Well-being vocabulary in media language: An analysis of changing word usage in Norwegian newspapers

Well-being is a widely discussed topic in research, policy, and media.


This study was aimed at examining usage patterns of core terminology related to well-being in Norwegian newspapers during the past two decades. Specifically, we investigated occurrence across time of 39 words describing well-being facets from four theoretical perspectives: affective approaches, cognitive or life satisfaction approaches, eudaimonic and humanistic approaches, and character strengths. Four major newspapers were selected in order to capture sociocultural and regional variation. Evidence of significant changes in usage frequency was detected for about half of the search terms. Affective words showed variable trends, while usage of words referring to satisfaction declined. The most notable magnitude of change concerned the increase in eudaimonic words related to mastery, motivation, and self-development. Findings suggest that core vocabulary of well-being belongs to a changeable field of linguistic practice. Implications for positive psychology are proposed.

The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2016, doi:10.1080/17439760.2016.1163411.

Published June 6, 2016 7:00 AM - Last modified Nov. 29, 2016 9:59 AM