The New York Times
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November 20, 2008
What Happy People Don’t Do
By RONI CARYN RABIN
Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.
That’s what unhappy people do.
Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.
While most large studies on happiness have focused on the demographic characteristics of happy people — factors like age and marital status — Dr. Robinson and his colleagues tried to identify what activities happy people engage in. The study relied primarily on the responses of 45,000 Americans collected over 35 years by the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, and on published “time diary” studies recording the daily activities of participants.
“We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”
But the researchers could not tell whether unhappy people watch more television or whether being glued to the set is what makes people unhappy. “I don’t know that turning off the TV will make you more happy,” Dr. Robinson said.
Still, he said, the data show that people who spend the most time watching television are least happy in the long run.
Since the major predictor of how much time is spent watching television is whether someone works or not, Dr. Robinson added, it’s possible that rising unemployment will lead to more TV time.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
**Welcome to the MCS blog! **
The term "blog" is derived from the Middle English word "blog" (blŏg), meaning, "to mistakenly think you have something interesting to say." We hope this blog will be a place for students to get information about internships, schedule changes, special events and a space in which we can create some sense of um, MCS-ness. One of the nice things about being part of a newly-hatched program is we get to make it up as we go along.
As the director of the program, I plan to do a lot of making things up as I go along and I'm hoping some of the work of making up this blog will be borne by some of our talented (or at least enthusiastic), motivated (or at least not completely apathetic) students who prefer fooling around with blogs to actually doing their homework. Hmm. Perhaps we can figure out a way to combine fooling around with a blog and doing homework. I'll get back to you on that.
In the meantime, it's worth mentioning a couple of things to bear in mind during these tumultuous times: The MCS-prefix courses 222, 333, and 499 will be on the schedule starting in the Spring in 2008. MCS 370, a special topics seminar focusing on digital storytelling, will be available in the Winter term. In the meantime, AMST 222 will count as a legitimate substitution for MCS 222, one of the core courses for the major and certificate. MCS 404 and 400 are currently on the books for this fall. Students doing their internship this fall should register for MCS 404. Contact me first to get the proper section number.
I'm really excited about the new program and I'm looking forward to meeting all the new majors and certificate students. I'll have office hours on Wednesday afternoons this fall. I hope you'll take a moment from your busy schedules to stop by and introduce yourselves before we get too deep into the term.
Yours in MCS-ness,