Too Much Free Time Promotes Lower Well-Being

Too Much Free Time Promotes Lower Well-Being

Too much free time promotes lower well-being. New research shows that excessive free time may be almost as bad as too little.

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers analyzed the data from 21,736 Americans who have involved in the American Time Use Survey between 2012 and 2013. Researchers asked the participants what they did during the prior 24 hours and assessed their sense of well-being.

The study found that higher levels of free time were not associated with greater well-being.

Our findings suggest that ending up with entire days free may leave one similarly unhappy. People should have a moderate amount of free time. Researchers discovered that having low discretionary hours in one's day results in greater stress as well as lower well-being.

"People often complain about being too busy and express wanting more time. But is more time actually linked to greater happiness? We found that having a dearth of discretionary hours in one's day results in greater stress and lower subjective well-being," said Marissa Sharif, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at The Wharton School. "However, while too little time is bad, having more time is not always better." Sharif is also the lead author of the paper.

The researchers noted that participants with more free time had lower levels of well-being when engaged in unproductive activities. However, those with a moderate amount of free time also reported the same well-being as those with more free time, when engaging in productive activities.