1. I’m curious why the mental labor connection isn’t explored a bit more. On first blush, it sounds like people tend to be happier with physical labor than mental labor… or that people enjoy being mediocre mentally. That doesn’t seem quite right, and I wish I knew more about their metrics and actual tests for the mental labors they were measuring. It’s just not adding up that people want to be mentally lazy, or that mental challenges are actively deleterious.

    …but if that is one lesson to be learned here, it’s a very sad message. It would explain a lot, but it’s very sad.

    Still, a very interesting presentation, thanks!

  2. I’d posit the hypothesis that with physical labour it’s easier to slip into a zen like mental state of bliss, particularly if the effort is rhythmic in nature. Whereas with work requiring mental effort it’s not so easy (it’s possible – google “flow” on that, but it’s not easy).

    Alternatively, with work requiring mainly just physical effort the worker is thus freed up to direct their spare mental capacity towards pleasurable activities .. such as chatting & socialising with work colleagues, watching your soaps (eg. while ironing), day dreaming etc.

  3. I’m in agreement with Garumoo. When doing mechanical labor, anything rote, your brain can relax. When doing even mildly mentally challenging work, your brain stays engaged. If given a larger reward, people will try to do more work but when mentally engaged more work means less “downtime” and at the end of the day people feel more stressed, more “worked”, by their job, which in most people results in less happiness, which leads to job satisfaction issues and people going to work loathing their coming day and poor performance.

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