Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Happy = (justifiably) busy!

Prof Christopher K Hsee has found that we like to be busy. But only if we have a reason. Whether that reason is valid, or not.

Volunteers completed a survey. Then they had to wait 15 minutes before a second survey.

They could return the first survey nearby and wait, or go further, which kept them busy for the 15 minutes.

Those who kept busy were found to be happier than those who chose to be idle.

Not all people picked the busy option. Some preferred to remain idle. But Prof Hsee found a way to make more people happy (aka busy).

He tweaked a reward. If the same candy was the reward at both sites, you got more idle people, as there was no justification for going to the distant site.

But when different candies were offered at near and far sites, more people chose the far site than before. There was now a justification to go to the far site.

And it didn’t matter which candy was offered near or far. Swap the candies and people still justified the trip.

Make people happy. Keep them busy. Make it seem like there is a reason, any reason, even if the activity serves no purpose.

Justifiably busy people are happier. Even if the justification doesn’t hold up.


August 1, 2010 - Posted by | Activity, Christopher K Hsee, Fun, Positive Psychology, Success

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