Too much free time almost as bad as the little

The more a person’s free time increases, the better he feels, but to a certain extent.

More free time is significantly associated with greater mental satisfaction, but from a certain point onwards too much free time ceases to increase pleasure and can even be experienced as a bad thing, according to a new study of psychologists in the US. The study shows that only when excess free time is used in productive activities, can it further increase people’s mental well-being, which should be taken into account especially by retirees.

person holding clear glass mug with brown liquid

Researchers at the universities of Pennsylvania and California-Los Angeles, led by assistant professor Marissa Sharif, who published the relevant publication in the American Journal of personality and social psychology “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”, analyzed data on 21,736 people who gave detailed data on what they did in the previous 24 hours and reported their psychological state. It was found that initially as free time increased, people felt better. But after about two hours the satisfaction stabilized, and after five hours of free time, it began to decrease.

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Article The study also analyzed data on another 13,639 employees, correlating their free time with their degree of satisfaction. And in this case, it was found that more free time brought more pleasure, but from a certain point onwards mental well-being “caught the ceiling” and extra free time did not bring more joy.

In a third phase of the research, the researchers conducted two online experiments with over 6,000 participants, who were asked to imagine that they have more or less free time on their hands during the day for many months. Those who imagined that they only have 15 minutes a day, but also those who imagined that they have seven hours a day as free time, reported that they felt less pleasure, compared to those who were in the middle of the leisure scale (3.5 hours a day). But when the same people were asked to imagine that in their very free time they do some productive activity (physical exercise, hobbies, etc.), instead of something counterproductive (e.g. watching TV), then even those with the seven hours of free time in the day stated that they would feel just as good as those who had 3.5 hours at their disposal.


“People often complain that they are overly busy and that they need more free time. But is he really associated with greater happiness? We found that indeed the lack of free time during the day entails more stress and less subjective well-being. But while very little free time is bad, most is not always better,” Sharif said. “Our findings show that if someone has whole days free to do what they want, they can eventually feel unhappy. People should rather have a moderate level of leisure time. In cases where they find themselves with too much free time, e.g. due to retirement or dismissal, our findings show that they will feel better if they devote their free time to a cause,” he added.

Source: ANA – MPA

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