Measuring Fun

Socrates once said the unexamined life is not worth living. But the examined life has its downside, too!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

By examined, I mean measured! We can measure almost anything with gadgets. Sleeping. Eating. Exercising. Not exercising. In a series of experiments, researchers from Duke University found that those measurements have a dark side.

Enter groups of guinea pigs, AKA student volunteers. They were asked to do activities like color shapes or walk around. Some had to track their progress by counting the shapes they colored or by using a pedometer. The others’ activities went unmeasured.

And? Volunteers who tracked their progress got more done. But they also reported enjoying the activity less! In other experiments, researchers found that counting the number of pages read diminishes the joy of reading.

And counting the numbers of laps you run diminishes the joy of running. Oh wait, there isn’t any. Try telling that to my Fitbit!