Understanding the Concept of Lifestyle


The concept of lifestyle is one of the most widely debated in the psychological and sociological literature. However, its varying meanings often confuse and mislead researchers. This paper reviews the main explicit definitions of this construct in the literature and tries to categorise their content by defining three interpretative keys: internal, external and temporal. This will enable us to gain a clearer understanding of the nature of this construct, allowing us to develop more precise theoretical and research perspectives.

Lifestyle is the way a person combines their behavioural choices, reflected in their patterns of consumption, leisure activities and social relations. It also reflects a person’s attitudes, values and worldview.

People choose a particular lifestyle in order to satisfy certain needs and desires, such as a desire for recognition, status, self-gratification or self-realisation. They decide on specific ways to fulfil these needs by modifying their behaviour in the form of choice, consumption, entertainment and dress. They also have a particular approach to food, drink, health, work and religion.

The lifestyles people choose are determined by a number of factors, such as the culture they belong to, their economic position in society, family and other personal relationships, their education, political or religious engagement, interests and expectations. In addition, they are affected by their physical health, their state of mind and a host of other variables.

In earlier studies, the lifestyle was regarded as an element of the personality, a type of psychic imprint that characterised each individual and was formed by the interaction between their external surroundings and their internalised beliefs, opinions, attitudes and emotions. The external surroundings were represented by the social environment that they lived in, while the internal factors were expressed as behavioural choices and behaviours (habits).

Another perspective was to consider lifestyle as an aspect of the individual’s relationship with their environment. This involved analysing the specific characteristics of an individual’s environment, such as their geographical location and climatic conditions, and their cultural and historical context. This approach viewed lifestyle as an expression of the individual’s unique sensitivity and creativity.

A third way of understanding lifestyle was to analyse the dynamic elements of a society. This was based on the idea that people’s lifestyles shifted as they were influenced by new ideas, social forces and trends. In this way, they were part of a constant struggle to maintain their status in the face of changing and developing environments.

Today, the lifestyle concept is used in many different fields of knowledge. It is defined in different ways by researchers from a variety of disciplines and, even more importantly, is associated with a wide range of research methods. In health psychology, this concept is used to describe the way a person lives their life and combines it with their beliefs, values, goals, choices, priorities and patterns of behaviour. These include the way a person spends their free time and how they are entertained, the food they eat and the use of drugs and alcohol.