2010 August 31 Tuesday
Church Attendance Beats Shopping For Happiness?

More shopping or less church attendances reduces happiness?

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, August 31, 2010 – A new study conducted by a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researcher, together with a researcher from De-Paul University, reveals that women in the United States generally derive more happiness from religious participation than from shopping on Sundays.

Additionally, the repeal of "blue laws," which allow stores to open on Sundays, has a negative effect on the level of religious participation of white women and therefore has a negative impact on their happiness. Interestingly, the authors did not observe any significant decline in reported happiness of other groups whose religious participation was not significantly affected by repeal.

I wonder whether the groups whose religious participation didn't drop also didn't shop as much on Sunday.

Reinstitute the ban on Sunday shopping in order to boost happiness by a substantial amount?

The research also reveals that when Sunday blue laws are repealed, women who choose secular activities, such as shopping, are not happier. The repeal of blue laws decreases the relative probability of being at least "pretty happy" relative to "not happy" by about 17 percent.

Did you know that the happiness of women has been on the decline for 3 decades? Women's liberation, movement into the workforce, divorcing their husbands (women initiate most divorces by a substantial margin), sexual liberation, and other changes have not made them happier. This guy thinks lifting of Blue Laws made women less happy.

According to Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada of BGU's Department of Economics, "We found that there is direct evidence that religious participation has a positive causal effect on a person's happiness. Furthermore, an important part of the decline in women's happiness during the last three decades can be explained by decline in religious participation."

Think about the evolutionary roles of hunter men and gatherer women. When shopping was illegal on Sundays the effect was to force women to take a break from gathering. Maybe the inability to act on the shopping instinct actually provides a relief, an ability to rest one's mind and enjoy what you already have.

Or maybe the problem for the gatherer woman with cash and credit card is that gathering is too easy with too many things for her to choose among.

The ability to easily satisfy immediate desires comes at the expense of long term satisfaction.

The authors speculate that respondents did not return to attending church as much even after they noticed that they were happier before the repeal because of a problem of self-control or the need for immediate satisfaction.

"People choose shopping, like watching TV, because it provides immediate satisfaction," Dr. Cohen-Zada explains. "That satisfaction lasts for the moment it's being consumed and not much longer than that. Religious participation, on the other hand, is not immediate. Instead, it requires persistence over a period of time."

We humans are no longer in our Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA). Since we are not adapted to the environments we have created with technology we need to look for signs of how we could modify our current environments in order to make us better adjusted and happier with our current environments.

Update: Greater ease of alcohol purchase in Sweden would increase the harm associated with alcohol consumption.

A study published today in the scientific journal Addiction argues that privatising Sweden's government monopoly on the sale of alcohol will significantly increase alcohol-related violence and other harms. Depending on the type of privatisation, experts predict that total alcohol consumption in Sweden will increase by 17 - 37%, with thousands more alcohol-related deaths, assaults, and drunk driving offences per year and up to 11 million more days of sick leave.

Does the state of Pennsylvania still operate state liquor stores?

By Randall Parker    2010 August 31 10:39 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2009 April 14 Tuesday
Fat And Happy: They Go Together In Taiwanese Children

Do happy kids decide to eat more food or does getting fatty change brain chemistry to make kids happier?

For the first time, Chang and Nayga looked at the relationship between unhealthy dietary habits and children’s psychological health. In particular, they studied the effects of fast food and soft drink consumption on children’s body weight and unhappiness.  Using data from the National Health Interview Survey in Taiwan - a nationwide survey carried out in 2001 – the authors looked at the fast food and soft drink consumption, body weight and level of happiness of 2,366 children aged between 2 and 12 years old.  Fast food included French fries, pizza and hamburgers; soft drinks included soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

A quarter of the children in the survey sample were overweight or obese and approximately 19 percent sometimes or often felt unhappy, sad or depressed.  The study’s key finding was that children who ate fast food and drank soft drinks were more likely to be overweight, but they were also less likely to be unhappy. The authors’ analysis also highlighted a number of factors influencing children’s body weight, eating patterns and happiness.  For example, mothers’ consumption of fast food and soft drinks predicted her child’s eating habits.  Those children who ate fast food were more likely to also consume soft drinks.  Children from lower income households were more likely to have unhealthy dietary habits and be overweight or obese.

What is going on with this result? Is the relationship real? If so, in which direction does the arrow of causality flow?

Keep in mind this result is from Taiwan. Would it hold in Japan or Scotland or Greece?

By Randall Parker    2009 April 14 11:08 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
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