The shorter work week is an idea that both corporate fat cats and tree-hugging environmentalists can love. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter weeks, while CNBC citesa recent survey showing “that more than 69% of millionaires surveyed (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) said they believed the four-day work week is a ‘valid idea’.”
At the same time, closing down office car parks for an extra day a week has tremendous environmental impacts, according to Lynn Stuart Parramore writing in AlterNet, due to fewer commuting journeys. She also points out that less time in the office means less time sitting, which has been linked to health risks, and more time to tend to health problems that may go ignored in a typical 40-hour work week. “For many Americans, going to see a doctor involves sneaking off in the middle of the workday, because there’s no time outside of work to do it. Ironically, they probably need the doctor more because they spend so much time in the office.”
It’s been over a decade since American psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich concluded that doing things makes people happier than having things. “To Do or to Have? That Is the Question” was the title of the study they published in 2003 (PDF), and it’s been cited hundreds of times since.
Many people now recognize that spending money on, say, a plane ticket for a vacation is more satisfying in the long run than purchasing a new television for the same price. But happiness studies keep evolving, and social scientists continue to find new ways of understanding precisely how our economic choices affect well-being.
A new paper, this one also co-authored by Thomas Gilovich, hones in on another difference between experiential and material purchases: how people feel before they make these purchases, when they’re simply entertaining thoughts of booking flights to the Caribbean or going to the movies, or thinking about shopping for clothing or jewelry.
Gilovich and his colleagues asked subjects to think about either an experiential or material purchase they were planning on making very soon, evaluate whether their anticipation made them feel excited or impatient, and rate the overall pleasantness of the anticipation.
The researchers also conducted a separate study in which they polled 2,226 adults on their iPhones at random times to ask whether the individuals were, in that moment, contemplating any future purchases (and if so, whether the purchase would be experiential or material, and whether they associated the thoughts with markedly pleasant, exciting, or impatient anticipatory feelings).
OH man it’s getting close, although I now realize I should have done a countdown instead of a count-up because the final video is going to be so anticlimactic, but alas, here’s video 23 of 30 videos in 30ish days.