Nav: Home

Scheduling leisure activities makes them less fun

December 08, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nothing ruins a potentially fun event like putting it on your calendar.

In a series of studies, researchers found that scheduling a leisure activity like seeing a movie or taking a coffee break led people to anticipate less enjoyment and actually enjoy the event less than if the same activities were unplanned.

That doesn't mean you can't plan at all: The research showed that roughly planning an event (but not giving a specific time) led to similar levels of enjoyment as unplanned events.

"People associate schedules with work. We want our leisure time to be free-flowing," said Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

"Time is supposed to fly when you're having fun. Anything that limits and constrains our leisure chips away at the enjoyment."

Malkoc conducted the study with Gabriela Tonietto, a doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis. Their results are published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

In the paper, they report on 13 separate studies that looked at how scheduling leisure activities affects the way we think about and experience them.

In one study, college students were given a calendar filled with classes and extracurricular activities and asked to imagine that this was their actual schedule for the week.

Half of the participants were then asked to make plans to get frozen yogurt with a friend two days in advance and add the activity to their calendar. The other half imagined running into a friend and deciding to get frozen yogurt immediately.

Results showed that those who scheduled getting frozen yogurt with their friend rated the activity as feeling more like a "commitment" and "chore" than those who imagined the impromptu get-together.

"Scheduling our fun activities leads them to take on qualities of work," Malkoc said.

The effect is not just for hypothetical activities.

In an online study, the researchers had people select an entertaining YouTube video to watch. The catch was that some got to watch their chosen video immediately. Others chose a specific date and time to watch the video and put in on their calendar.

Results showed that those who watched the scheduled video enjoyed it less than those who watched it immediately.

While people seem to get less enjoyment out of precisely scheduled activities, they don't seem to mind if they are more roughly scheduled.

In another study, the researchers set up a stand on a college campus where they gave out free coffee and cookies for students studying for finals.

Before setting up the stand, they handed out tickets for students to pick up their coffee and cookies either at a specific time or during a two-hour window. As they were enjoying their treat, the students filled out a short survey.

The results showed that those who had a specifically scheduled break enjoyed their time off less than did those who only roughly scheduled the break.

"If you schedule leisure activities only roughly, the negative effects of scheduling disappear," Malkoc said. Aim to meet a friend "this afternoon" rather than exactly at 1 p.m.

One study showed that even just setting a starting time for a fun activity is enough to make it less enjoyable.

"People don't want to put time restrictions of any kind on otherwise free-flowing leisure activities," she said.

Malkoc said these findings apply to short leisure activities that last a few hours or less.

The results also have implications for leisure companies that provide experiences for their customers, Malkoc said. For example, some amusement parks offer tickets for their most popular rides that allow people to avoid long lines. But this research suggests that people will enjoy these rides less if the tickets are set for a particular time. Instead, the parks should give people a window of time to board the ride, which would be the equivalent of rough scheduling in this study.
-end-
Contact: Selin Malkoc, 614-292-3212; Malkoc@fisher.osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Ohio State University

Related Coffee Articles:

How to make the healthiest coffee during COVID-19 lockdown
We may all be drinking more coffee to help us survive the COVID-19 lockdown.
Coffee changes our sense of taste
Sweet food is even sweeter when you drink coffee. This is shown by the result of research from Aarhus University.
'Whiskey webs' are the new 'coffee ring effect'
Spilled coffee forms a ring as the liquid evaporates, depositing solids along the edge of the puddle.
Is your coffee contributing to malaria risk?
Researchers at the University of Sydney and University of São Paulo, Brazil, estimate 20% of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots is driven by the international trade of exports including: coffee, timber, soybean, cocoa, wood products, palm oil, tobacco, beef and cotton.
The complex biology behind your love (or hatred) of coffee
Why do some people feel like they need three cups of coffee just to get through the day when others are happy with only one?
Room for complexity? The many players in the coffee agroecosystem
The BioScience Talks podcast features discussions of topical issues related to the biological sciences.
Coffee may protect against gallstones
Drinking more coffee may help reduce the risk of developing gallstones, according to a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Managing the ups and downs of coffee production
Research could bring new coffee varieties to market faster and improve yields.
Could coffee be the secret to fighting obesity?
Scientists from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate 'brown fat', the body's own fat-fighting defenses, which could be the key to tackling obesity and diabetes.
Researchers document impact of coffee on bowels
Coffee drinkers know that coffee helps keep the bowels moving, but researchers in Texas are trying to find out exactly why this is true, and it doesn't seem to be about the caffeine, according to a study presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2019.
More Coffee News and Coffee Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.