Study: Channeling Unhappiness, In Good and Bad Economic Times
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as “very happy” spend more time reading and socializing. The study appears in the December issue of the journal Social Indicators Research.
Analyzing 30-years worth of national data from time use studies and a continuing series of social attitude surveys, the Maryland researchers report that spending time watching television may contribute to viewers’ happiness in the moment, with less positive effects in the long run.
“TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,” says University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author and a pioneer in time use studies. “It’s more passive and may provide escape – especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.”