What Do Happy People Do?


Little attention in the quality-of-life literature has been paid to data on the daily activity patterns of happy and less happy people. Using ratings-scale information from time-diary studies, this article examines the hypothesis that people who describe themselves as happier engage in certain activities more than those who describe themselves as less happy. Based on 34 years of data collected by the General Social Survey (GSS) on social activities and media usage, it is found that people who are happy report being more active in most social activities, in religion and in newspaper reading. On the other hand, happier people report less time watching television, a relation that holds after control for education, marital status and other predictors of happiness. The need to replicate these findings using panel data is highlighted.

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Correspondence to John P. Robinson.

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Robinson, J.P., Martin, S. What Do Happy People Do?. Soc Indic Res 89, 565–571 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-008-9296-6

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  • Happiness
  • Quality of life
  • Time use
  • General Social Survey (GSS)