Study: TV makes you unhappy, and unhappy people watch more TV

A vicious cycle!

man watching TV
Flickr user: Al Ibrahim, Creative Commons

A study in Psychology Today proves what was long thought true: too much TV makes you depressed. It also revealed another surprising tidbit of information: unhappier people tend to watch more TV. 


The study was conducted by Gul Gunaydin, the Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at Bilkent University in Turkey. She studied the TV habits of almost 1,700 adults ages 33-45 to figure out the quantitive positive affect (or PA), or lack thereof, of watching TV. 

Among the findings: TV watching didn't directly cause depression, but those with lower PA on certain days did tend to watch more TV the next day, which led to lower PA. This created somewhat of a cycle. While more a psychological study than a scientific one, you can view her whole study in its original form here

According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the average American watches about 3 hours a day of TV, and according to another poll spend about 4 hours a day on their phones. This doesn't lead to overall happiness; in fact, most Americans are reporting a rapid rise in overwhelming anxiety. There's actual tangible evidence that some of that anxiety might have to do with a certain person in politics, but undoubtedly the sheer increase in screen time is messing with our minds. Let's not even get into the dangers of social media on our wellbeing

It's been said that we are in the golden age of television. That means that, according to critics, we have a large percentage of great TV shows. Yet that only tells one side of the story: thanks in large part to the fragmentation of media, there are more TV shows than ever before. There are currently 487 scripted shows on the air. And that doesn't count reality TV, game shows, the news, all of which have dedicated channels and often take up the majority of the programming on TV. The point being: hey, there's a lot of TV to watch. 

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