A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Exploration of Feeling Joyful

Priyanka Chauhan, Dawn Leeming, Nigel King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses our use of a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology to explore the lived experience of feeling joyful. Semi-structured interviews were used to discuss two contrasting experiences of joy for each participant. Analysis was informed by van Manen’s human science method, facilitated by King’s template analysis. Our findings suggest that joy was a profoundly meaningful sense of positivity. Sometimes this feeling was fleeting, at other times it was described as a longer lasting experience. Regardless of duration, joy involved a desire to relinquish control which could be expressed as a freedom of movement, and could be enabled by the security that significant others provided. We discuss our findings in relation to distinctions previously drawn in the literature between happiness and joy and argue that, despite differences
in experiences, the participants’ accounts support an understanding of joy as a meaningful and social phenomenon which, though often unexpected, requires intentional engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99–106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


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