One of the most interesting subjects for a scientific researcher is people themselves. As the researcher is also human, he or she is in fact investigating him- or herself. If we use introspection we are able to formulate hypotheses and we can easily predict, because we have much in common with our object of research. However, it would be wrong to assume that all human beings are equal and that it is sufficient for our research to study ourselves only. We have to extend our studies by observing other individuals as well, by means of interviews, surveys, monitoring, experiments, or observation of (market) behavior.
Humankind is the subject of the social sciences; namely, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, and political sciences. Probably, the historical separation between these sciences is somewhat artificial and unfortunate. It is artificial because it is hard to argue that economics has nothing to do with sociology or psychology, or the other way round. And it is unfortunate because those artificial scientific boundaries make it difficult to make a complete study of phenomena that have economic, sociological, and psychological aspects. Evidently, this point is implicitly recognized by the creation of hybrid disciplines like 'economic psychology', 'social psychology', or 'economic anthropology', to name but a few. But these are still scientific backwaters, beyond the mainstream.
The subject of this book is satisfaction analysis. Humans evaluate many aspects of their situation. This amounts to posing the question: Am I satisfied with my job, my health, my family, the way I use my leisure time, my choice of car, my choice of breakfast jam, etc.? The obvious reason for this almost continuous monitoring of our own life is that we are always looking for the best situation. If we are dissatisfied with something, we attempt to make such changes as are possible to our conditions.
This continuous evaluation of how satisfied we are with aspects of our life has the clear objective of changing our life if we can improve our satisfaction. This change can materialize in changing one's habits, changing one's job, changing one's family situation, buying new furniture, etc. Obviously, there are situations in which we are dissatisfied but are unable to change our situation. In those cases it is very frustrating to repeat the evaluation process over and