IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Television Viewing, Satisfaction and Happiness: Facts and Fiction

  • Marco Gui
  • Luca Stanca


Despite the increasing consumption of new media, watching television remains the most important leisure activity worldwide. Research on audience reactions has demostrated that there are major contradictions between television consumption and the satisfaction obtained from this activity. Similar findings have also emerged in the relationship between TV consumption and overall well-being. This paper argues that television viewing can provide a major example where consumption choices do not maximize satisfaction. We review the evidence on the welfare effects of TV consumption choices, focusing on two complementary dimensions: consumption satisfaction and overall well-being Within each of these two dimensions, we consider both absolute and relative over-consumption, referring to quantity and content of television viewing, respectively. We find that research in different social sciences provides evidence of overconsumption in television viewing. The relevance of these findings for consumption of new media is discussed in the conclusions.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 403 Forbidden ( The server denied the specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Contact the server administrator. ). If this is indeed the case, please notify (Roberto Reale)

File Function: First version, 2009
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 167.

in new window

Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2009
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:167
Contact details of provider: Postal: Piazza Ateneo Nuovo, 1 Milano 20126
Phone: +39 02 6448 3089
Fax: +39 02 6448 3085
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. Swinkels, Jeroen M. & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "Information, evolution and utility," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(1), pages 119-142, March.
  3. Giacomo Corneo, 2002. "Work and Television," CESifo Working Paper Series 829, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Chong, Alberto & Duryea, Suzanne & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2008. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," CEPR Discussion Papers 6785, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle," Microeconomics 0304005, EconWPA, revised 21 Apr 2003.
  6. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2005. "The Case for Mindless Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000581, David K. Levine.
  7. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto E. Chong, 2009. "Television and Divorce: Evidence from Brazilian Novelas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6760, Inter-American Development Bank.
  8. Bruno S. Frey & Christine Benesch & Alois Stutzer, . "Does watching TV make us happy?," IEW - Working Papers 241, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Richins, Marsha L. & Rudmin, Floyd W., 1994. "Materialism and economic psychology," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 217-231, June.
  10. O'Guinn, Thomas C & Shrum, L J, 1997. " The Role of Television in the Construction of Consumer Reality," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 278-94, March.
  11. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2006. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 209-225, 05.
  12. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Christine Benesch & Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "TV Channels, Self Control and Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 301, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  15. Alex Michalos, 1985. "Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 347-413, May.
  16. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:167. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roberto Reale)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.