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Report: Giving Time Can Give You Time

According to a recent article for the Association of Psychological Science, Americans have more leisure time than ever before in history.

So what are we all so stressed about?

Three business professors have an idea. Zoe Chance, of the Yale School of Management, Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton and Cassie Mogilner of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School suggest in their paper, “Giving Time Gives You Time,” that perhaps people who perceive themselves to be victims of a “time famine” might not be giving enough of their time to others.

Mogilner, Norton and Chance conducted a series of experiments comparing time given to time wasted, time spent on oneself, and a windfall of time received unexpectedly (for example, a cancelled meeting). Their findings suggest that spending time on others not only makes people feel as if they have more time, it can lead them to commit to giving more time in the future.

They have created a transitive property of time perception, so to speak. Helping others can increase self-efficacy, causing time spent on others to seem more “full” and accomplished. More accomplished periods of time are perceived as being longer; thus, giving time can increase one’s perception of how much time one actually has.

As counter-intuitive as it may initially seem, the result is simple. While watching television and pampering oneself may feel relaxing, individuals who are generous with their time feel more effective and accomplished and less time-constrained.

You can read the full report, below:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/90848882/Report-Giving-Time-Gives-You-Time

Guests:

  • Michael Norton, associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
  • Cassie Mogilner, assistant professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business

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  • Roy Mac

    The only problem with volunteering is that the pay sucks.  Does WBUR pay ANY attention to the real economy?  Not just the “beg-a-thon” model?

    • Estherbrooks

      Umm…me thinks you missed the point of this segment

  • Anonymous

    Were the people in the study volunteers or did they get paid for it?  How did that have an impact on the study? 

    • sunney

      My foreign teacher has the same name as you !

  • Daniel Obeng

    Similar to John’s point, it doesn’t seem like the investigators distinguished “giving of one’s time” from “being productive”.  If a third group of participants were essentially paid for volunteering (e.g., “Here’s $1 for every 5 minutes of assistance you offer another person that you weren’t already planning to do”), would the sense of time left to be spent still be greater when compared against the participants who indulged themselves? 

    Additionally, it would be interesting to evaluate if those who *felt* like they had more time actually translated that feeling into productivity.  In other words, was the time gained back actionable or just a nice feeling?

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

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