Thinking Leisure Is A Waste Hampers Your Mental Health, Study Suggests

Mental Health News: If people start to believe that leisure is wasteful and unproductive, they may end up being less happy and more stressed and depressed, new research suggests.

This is in contrast to what most people believe i.e – having fun is waste of time and productivity is the ultimate goal. There is a vast literature suggesting that leisure has mental health benefits and can make a person more productive and less stressed.

The new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Ohio State University highlights four studies (including 1310 participants) that demonstrate believing leisure is wasteful undermines the enjoyment of enacted leisure activities.

First two studies document that people with a general tendency to believe leisure as waste of time report lower enjoyment of leisure activities on average, especially terminally-motivated leisure (performed as an end in itself) compared to instrumentally-motivated leisure (performed as a means to an end). Thinking leisure is a waste is also associated with poorer mental health outcomes and is evident from lower reported happiness, and greater reported depression, anxiety, and stress.

Studies 3 and 4 showed that priming the belief that leisure is unproductive or wasteful reduces the enjoyment of terminally-motivated leisure activities. However, priming the belief that leisure is productive does not increase enjoyment.

“If leisure can be framed as having some kind of productive goal, that helps people who think leisure is wasteful get some of the same benefits,” said study co-author Rebecca Reczek, professor of marketing at Ohio State.

It is tough to change people’s beliefs. For those who believe leisure is wasteful, “it may be helpful to think about the productive ways that individual leisure activities can serve their long-term goals,” said study co-author Gabriela Tonietto, an assistant professor of marketing at the Rutgers Business School.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Tonietto, G. N., Malkoc, S. A., Reczek, R. W., & Norton, M. I. (2021). Viewing leisure as wasteful undermines enjoyment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 97, 104198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104198

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