The Conceptualisation of Lifestyle in Psychological and Sociological Fields

A lifestyle is a general way of living, including work, leisure and home routines. It also includes a person’s values, interests and beliefs. A person’s lifestyle can be affected by their environment, genetic predisposition and health status. It can also be influenced by social and cultural forces. A person’s lifestyle can affect their physical and mental health. The lifestyle of a person can be changed by adopting healthy habits and by avoiding unhealthy ones.The concept of lifestyle has become an important topic in many fields, such as psychology and sociology. In health psychology, the concept of lifestyle is often used to describe an individual’s overall pattern of behaviour. Nevertheless, the definition and conceptualisation of the term “lifestyle” vary widely in different psychological and sociological literatures. This article will review the main models and theories on lifestyle in the psychological and sociological fields, analysing them from an internal dimension, an external dimension and a temporal perspective.In the field of psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler defined a lifestyle as a style of personality, in which the framework of guiding values and principles that individuals develop during their first years of life end up defining a system of judgement that will guide their decisions and behaviour throughout their lives. Later, this concept was elaborated in the work of Milton Rokeach, Arnold Mitchell and Lynn R. Kahle, who interpreted lifestyles as profiles of values organised hierarchically and to which specific population sectors correspond.Other researchers interpreted the term as a type of identity or a self-image, based on which an individual shapes their everyday life (Johansson and Miegel Citation1992). Others, such as Johansson and Miegel, have differentiated upon three societal levels in order to interpret lifestyles: a world consumer class level, a positional level and an individual level.At the global level, consumers are accused of consuming too much and depleting natural resources and energy. At the positional level, the lifestyle of a person is analysed in terms of the group to which they belong and the subculture within that particular group. At the individual level, lifestyle is considered to be a mix of personal characteristics and habits.In the field of sociomedical research, there is a tendency to focus on unhealthy lifestyles as a cause or risk factor for disease and to propose educational campaigns aimed at changing these behaviours. This approach to lifestyle is typical of the risk society, which identifies healthy behaviour as behaviours that reduce the exposure to “risk factors”. However, in critical health psychology, the vision of a healthy lifestyle has been broadened by considering it as a meaningful lifestyle and not just as a collection of behavioural patterns. In this way, a healthy lifestyle should be seen as a continuous exchange and repositioning between the subject and the environment. This is called a bio-psycho-social model of health.