Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration

No 2006:6:
A favorite waste of time: The experience of watching TV

Lennart Sjöberg () and Rutger Magneberg ()

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: experience sampling method; action sampling; television; emotions; interest; involvement; (follow links to similar papers)

29 pages, July 8, 2006, Revised September 1, 2008


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This paper is published as:
Sjöberg, Lennart and Rutger Magneberg, (2007), 'Action sampling of TV viewing: A favorite waste of time', Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 2

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