Men happiest online, women prefer family time: poll

SYDNEY (Reuters) - For men, bliss is often just a mouse-click away while quality time with family is guaranteed to put a smile on women’s faces, according to an Australian study of what makes people happy.

A woman walks past a billboard that Shanghinese woman Helen Zhou placed in search of a husband in Sydney October 21, 2004. REUTERS/David Gray

The “Happiness Index” study, which polled more than 8,500 Australians aged 18-64 years, showed rest and relaxation were the most enjoyable activities while physical exercise was least likely to make people happy.

“Australians are made happy on a week-to-week basis, not by possessions and achievements, but by entertaining experiences and by meaningful interactions with others,” said Karen Phillips, managing director of The Leading Edge, the business consultancy that conducted the survey over a week in August.

“This index gives insight into the way we tick, with the results being useful to Australian businesses who want to better communicate with their customers,” she added.

Both men and women -- or 63 percent of overall respondents -- picked relaxation as the activity that made them happiest, but that is where the similarity between the sexes ends.

Just over half of men said happiness meant surfing the Internet, playing online games or accessing social network sites such as Facebook, compared with only 39 percent of women.

Fifty-five percent of women said having meals and spending time together as a family made them happiest, compared to 45 percent of men. Women are also more likely than men to have been made happy by their pets.

More men than women, 48 percent versus 40 percent, found happiness being intimate with another person while 38 percent of men, and only 28 percent of women, said drinking with friends brought them joy.

More women than men said reading a good book, eating comfort food or buying gifts made them happy.

But Phillips said the survey also debunked several gender stereotypes, finding that shopping for new clothes and shoes made only 30 percent of women happy and that more men and women with children cited sex and romance as making them happy than singles.

“It’s important to not make assumptions but to do your research when utilizing happiness drivers to improve your brand’s performance,” she added.

Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Jerry Norton