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Study: Unhappy people watch more TV

From the news: An extensive new research study has found that unhappy people watch more TV while those consider themselves happy spend more time reading and socializing.

The University of Maryland analyzed 34 years of data collected from more than 45,000 participants and found that watching TV might make you feel good in the short term but is more likely to lead to overall unhappiness.

"The pattern for daily TV use is particularly dramatic, with 'not happy' people estimating over 30% more TV hours per day than 'very happy' people," the study says. "Television viewing is a pleasurable enough activity with no lasting benefit, and it pushes aside time spent in other activities -- ones that might be less immediately pleasurable, but that would provide long-term benefits in one's condition. In other words, TV does cause people to be less happy."

The study, published in the December issue of Social Indicators Research, analyzed data from thousands of people who recorded their daily activities in diaries over the course of several decades. Researchers found that activities such as sex, reading and socializing correlated with the highest levels of overall happiness.

Watching TV, on the other hand, was the only activity that had a direct correlation with unhappiness. "TV is not judgmental nor difficult, so people with few social skills or resources for other activities can engage in it," says the study. "Furthermore, chronic unhappiness can be socially and personally debilitating and can interfere with work and most social and personal activities, but even the unhappiest people can click a remote and be passively entertained by a TV.

In other words, the causal order is reversed for people who watch television; unhappiness leads to television viewing." Unhappily married couples also watch more TV: "(Happily married couples) engage in 30% more sex, and they attend religious services more and read newspapers on more days," reports the study. "While those not happy with their marriages watch more TV." Yet there may be good news here for broadcasters.

Commenting on the study, co-author John P. Robinson said the worsening economy could boost TV viewing. "Through good and bad economic times, our diary studies, have consistently found that work is the major activity correlate of higher TV viewing hours," Robinson says. "As people have progressively more time on their hands, viewing hours increase." Concludes the study: "These points have parallels with addiction; since addictive activities produce momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret. People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged, with TV becoming an opiate."

My comment: The big question is if unhappiness attracts television or the opposite? It's a big mistake to say TV is not judgemental, because it always offers models for personal style, life style and appearance that are impossible to follow. It's like telling you that you are never good enough and there is not a chance ever to be. On the other hand it doesn't really offer something to make you happy, I mean spiritual tools, life and personal improvement or generally something useful. And if it does an unhappy person doesn't even looks at them, because they are looking for a pill to make them feel better this moment and not a way to feel better permanently.

But this pill has a lot of side effects. It works as another addiction, between food, sweets, smoke or alcohol.


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