The joys of TV-hood

TvWhen commercials need to depict female happiness, they often do so by showing a mother joyously involved with her kids. All a sham, I’m afraid. A more realistic emblem of female happiness would be a woman watching TV all by herself.

That’s one inescapable conclusion to be drawn from a new study of working women, as summarized Friday by The New York Times from the full presentation in the journal Science. (You have to register to access the full Times site, but it’s free.)

The researchers used a technique called the Day Reconstruction Method, in which participants keep a diary of everything they do during the day and then, on the following day, gauge how they felt at the time about each activity. “Predictably, the researchers found that commuting to work, housework and facing a boss rated as the least pleasant activities, while sex, socializing with friends and relaxing were most enjoyable,” says the Times write-up.

What about the joys of motherhood? Alas, taking care of children rated quite poorly, “below cooking and not far above housework.” Watching TV scored very well, even besting such stereotypical feminine pastimes as shopping and talking on the phone. Perhaps we could have inferred some of this from the fact that the number of TV channels keeps rising while the birth rate is near historic lows.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver