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Health & Balance

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What Makes Women Happy? Sex Tops List

New Tool Measuring Happiness Shows Women Enjoy Sex Most, Commuting Least

WebMD Health News

Dec. 9, 2004 -- Women enjoy sex most and commuting least, according to a study using a new tool that attempts to measure what really makes people happy on a daily basis.

Surprisingly, researchers said they found that activities, such as sex, socializing, eating, exercising, and watching TV have a much bigger impact on women's happiness on a daily basis than general circumstances, such as income, religion, or marital status.

The study also showed that time pressures at work, lack of sleep, and temperament (including depression) have a major impact on personal happiness.

Researchers say new tools like this one are needed to measure and quantify people's quality of life and well-being. Current tools rely on broader measures, such as income or educational status that may not accurately reflect personal happiness.

A New Way to Measure Personal Happiness

In the study, which appears in the Dec. 3 issue of Science, researchers tested a new tool, called the Day Reconstruction Method, which is designed to assess how people spend their time and how they felt about those activities on a given day.

More than 900 women answered general demographic questions and then were asked to create a short diary of the previous day by thinking of the day as a film containing a series of scenes and episodes.

After the women constructed their diary, they answered a series of questions about each episode, including what they were doing, with whom, and how they felt.

The average number of daily activities was 14 and each lasted about an hour.

The most enjoyable activities included: sex or intimate relations, socializing, relaxing, praying or meditating, eating, exercising, and watching TV. The least enjoyable activity was commuting, followed by working and doing housework.

Interactions with friends were rated as most enjoyable, notably more enjoyable than interactions with relatives, spouses, or children.

Although children are frequently cited as the greatest source of joy in people's lives, researchers say taking care of children isn't always enjoyable.

"When people are asked how much they enjoy spending time with their kids they think of all the nice things -- reading them a story, going to the zoo," says researcher Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan, in a news release. "But they don't take the other times into account, the times when they are trying to do something else and find the kids distracting."

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