Given trends toward studying positive mental health in the behavioral sciences, the concepts of vitality, well-being, and quality of life (QoL) have received significant attention. Unfortunately, interpreting their empirical findings and applications is difficult given a tendency to use these terms synonymously and/or without clear apriori definitions.
This review presents an in-depth, critical examination of vitality, well-being, and QoL (especially health-related QoL) while paying particular attention to their similarities and differences. Given the proliferation of studies in the area of physical activity psychology, this review draws from a collection of knowledge in the physical activity domain to provide readers with concrete examples and to support arguments that are raised.
The narrative content is divided into 3 sections with critical appraisals of each: definitions and meaning, theoretical views, and research, the latter of which is further subdivided into measurement and findings. Several parallels and discrepancies between the constructs are brought forward.
Important arguments, among others, include the precision or specificity of the definition of vitality compared with well-being and QoL, and the emergence of a spectrum along which these constructs can be aligned with regards to the breadth of internal and external experiences they capture.
Guérin is with the Dept of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.