December 2, 2004


What Makes People Happy? TV, Study Says (BENEDICT CAREY, 12/02/04, NY Times)

A team of psychologists and economists is reporting today what many Americans know but don't always admit, especially to social scientists: that watching TV is a very enjoyable way to pass the time, and that taking care of children - bless their young hearts - is often about as much fun as housework.

The findings, published in the journal Science, run contrary to previous research and to conventional wisdom about what makes people happy and why, and suggest that the fundamental realities of money, marriage, and job security have far less to do with daily moods than factors like deadlines on the job and sleep quality. [...]

The study, of 909 women living in Texas, found that in general, the group woke up a little grumpy but soon entered a state of mild pleasure that increased by degrees through the day, punctuated by occasional bouts of anxiety, frustration, and anger. Predictably, they found that commuting, housework, and facing a boss rated as the least pleasant activities, while sex, socializing with friends and relaxing were most enjoyable.

Yet contrary to previous research on daily moods, the study found that the women rated TV-watching high on the list, ahead of shopping and talking on the phone, and ranked taking care of children low, below cooking and not far above housework.

Of course other people, especially kids, are a pain in the butt--why did they think that Social Welfare states became so atomized and infertile as soon as folks had the State to offer them secure existences from cradle to grave?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 2, 2004 8:29 PM

People used to overestimate how much time they spent with their kids because they were embarassed about how much time they spent watching tv. Now, they overestimate how much time they spend watching tv because they are embarassed about how much time they spend online.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 2, 2004 10:26 PM

I was heading into a restaurant with my wife and toddler, who was calling out to me, "Daddy, Daddy!" An older fellow, staring wistfully, sighed, "Awww, it's been so long since I've heard that." I had to restrain myself from saying, "You wanna cure that nostalgia, buddy? You eat with her."

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at December 2, 2004 10:59 PM

Well, no hockey, so the only thing left is Ironside reruns. That show is must see T.V.

When I was born, the first present I received was from Raymond Burr's mother, who lived down the street (she was divorced). Funny how his shows have always been my favorite.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 3, 2004 4:15 AM

Randall, can you remember what you got?

Posted by: AllenS at December 3, 2004 6:18 AM

I was a newborn, but I think it was a small teddy bear that I completely wore out from love and attention.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 3, 2004 10:20 AM

Another study stating the blinkin' obvious.

(News Flash! Study shows that annoyances annoy! Film at 11:00!)

Posted by: Mikey at December 3, 2004 11:01 AM

"... as soon as folks had the State to offer them secure existences from cradle to grave?"

Who needs the state? Most of us are well enough off to ensure secure existence all the way to the grave out of our own resources.

Social Security reform would make that even more prevalent.

Posted by: at December 3, 2004 11:10 AM