Hugh Pickens writes "A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as 'very happy' spend more time reading and socializing. 'TV doesn't really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,' says researcher John P. Robinson. 'It's more passive and may provide escape — especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.' Unhappy people also liked their TV more: 'What viewers seem to be saying is that while TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, "the shows I saw tonight were pretty good."' The researchers analyzed two sets of data spanning nearly 30 years (PDF), gathered from nearly 30,000 adults, and found that unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after taking into account their education, income, age, and marital status — as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness. 'TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It's habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out.'"