Why People Work More than They Need To, Choosing Stress Over Leisure

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that many people are willing to work more hours than are needed to do their jobs, even though it results in a more stressful life. 

What's the Latest?

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found--perhaps it's no surprise given the struggling economy--that many people are willing to work more hours than are needed to do their jobs, even though it results in a more stressful life. In part one of an experiment, subjects were given the choice of listening to pleasant music (representing leisure) and listening to shrill noise (representing work). When subjects listened to noise, they earned pieces of chocolate. In part two, they got to eat the chocolate. But most individuals were willing to sacrifice the pleasant music to accumulate more chocolate than they could physically eat in part two.

What's the Big Idea?

The phenomenon of working for more than you need, and being aware of the added stress that comes as a result, is called "over earning" by scientists. Most common among the upper levels of white-collar workers, over earning is thought to be a relic of our evolutionary past when working too much and earning too much were not of real concern. "To earn and accumulate as much as possible was a functional heuristic for survival," they write. "Individuals did not need to worry about earning too much, because they could not earn too much." The researchers compared the phenomenon to over eating, which is a relatively recent problem as well. 

Read more at Business Insider

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