Idleness Aversion and the Need for Justifiable Busyness

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, 5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 07/2010; 21(7):926-30. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610374738
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There are many apparent reasons why people engage in activity, such as to earn money, to become famous, or to advance science. In this report, however, we suggest a potentially deeper reason: People dread idleness, yet they need a reason to be busy. Accordingly, we show in two experiments that without a justification, people choose to be idle; that even a specious justification can motivate people to be busy; and that people who are busy are happier than people who are idle. Curiously, this last effect is true even if people are forced to be busy. Our research suggests that many purported goals that people pursue may be merely justifications to keep themselves busy.

Download full-text


Available from: Adelle X. Yang, Aug 15, 2015
1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As a resource-allocation method, free competition is generally considered more efficient and fairer than binding assignment, yet individuals’ hedonic experiences in these different resource-allocation conditions are largely ignored. Using a minimalistic experimental simulation procedure, we compared participants’ hedonic experiences between a free-competition condition (in which participants could equally and freely compete for the superior resource) and a binding-assignment condition (in which the superior and inferior resources were unequally and irreversibly assigned to different participants). We found that individuals in the binding-assignment condition – even the disadvantaged ones – were happier than those in the free-competition condition. We attributed the effect to individuals’ peace of mind, and supported the peace-of-mind notion by identifying two moderators: ease of social comparison and enjoyability of the inferior resource. In sum, this research highlighted the hedonic aspects of resource allocation methods and identified when accepting one’s fate is hedonically better than fighting for the best.
    Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 11/2012; 119(2):177–186. DOI:10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.07.005 · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We examine the underlying process behind the IKEA effect, which is defined as consumers' willingness to pay more for self-created products than for identical products made by others, and explore the factors that influence both consumers' willingness to engage in self-creation and the utility that they derive from such activities. We propose that creating products fulfills consumers' psychological need to signal competence to themselves and to others, and that feelings of competence associated with self-created products lead to their increased valuation. We demonstrate that the feelings of competence that arise from assembling products mediate their increased value (Experiment 1), that affirming consumers' sense of self decreases the value they derive from their creations (Experiment 2), and that threatening consumers' sense of self increases their propensity to make things themselves (Experiments 3A and 3B).
    International Journal of Research in Marketing 12/2012; 29(4):363-369. DOI:10.1016/j.ijresmar.2012.05.001 · 1.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Article: Overearning
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: High productivity and high earning rates brought about by modern technologies make it possible for people to work less and enjoy more, yet many continue to work assiduously to earn more. Do people overearn-forgo leisure to work and earn beyond their needs? This question is understudied, partly because in real life, determining the right amount of earning and defining overearning are difficult. In this research, we introduced a minimalistic paradigm that allows researchers to study overearning in a controlled laboratory setting. Using this paradigm, we found that individuals do overearn, even at the cost of happiness, and that overearning is a result of mindless accumulation-a tendency to work and earn until feeling tired rather than until having enough. Supporting the mindless-accumulation notion, our results show, first, that individuals work about the same amount regardless of earning rates and hence are more likely to overearn when earning rates are high than when they are low, and second, that prompting individuals to consider the consequences of their earnings or denying them excessive earnings can disrupt mindless accumulation and enhance happiness.
    Psychological Science 04/2013; 24(6). DOI:10.1177/0956797612464785 · 4.43 Impact Factor
Show more