  1. Bailey, T., Eng, W., Frisch, M., & Snyder, C. R. (2007). Hope and optimism as related to life satisfcation. The journal of Positive Psychology, 2(3), 168-169.
  2. Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.
  3. Kau Ah Keng, Kwon Jung, Tan Soo Jiuan and Jochen Wirtz. (2000). The Influence of Materialistic Inclination on Values, Life Satisfaction and Aspirations: An Empirical Analysis. Springer. Volume 49(3). 317-333.
  4. Georgellis, Yannis; Tsitsianis, Nicholas; Yin, Ya Ping; Personal Values as Mitigating Fators in Link Between Income and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the European Social Survey. Social Indicators Research, Vol 91(3), May, 2009. pp. 329-344.
  5. Georgellis, Yannis; Tsitsianis, Nicholas; Yin, Ya Ping; Personal Values as Mitigating Factors in Link Between Income and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from the European Social Survey. Social Indicators Research, Vol 91(3), May, 2009. pp. 329-344.
  6. Wu, C., Mei, T., & Chen, L. (2009). How do positive views maintain life satisfaction. Springer.
  7. Goldbeck, L., Schmitz, T. G., Besier, T., Herschbach, P., & Henrich, G. (2007). Life satisfaction decreases during adolescence. Quality Of Life Research: An International Journal Of Quality Of Life Aspects Of Treatment, Care & Rehabilitation, 16(6), 969-979. doi:10.1007/s11136-007-9205-5
  8. Palgi, Y., & Shmotkin, D. (2010). The predicament of time near the end of life: Time perspective trajectories of life satisfaction among the old-old. Aging & Mental Health, 14(5), 577- 586. doi:10.1080/13607860903483086
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