People are happy with family but happier with friends, find Study

People tend to spend more of their time doing enjoyable activities with friends than they do with family members, finds study.

Avatar Written by September 19, 2020 20:48

New Delhi: A new research has concluded that people may be more happy in hanging out with with their friends than their family, depending on the type of activity they are engaged in. The research was conducted by SMU psychology professor Nathan Hudson.

Hudson’s research finds being around romantic partners predicted least amount of happiness among these three groups.

Hudson stressed, however, that the finding has more to do with the activity than the person it is shared with. That’s because people tend to spend more of their time doing enjoyable activities with friends than they do with family members.

“Our study suggests that this doesn’t have to do with the fundamental nature of kith versus kin relationships. When we statistically controlled for activities, the ‘mere presence’ of children, romantic partners, and friends predicted similar levels of happiness,” Hudson found out.

“Thus, this paper provides an optimistic view of family and suggests that people genuinely enjoy their romantic partners and children,” he added.

In the research, more than 400 participants were asked to think back on times with their friends or family – identify the activity they shared – and rate what those experiences made them feel about various emotions, such as happy, satisfied, and with a sense of meaning. Each emotion was rated from 0 (almost never) to 6 (almost always).


The activities people most frequently perform while they’re with their romantic partners include socializing, relaxing, and eating. People tend to do similar activities when they are with their friends, too.

They just do a lot more of these enjoyable tasks while hanging with their friends and a lot less housework, the study found. For instance, 65% of experiences with friends involved socializing, but only 28 percent of the time shared with partners.

Spending time with their children also meant more time doing things that had a negative association, such as housework and commuting.

However, the activity that people reported most often with their offspring – childcare – was viewed positively.

“There’s a lesson here. It’s important to create opportunities for positive experiences with romantic partners and children – and to really mentally savor those positive times,” Hudson said.

“In contrast, family relationships that involve nothing but chores, housework, and childcare likely won’t predict a lot of happiness,” Hudson added.