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更新时间:2017-7-30 9:00:51 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Want to Be Happy? Buy More Takeout and Hire a Maid, Study Suggests

It’s a question central to daily life: Do you spend money to save time or spend time to save money? Well, if happiness is the goal, you might consider opening that wallet.


That’s the takeaway of a study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, whose findings suggest that spending money to save time may reduce stress about the limited time in the day, thereby improving happiness.

这是本周发表在《美国国家科学院院刊》(The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)上的一篇研究论文的精华所在。研究成果显示,为了节省时间而付出金钱,或许可以减少每天时间有限带来的压力,从而提升人的幸福感。

“People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” said Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and lead author of the study, which was based on a series of surveys from several countries. Researchers did not see the same effect when people used money for material goods.

“花钱买时间的人,比如把不喜欢的事项外包出去的人,所报告的总体生活满意度更高,”论文的第一作者、哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)副教授阿什利·威兰斯(Ashley Whillans)说。这篇论文是以在多个国家的一系列调查为基础的。当人们花钱购买物质商品的时候,研究人员未发现同样的效应。

In one round, Ms. Whillans and her colleagues surveyed nearly 4,500 people in the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands on well-being and timesaving purchases, such as ordering takeout food, taking a cab, hiring household help or paying someone to run an errand. In another round, using a broader definition of such purchases, they surveyed about 1,800 other Americans.


About 28 percent of those in the first round and half in the second reported spending money to save time. In both cases, those who made such purchases reported greater life satisfaction than those who did not.


And it didn’t matter if they were rich or poor: People benefited from buying time regardless of where they fell on the income spectrum. (The authors note, though, that may not hold true for the poorest of the poor.)


“If there’s some task that just thinking about it fills you with dread, then it’s probably worth considering whether you can afford to buy your way out of it,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an author of the paper.

“如果觉得有些事项让你充满恐惧,那么或许值得考虑一下,你能否出得起钱,让自己落个清静,”论文作者之一、不列颠哥伦比亚大学(University of British Columbia)心理学教授伊丽莎白·邓恩(Elizabeth Dunn)说。

The surveys established a link between buying time and happiness, but the researchers wanted to see whether one causes the other.


So they conducted an experiment with a few dozen Canadians. First, they provided the participants with $40 on two consecutive weekends to spend, as directed, on either timesaving purchases or material purchases, like board games, fancy wine, or clothes. Then, they asked the participants their mood at the end of the day.


As the researchers predicted, spending money to save time appeared to reduce time-related stress and increase well-being, while spending on material goods did not have the same effect.


But, despite its benefits, the practice of buying time is not as popular as one might expect, they found. Even among more than 800 Dutch millionaires surveyed, all of whom surely could afford to do so, only a slight majority spent money on timesaving tasks.


Professors Whillans and Dunn offered a few guesses as to why, at least in the United States: a Protestant work ethic that values being busy or guilt over paying someone for a task that people could easily do themselves, for example.


“We want to seem like we have it all together and we might be therefore resistant to spending money on timesaving purchases even when we can afford it,” Ms. Whillans said.