Saturday, September 15, 2012

People Who Read Are Happier....

At least that's what I heard on the radio news the other day. When I decided to search for more information on the study, all I found were references to one that appears to have been done in 2008, but I thought the story on the news made it sound like the research was more recent than that. Anyway, the point was that there is a stronger correlation between being happy and reading than between watching TV and being happy. Apparently, this is true even if the book one is reading is a sad story. The radio story speculated that one reason might be that when a person is reading, he/she forms interpersonal relationships with the characters.

I don't know if that's true; after all, there have been some TV shows I watched faithfully in the past simply because I liked the characters so much. If there is any truth to this reading = happiness idea (as I tell students in Research Methods class, correlation is NOT causation), I think it is more likely to be because our brains are more deeply involved when we are reading. The effort involved is probably what makes us feel good, sort of like the feeling of well-being that comes along with the physical fatigue of working out.

So maybe the conclusion of this study is true and maybe it's not. But I would encourage everyone to test it on your own. Turn off Honey Boo Boo and pick up a novel. Keep that up for six months, and then tell me - are you happy?

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