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


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
32 Reads
  • Source
    • "For example, research finds that only adults who are actively experiencing social pain fully appreciate the pain of emotional bullying for middle schoolchildren (Nordgren, Banas, & MacDonald, 2011), and that only tired people fully appreciate the impact of fatigue on behavior (Nordgren , van der Pligt, & van Harreveld, 2006). This literature further assumes people underestimate the strength of their own personal experience when they are in a cold state, for example, the strength of the positive experience that keeping busy engenders (that, notably, is distinct from failing to recognize that keeping busy engenders positive feelings in the first place; Comerford & Ubel, 2013; Hsee, Yang, & Wang, 2010). Because intrinsic incentives tend to be experiential, a potential consequence of undervaluing the strength of experience when in a cold state is that people may value intrinsic incentives more when engaging in the activity than before in planning their action, or later after pursuing it. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We document a shift in the value assigned to intrinsic incentives: people value these incentives more inside an activity than outside the activity (i.e., during vs. before or after pursuit). For example, people care more about the level of interest of their present work task than of past or future work tasks. We document this shift across a variety of activities (exercising, visiting a museum, and lab tasks) and using various measures, including rated importance of intrinsic incentives inside and outside pursuit, actual and planned persistence on activities that offer these incentives, and regret when choosers outside pursuit forgo intrinsic incentives that pursuers later seek. This shift in valuation occurs because intrinsic incentives improve the experience during action pursuit, and therefore, this shift is unique to intrinsic incentives. Extrinsic incentives, by contrast, are valued similarly inside and outside pursuit. (PsycINFO Database Record
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 09/2015; DOI:10.1037/pspa0000035 · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The origins of and rationale for the campaign have been described in more detail previously in this Journal (Donovan et al., 2006). Act-Belong-Commit denotes the three behavioral domains that contribute to positive mental health: Act: Individuals that keep physically, mentally, spiritually and socially active have higher levels of physical and mental health (Buchman et al., 2009; Hamer et al., 2009; Hsee, Yang, & Wang, 2010; Kwag et al., 2011) and better cognitive functioning (Buchman et al., 2009; Crooks, Lubben, Petitti, Little, & Chiu, 2008; Ybarra et al., 2008). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In response to recent calls for implementing mental health promotion (MHP) in Denmark, the Danish National Institute of Public Health undertook a perusal of existing MHP frameworks. While a small number of such frameworks exist, the Act-Belong-Commit campaign that originated in Western Australia, was the only comprehensive, population-wide program identified that had a strong evidence base, demonstrated success in implementation and universal principles of well-being. Following a successful funding application to the Ministry of Health, the National Institute for Public Health, is leading a partnership to implement the Act-Belong-Commit campaign in Denmark in 2015-2017. This article describes the Act-Belong-Commit campaign and its implementation in Australia and how the National Institute of Public Health plans to introduce the campaign into Denmark. It is hoped that our planning for Denmark will be helpful to other countries planning to adopt the Act-Belong-Commit campaign.
    01/2015; 17(1):1-12. DOI:10.1080/14623730.2014.995449
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Why is it difficult to be virtuous? Although cultural wisdom teaches that cultivating virtue brings happiness—and empirical studies have demonstrated the long-term benefits of acting virtuously—many people seem to behave as though exercising virtues is difficult, or even painful. When it comes to virtue, any benefits for the self may seem distant: short-term pain for long-term gain. We propose, however, that behaving virtuously often provides affective benefits even in the short term, but these benefits are obscured by systematic affective forecasting errors. Using five virtues (humanity, wisdom, courage, temperance, and transcendence), we demonstrate that people tend to feel happier after acting virtuously. We also show that people do not realize that these short-term emotional benefits will occur; when asked to predict how they will feel, people make inaccurate affective forecasts. We argue that these affective forecasting errors drive people away from the exercise of virtue.
    Social and Personality Psychology Compass 09/2011; 5(10):720 - 733. DOI:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00384.x
Show more