Success, in the Western world, means “gaining time,” according to French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard. The faster we do things — work, eat, sleep, read — the more time we “gain.”
But this focus on time efficiency could be making the small things in life harder to enjoy.
A trio of Canadian researchers have discovered that simply being exposed to symbols of Western society’s culture of convenience can undermine people’s ability to find pleasure in everyday joys.
“It is ironic that technologies designed to improve well-being by minimizing time spent on mundane chores may ultimately undermine the surplus leisure time they permit. By instigating a sense of impatience, these technologies may prevent people from savoring the enjoyable moments life offers serendipitously,” doctoral student Julian House and professors Sanford E. DeVoe and Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto wrote in the study.
The research, published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found people exposed to fast-food symbols were less likely to find pleasure in beautiful pictures and music. The research also found those living in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor pleasurable experiences.
House and his colleagues decided to examine fast food — and McDonald’s in particular — because it “has arguably become the ultimate symbol of time efficiency.”
In their first analysis, which included 280 participants from the United States, the researchers found greater fast-food concentration in one’s neighborhood was associated with reduced savoring of emotional responses to enjoyable experiences. The researchers controlled for age and wealth, but noted that other confounding variables could have skewed their results.
In a second experiment, the researchers had 250 participants rate the advertising suitability of five promotional pictures. Three of the images were neutral, while two of the images showed fast food from McDonald’s. Half of the participants saw the fast food in standard McDonald’s packaging, while those in the control group saw the exact same food with generic ceramic tableware.
In addition, half of the participants viewed ten pictures of scenic natural beauty while the others did not. All of the participants then rated their happiness.
The researchers found those who viewed the beautiful pictures tended to self-report a higher level of happiness than those who had not.
But being exposed to the fast-food symbol appeared to hamper this effect. Participants who viewed the beautiful pictures and viewed the McDonald’s symbol reported a significantly lower state of happiness than those who viewed the beautiful pictures but didn’t view the McDonald’s symbol.
The Unsafe Child: Less Outdoor Play is Causing More Harm than Good 2015-09-02 0:39
The third grade classroom that was visiting our nature center for the day consisted of mostly boys–rowdy, loud and rambunctious boys. As we started out into the woods, the children spoke loudly to each other in anticipation of what was to come. After playing a quick game and explaining the ground rules, it was time for free play. As soon ...
Rights group demand police need warrant to access data 2015-09-01 23:48
American citizens should be able to rest safe in the knowledge that no one has the right to pry into their digital records, where they have been and how long they stayed there.
The Supreme Court has just received a brief from the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) stating that this should certainly be the case. However, in the case of Davis v. ...
Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities 2015-09-01 23:33
Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city [Milwaukee]. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this yearâ€“after 86 homicides in all of 2014.
More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ...
Bulgaria - Islamic State Terrorists Caught Crossing Into Europe Posing As Refugees 2015-09-01 23:47
Bulgarian authorities near the Gyueshevo border checkpoint detained the five men, aged between 20 and 24, late on Wednesday, Bulgarian broadcaster NOVA TV reported.
The men were stopped by a border guard, who they attempted to bribe with a “wad of dollars.” However, they were searched and Islamic State propaganda, specific Jihadists prayers and decapitation videos were found on their phones.
How This NY Mom Made the Case for Her Sonâ€™s Religious Vaccine Exemption 2015-09-01 22:27
An unidentified, Russian immigrant mother who practices the Russian Orthodox faith, has secured a religious vaccine exemption for her autistic son. New York has a bill on the table to eliminate religious exemption and to root out those who weren’t refusing vaccines on strictly devout, religious grounds. Yet, this woman’s plight goes back before talk of eliminating the exemption – two ...