Does Watching TV Make You Unhappy?

2 Apr

That’s the electrifying implication of an unassuming piece today by the WSJ’s Jonathan Clements (Journal subscribers can read it here : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120709012659781613.html?mod=hps_us_editors_picks).

Citing research from Princeton’s prize-winning professor Daniel Kahneman and colleagues, the piece suggests that being actively ‘engaged’ in a variety of activities (including leisure and spiritual pursuits) is a major determinant of happiness. Moreover, of three components to ‘happiness’: how you spend your time, your basic disposition (sunny? optimistic?) and your life circumstances (age, health, income, etc.) — the choice of time spent is one over which you can exert the most control. These academics say many people spend this time in a relatively unengaged state, watching television (17% of men’s waking hours; 15% of women’s)

There’s long been a debate about the utility of time spent watching the tube. But the notion that watching television can contribute to unhappiness is step beyond simply wasting time…it will be interesting to see what happens next with this research.

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