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The present review examines the definitions of quality of life (QoL) which have developed over the past 3 decades and which reflect the increased awareness of the need to take into account individuals' own perceptions of their life. The concept of satisfaction is frequently used as an important subjective variable in QoL studies, despite the evidence of stability of satisfaction over individuals and over time, which suggests that it should be a measure insensitive to change. This evidence is examined and the idea of such stability being an adaptive psychological mechanism is considered. The use of satisfaction as a measure of QoL in people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) is discussed. The methodological difficulties encountered in assessing the subjective experiences of people with IDs are also discussed. Finally, it is argued that there is a strong argument for the abandonment of measures of QoL in general, and subjective ones in particular, for people with IDs. An alternative approach is suggested.