Research: Why Americans Are So Impressed by Busyness, por Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia e Anat Keinan (Harvard Business Review):
“What is a ‘weekend?’” Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, famously asked during the first season of Downton Abbey, set in 1912. The joke, of course, is that the Dowager Countess is too aristocratic to even recognize the concept of a week divided between work and leisure. Consistent with this portrayal, Thorstein Veblen, one of the biggest theorists on status signaling, suggested in 1899 that living a leisurely life and not working (what he refers to as “conspicuous abstention from labor”) is the most powerful way to signal one’s status in the eyes of others. This makes sense: if you are very wealthy, you can afford as much leisure as you wish.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and hop across the Atlantic. In today’s America, complaining about being busy and working all the time is so commonplace most of us do it without thinking. If someone asks “How are you?” we no longer say “Fine” or “I’m well, thank you.” We often simply reply “Busy!” (...)
Busyness and lack of leisure are also being more celebrated in the media. Advertising, often a barometer of social norms, used to feature wealthy people relaxing by the pool or on a yacht (e.g., Cadillac’s “The Only Way to Travel” campaign in the 90’s). Today, those ads are being replaced with ads featuring busy individuals who work long hours and have very limited leisure time. For example, recall Cadillac’s 2014 Super Bowl commercialfeaturing a busy and leisure-deprived businessman lampooning those who enjoy long vacations.
Intrigued by this phenomenon, we decided to conduct a series of studies to examine how signaling busyness at work influences perceptions of status in the eyes of others. (...)
In general, we found that the busy person is perceived as high status
Against Busyness, por Chris Dillow:
A nice post at the HBR blog by Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia and Anat Keinan describes how being busy is now celebrated as a symbol of high status.
This is not natural. Marshall Sahlins has shown that in hunter-gather societies (which were the human condition for nine-tenths of our existence) people typically worked for only around 20 hours a week (pdf). In pre-industrial societies, work was task-oriented; people did as much as necessary and then stopped. (...)
The backward-bending supply curve of labour was normal.