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A favorite waste of time: The experience of watching TV


  • Sjöberg, Lennart

    () (Center for Risk Research)

  • Magneberg, Rutger

    () (Datagram HB, Göteborg)


TV watching is one of the most important ways of spending leisure time, the average daily watching time in the Swedish population is about 141 minutes – about 15 % of non-sleep time. Yet, there is little research on the psychological processes taking place while watching TV. In the present study using still-relevant data from a 1985-86 data base, the cognitive and emotional functions of TV watching in everyday life were investigated by means of a random action sampling procedure. TV watching was characterized by a high level of happiness and relaxation, own initiative, a long time span, closeness to goal, commonness, and easiness. It was characterized by a low level of negative emotions, concentration, expected value of outcome, activation, level of intention and presence of others. TV watching thus emerges as an activity, which mainly provides some pleasant relaxation. It is common, easy to do and done in relative solitude. It is a somewhat interesting activity, but it stimulates little concentration and involvement. It is regarded as an obstacle to the pursuit of other goals. The relevance of the results for the present situation with regard to TV is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Sjöberg, Lennart & Magneberg, Rutger, 2006. "A favorite waste of time: The experience of watching TV," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration 2006:6, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 01 Sep 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2006_006

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    experience sampling method; action sampling; television; emotions; interest; involvement;

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