i’m just saying, is all…

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.”

More here!


  1. The OTHER Maria says

    Hi Greg!

    What I found interesting is the correlation between TV viewing and the health of the economy… I am wondering what they’re using as the other “demographic predictors” of happiness, tho. :)

  2. says

    I’m not sure you can determine a cause and effect in this. There seems to be a “chicken and egg” element. To misquote John Cusack’s character in “High Fidelity”: Do people watch TV because they are depressed, or are they depressed because they watch too much TV?

  3. MaggieCat says

    Greg, that was my first question when I heard about this. I have to say that it seems more likely to me that people who are already depressed are watching tv, since a lack of ability to focus is one of the major symptoms and would make reading troublesome and socializing is clearly less likely, rather than tv depressing people.

    Unless they were watching Big Brother, in which case hopelessness and despair is the rational response.

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