Is there a clear-cut difference between dissatisfied and unsatisfied?
The feeling connected with a lack of satisfaction can have two different components:
A sense of incompleteness, which leaves one feeling unsatisfied
A sense of wrongness, which leaves one feeling dissatisfied
Naturally, both senses may overlap in certain situations. Take the following example:
John’s father was unsatisfied by the principal’s explanation of his son’s injuries.
[He suspected that some important details were missing from the principal’s explanation.]
John’s father was dissatisfied with the principal’s explanation of his son’s injuries.
[He suspected that he was being lied to.]
If I was John’s father in this situation, I would most likely choose to describe my feeling as dissatisfaction, which would better reflect my state of active displeasure, and would also encompass both the incompleteness and the wrongness I had perceived in the principal’s explanation.
Had I merely felt that some information was missing, the result would have been a lack of satisfaction.