Study Finds Glum Glued to the Boob Tube

A new academic study demonstrates that unhappy people watch more TV than their happy counterparts. The study, by a group of sociologists at the University of Maryland, analyzed 30 years worth of data from time-use studies and social attitude surveys involving 30,000 adult subjects.

“TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,” said UM sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author. “It’s more passive and may provide escape--especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.”

Robinson said the data also indicated that more people would be watching more TV as the financial crisis deepens.

“Work is the major activity correlate of higher TV viewing hours,” he said. “As people have progressively more time on their hands, viewing hours increase.”

The results indicated that people who described themselves as being unhappy watched about 20 percent more TV than the “very happy.”

Unhappy people were also more likely to feel they had unwanted extra time on their hands--51 percent--compared to very happy people--19 percent--while also feeling rushed for time more often than happy folks.