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Paradox: We Are Lazy, But We Don't Like Sitting Around

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by The Scarlet Pimp, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Feeling like crap? Maybe this will help you to sort out why...


    We're Happier When Busy, But Our Instinct Is For Idleness

    Forced to wait for fifteen minutes at the airport luggage carousel leaves many of us miserable and irritated. Yet if we'd spent the same waiting time walking to the carousel we'd be far happier.

    That's according to Christopher Hsee and colleagues, who say we're happier when busy but that unfortunately our instinct is for idleness. Unless we have a reason for being active we choose to do nothing - an evolutionary vestige that ensures we conserve energy.

    Consider Hsee's first study. His team offered 98 students a choice between delivering a completed questionnaire to a location that was a 15-minute round-trip walk away, or delivering it just outside the room and then waiting 15 minutes. A twist was that either the same or different types of chocolate snack bar were offered as a reward at the two locations.

    If the same snack bar was offered at both locations then the majority (68 per cent) of students chose the lazy option, delivering the questionnaire just outside the room. By contrast, if a different (black vs. white) bar was offered at each location then the majority (59 per cent) chose the far away 'busy' option.

    This was the case even though earlier research showed both snack bar options were equally appealing, and even though the location of the two snack bar types was counterbalanced across participants. In other words, Hsee said, the students' instinct was for idleness, but when they were given a specious excuse for walking further, most of them took the busy option.

    Crucially, when asked afterwards, the students who'd taken the walk reported feeling significantly happier than the idle students, consistent with Hsee's theory that we're happier when busy (a repeat of the study in which students were allocated without choice to the idle or busy condition led to the same outcome - the busier students felt happier).

    In a variant of this first study, students asked to evaluate a bracelet had the option of either spending fifteen minutes waiting time sitting idle or spending the same time disassembling the bracelet and rebuilding it.

    Those given the option of rebuilding it into its original configuration largely chose to sit idle - consistent with our having an instinct for idleness.

    By contrast, those told they could re-assemble the bracelet into a second, equally attractive and useful design tended to take up the challenge - again, an excuse, however superficial, for activity seems to be all it takes to spur us on.

    As before, those who spent the fifteen minutes busy subsequently reported feeling happier than those who sat idle.

    Given that being busy makes us happier but that our instinct is for idleness, Hsee's team say there is a case for encouraging what they call 'futile busyness,' that is: 'busyness serving no purpose other than to prevent idleness. Such activity is more realistic than constructive busyness and less evil than destructive busyness.'

    The researchers proceed to argue that, unfortunately, most people will not be tempted by futile busyness, so there's a paternalistic case for governments and organizations tricking us into more activity: 'housekeepers may increase the happiness of their idle housekeepers by letting in some mice and prompting the housekeepers to clean up.

    Governments may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.' In fact, according to Hsee's team, such interventions already exist, with some airports having deliberately increased the walk to the luggage carousel so as to reduce the time passengers spend waiting idly for luggage to arrive.

    http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2010/07/were-happier-when-busy-but-our-instinct.html
     
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  2. DamnTees

    DamnTees Junior Member

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    Interesting this also applies to energy states of atoms
     
  3. tacopalypse

    tacopalypse Executive VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    fascinating ಠ_ಠ

    so long story short, evolution's optimized us for survival, not happiness, and the two paths apparently point in opposite directions.

    seems true enough. back when i had a job, i always wanted to have the freedom to just be able to do nothing all day. now that IM's made that possible, i can say that doing jack shit every day is pretty good for the first few weeks, but then it just gets really boring really fast.

    definitely do feel happier when i'm being productive, but like the article said, we're all naturally inclined to just be lazy, especially when self-employed :p

    /rambling ;)
     
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  4. Rhazha

    Rhazha Junior Member

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    Maybe the other way around would've sounded somewhat "more" accurate...

    Paradox: We Don't Like Sitting Around, But We Are Lazy!
    (Especially when we can):D



    P.S.By the way, It's a very good article, thanks.
     
  5. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    We Dislike Being Idle, Yet We Are Lazy By Nature :umbrella:
     
  6. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    try sitting around all day in front of a tv, or just lying in bed. i absolutely cannot do either.

    retirement is actually lethal, the body wasn't made to sit around doing nothing.