A lifestyle is a set of values and beliefs that define an individual’s way of life. It is usually based on the pursuit of personal interests, such as hobbies or sports, as well as social fulfilment, such as friendships and relationships. It can also be influenced by a person’s status within their community and other groups such as family, work, profession and cultures. The concept of lifestyle is increasingly popular in the business world, with marketers trying to use it as a tool to build brand loyalty and increase customer retention.
The term ‘lifestyle’ was first used in sociology to describe a collective pattern of behaviour, but has since been adopted by other disciplines. It has a wide definition in psychology, but is often viewed as an individual behavioural choice that can have both positive and negative health implications. The concept is widely used in the media, advertising and marketing, as well as being a research topic for many academics and health professionals.
Theories that emphasise the internal dimension of lifestyle focus on a person’s unique personality and character, as well as their preferences, motivations, and expectations. This type of approach is closely related to individual psychology and was introduced by Adler. The internal dimensions of an individual’s lifestyle are a result of their experiences and upbringing, which have shaped their personalities and influenced the way in which they act and perceive the world around them.
In contrast, theories that emphasise the external dimension of lifestyle consider a person’s actions and behaviours as a reflection of their social position in a given sociocultural-economic context. These models are of sociological origin and can be differentiated from each other based on the main focus: the social positioning for Weber’s models, the focus on practices and behaviours for Bourdieau’s models, and the emphasis on practice and behaviour for the general model of Genova and Berzano [38, 44].
A common understanding of the term is that a person’s lifestyle includes all the activities they partake in on a daily basis including their eating habits, social interactions, fashion and health. This can include habits like smoking, recreational drug use, or excessive alcohol consumption. It can also encompass a person’s social and cultural context, for example their ethnicity or gender, as well as their beliefs and values.
In the field of health, the concept of a lifestyle is usually seen as an individual’s choice of healthy or unhealthy behaviours, and it can be influenced by educational campaigns aimed at changing these habits. However, critical health psychology offers a different perspective, where the lifestyle is considered to be part of the bio-psycho-social environment and where health promotion interventions are developed with this in mind.