Chris Blattman

The problem with time is money

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In this paper, we investigate how the impatience that results from placing a price on time impairs individuals’ ability to derive happiness from pleasurable experiences.

Experiment 1 demonstrated that thinking about one’s income as an hourly wage reduced the happiness that participants derived from leisure time on the internet.

Experiment 2 revealed that a similar manipulation decreased participants’ state of happiness after listening to a pleasant song and that this effect was fully mediated by the degree of impatience experienced during the music.

Finally, Experiment 3 showed that the deleterious effect on happiness caused by impatience was attenuated by offering participants monetary compensation in exchange for time spent listening to music, suggesting that a sensation of unprofitably wasted time underlay the induced impatience.

Together these experiments establish that thinking about time in terms of money can influence how people experience pleasurable events by instigating greater impatience during unpaid time.

Article here. Important caveat: the study is based on a mere 53 Canadian college students. So generalizability may be zero.

But perhaps not. Worth replicating.

The thought occurs: If only Yale college students would riot and join armed movements, my experiments would be a lot easier and cheaper to run.

h/t Farnam Street

5 Responses

  1. Not only would your research be easier, but you wouldn’t have to worry about that generalizability issue that only rears its head in developing world experiments.

  2. ok, what’s new with this result?
    Framing the people on opportunity costs will always yields such results.

  3. You should have been outside of GPSCY the night someone pulled the fire alarm on Halloween.

    Or were you?

  4. “The problem with time is money.” Yeah, but what’s the problem with money?

    Well, time IS money, and knowledge is power (two things everybody knows), and power = output/time.

    t = m
    k = p
    p = o/t

    If you solve for money in terms of knowledge and output, you’ll find that money = output/knowledge. Notice that money approaches infinity as knowledge approaches zero, irrespective of output… something everybody suspects, but now there’s proof! QED

    The inescapable conclusion is that the problem with money, my friend, is knowledge. Academia. Papers like this. YOU!

    “If only Yale college students would riot and joined armed movements…”


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