Time Affluence

دوره: The Science of Well-Being / فصل: Stuff that Really Makes Us Happy / درس 8

Time Affluence

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And so Here's what they find when they looked at two categories of people could spend their time in the cafe, whether they were socializing or whether they were working. If I get you to think about making lots of money, you end up spending all your time at the cafe working. Basically, making these social connections, maybe even having some kindness in there, like all this other stuff that we think promotes happiness.

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And so when we think of affluence, we often think as we are wont to, because of our obsession with salaries, and good jobs, and this stuff - of monetary affluence. So if you google affluence, just the word affluence, this is what you get in Google image search. It’s all images of people who are rich. I like the one in the middle, all the way on the left. I think that’s a golden hamburger. I don’t know why that’s what people associate with affluence. But that’s what you get. You get this idea that being rich in some sense is being rich with money. But psychologists talk about a second kind of affluence. One that’s often at odds with this kind of wealth affluence, and that’s the idea of time affluence. The idea that you just have time to do the stuff that you want. You don’t ever feel like you’re strapped for time. Sometimes you have time to just do nothing and just enjoy, for example, a beautiful day in New Haven. And so there’s this question about whether or not we should be investing in time affluence. We don’t have the sense that we should. In fact, this is why you guys are always scheduled way, way, way more than you’d like to be. But is it the case that investing in time affluence could actually make us happier than we think? And so researchers have looked at this, are we kind of chasing money or chasing time. And Whillans et al. did a cool study of this. They just presented people with two example people. So, Tina at the top, she values her time more than money. She’s willing to sacrifice money to have more free time. She’d rather work fewer hours, make less money so that she could have some time off. And then we have the opposite. Maggie, she values her money more than her time. She’s willing to sacrifice lots of time to get more money. She would totally work more hours to make more money rather than have time off. And the subjects were just asked, who are you more like in a whole series of questions. And then later, how happy are you? And what you find as you might expect since I’m telling you guys this is that people that prioritize time over money, people that say they’re more like Tina, are happier on average than the folks who end up prioritizing money over time. You can see this in another context. Hershfield et al. did a similar study on this. They actually were really interested in the reasons that people value time over money. Maybe the actual reasons might give a hint as to why folks who value time are better off. They had people first say whether they valued time over money and then to go through and look at why that was. And so you can see that both folks who value time and money kind of have often similar reasons. You either don’t have enough time or money, or you’re focused on your needs or what you’d like. You’re focused on yourself or focused on others, and for each thing valuing time or revaluing money, you could focus on different things. They collapsed across all those and said, okay. Ignoring the reasons or controlling for the reasons that people think that what happens in terms of people’s happiness when they value time over money? And so they looked at people’s happiness levels after people did the survey and what you find is, first as you might expect, more people in their survey actually value time over money. In fact, it’s about 70 percent, 30 over two-thirds of people valued money over time. But if you look at who’s happier, what you find is that in general those who are valuing time are overall happier than those who value money. And this is on, I think, a five-point scale. It’s actually a pretty big difference. So again, what we’re finding is prioritizing getting extra time and doing less stuff but having more time is better than the happiness associated with money. But then that raises the question of why. Why are we thinking, why do we feel having extra time is the kind of thing that can make us happy? And that’s what Mogilner and colleagues looked at. They tried to see what do you do when you have extra time, or what do you do when you’re focused on having extra time versus having extra money? And they did this little cute study where they found people entering a cafe and they said, do you want to be part of a study and the folks said yes then they primed them to either think about valuing time or valuing money, using one of these cute techniques that psychologists use. Which is that they had people do this little puzzle where they had to unscramble a bunch of words, and those words were either about making lots of money, or those words were about having lots of time. And so it’s just a cute way to prime people to be thinking about having more time or having more money. Then they had folks go in the coffee shop and they measured, kind of secretly watched how they spent their time, what were they doing when they were in the coffee shop. And then as folks left they asked their happiness levels. And so Here’s what they find when they looked at two categories of people could spend their time in the cafe, whether they were socializing or whether they were working. And what you find is the effect of maybe why time affluence is making us so much happier which is that when people unscrambled the words about time, they spent almost twice as much time at the cafe socializing as when they spent their time unscrambling words about money. You see just the opposite pattern for when you look at who’s working. If I get you to think about making lots of money, you end up spending all your time at the cafe working. Whereas if I get you to think about time, you don’t bother to work at all. You use your time affluence to talk to people and socialize. Basically, making these social connections, maybe even having some kindness in there, like all this other stuff that we think promotes happiness. They then of course ask people as folks left whether or not you’re happier. You’re guessing that these folks who are thinking about time were having more social connections. Probably, it might make them happier. And that’s actually just what they found. If you look at people’s happiness ratings on one to five in some control condition where you just unscrambled random words, you’re at a happiness level about 3.5. In the money condition where you’re thinking about making money, you don’t get any happier than if you just unscrambled random words. But in the time condition you’re almost a half a point happier on this five-point scale. Just by thinking about your time as being rich and open or just focusing on it. It makes you a little bit happier. And so the upshot is that thinking about time and sort of investing in time affluence is going to make you happier at least in part because it’s going to make you more social. It’s going to make you realize that what you want to be doing with your time isn’t doing all the stuff you need to do to earn money. It’s just doing fun things and interacting with others. And so that is time affluence and you might think it’s the thing I could want but I’ll stick it in after all this other stuff that I do. But this is the sad thing about time affluence, is that you can only have a lot of it if you sort of are worried about the opportunity cost of it. By focusing on things like grades, and all the accolades you have to get to get a good job, and finding the perfect partner, and all those things, you’re taking away from the free time that you have that if you just have it, You can feel open to do lots of things and you’ll naturally sort of fill it with social connections. So think about all the times that you could have more time that you choose not to. Not this lecture of course. This a good thing to be in but other than that.

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