Beyond life satisfaction: Qualitative and quantitative approaches to judgments about the quality of life
- G. J. Westerhof, F. Dittmann-Kohli, T. Thissen
- Social Indicators Research
Research on subjective well-being has focused mainly on positive values and goals. This article studies the structure and content of life problems from a theory of personal meaning as well as the relation of these problems to subjective well-being. Data from the German Aging Survey, a representative sample of German citizens (40–85 year; n=2844) were used. A content analysis of life problems was carried out as expressed on a sentence completion instrument which elicits descriptions of self and life. Although outweighed by positive sentence completions, a substantial part of the sentence completions had a negative tone. Problems in life could be reliably coded as cognitive, motivational, or affective problems on specific and global levels. They were found in a large number of life domains, such as self, health, social relations, and society at large. Specific and global problems in each of the three components showed independent and differentiated contributions to subjective well-being. These findings stress the relevance of studying life problems.