Ever spent an entire day in bed and got up in the evening feeling no better off?

295e11bb 44ee 4ae4 a85c f30aa35ac182 Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring

The evolutionary explanation for our choice of behavior is obvious, to conserve energy. A study published in July has proposed that when given the choice between doing something or not doing something we will take the lazy option near on every time. The paper published in psychological science proposes that we’d be happier if we spent the time actively than standing around, even if that activity was walking round in circles.

So far so good, yada yada. Heres where it gets fishy…. The study (ironicly conducted in a business school) reviewed a stack of research confirming the above and suggesting we live in a paradox in which:

1. We dread Idleness and crave activity

2. We need reason for activity and won’t enter in to it voluntarily

This led the authors to consider a rather startling hypothesis:

“busy people are happier than idle people, regardless of whether they choose to be busy or are forced to be busy” (Hsee et al 2010)
stalin Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring
The researchers proceed to perform a strangely elaborate test on the participants. The experimenter gave the participants a chocolate bar in return for them completing an inconsequential questionairre and then gave them the choice to hand back the questionnaire or walk back to the experimenter’s office and return it to a pigeon-hole. They were then asked to rate the chocolate on how good it tasted. The participants that walked thought the chocolate tasted nicer.
wonka bar Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring
Sorry, rewind! Never mind the possible spurious variables… like the effect of exercise on us wanting chocolate, or the limitations in application (or “ecological validity” as us Psych buffs call it), or happiness being a far more complex an emotion than taste, or that taste is not really even an emotion at all. Or the possibility that it might have just been a friendly act to walk the paper back and these friendly people also surprise surprise were less likely to say “your free chocolate tasted like arse, thankyou very much”. Or the fact that this entire experiment is about bloody chocolate bars. Despite all of this, this somehow led the researchers to the conclusion:
“people are happier when busy than when idle, even if busyness is forced upon them”
Pardon me but that sounds awfully like the Scientific equivalent of discerning the meaning of life from Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. In fact scratch that, that sounds like a much better idea all together.
charlie and the chocolate factory 9 Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn TiringNow I’m just going to go ahead and be lazy and quote directly from the “Implications” section of this thesis, because to sumarise just wouldn’t do it justice:
“We advocate a third kind of busyness: futile busyness, namely, busyness serving no purpose other than to prevent idleness. Such activity is more realistic than constructive busyness and less evil than destructive busyness.”
It gets better…
wow bridge Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring
“This is where paternalism can play a role (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008). For example, homeowners may increase the happiness of their idle housekeepers by letting in some mice and prompting the housekeepers to clean up. Governments mayincrease the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.”
big brother Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring
Get ready, Big Brothers coming… and this time he’s bringing his whip!
NB: Believe it or not this is not a new idea, it’s being going on for ages. Larson (1987) proposed that airport customers would be happier aimlessly trekking it round the air port in circles than causing trouble  by baggage reclaim or heaven forbid perhaps reading a book.

airportmaze2 Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring

Well, if it fails to make people happy it’s one way to solve an unemployment problem at least… sigh

Return to Neurobonkers.com Why Airports Suck So Much and Doing Nothing Can Be So Damn Tiring

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