A 30-year survey of more than 30,000 people concludes that unhappy people watch 30 percent more television than their happier counterparts.
Happy people reported watching an average of 19 hours of television per week, and unhappy people 25 hours a week. In addition, happy people were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read a newspaper more often than their more morose counterparts.
Researchers, however, are not sure whether unhappiness leads to more television watching, or more viewing leads to unhappiness.
"Conflicting data suggest that TV may provide viewers with short-run pleasure, but at the expense of long-term malaise," said researcher John Robinson, a sociologist at the University of Maryland. Over time, television could push out other activities that have more positive benefits. Or perhaps television is a refuge for people who are already unhappy.
"TV is not judgmental nor difficult, so people with few social skills or resources for other activities can engage in it," Robinson and UM colleague Steven Martin write in the December issue of the journal Social Indicators Research. "Furthermore, chronic unhappiness can be socially and personally debilitating and can interfere with work and most social and personal activities, but even the unhappiest people can click a remote and be passively entertained by a TV."
Click here for the LiveScience article.