If You Want To Enjoy Leisure Time, Don't Think Of It As Wasteful

Posted on October 26, 2021

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, explores how the enjoyment of leisure time changes when or if we think of that time as ‘wasteful’. It not only finds that people who believe leisure time is unproductive find it less enjoyable, but also that these beliefs are associated with depression, anxiety, and stress.

For the first study, the team recruited 302 participants who had recently celebrated Halloween. These participants first indicated what they had done for the holiday, including going to a party, going to a bar, going to a haunted house, taking kids trick or treating, or something else. All of the events were either instrumental (a means to an end, such as taking children trick or treating to fulfill a parental responsibility) or terminal (something done for its own end or for pleasure).

Participants then indicated how much they had enjoyed these activities and how much they agreed with five statements assessing whether time spent on leisure activities is wasted or unproductive. And those who had engaged in terminal leisure activities (like going to a party) indicated overall that they were less likely to enjoy those activities if they believed that leisure is wasteful.

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Source material from British Psychological Society Digest