Has anyone else noticed the explosion of psychology as news? Every day now, the newspapers are awash in this survey or that. For newspapers it’s cheap news, of course, certainly compared with having reporters on the Macedonia border or embedded in Raqqa, and it reflects our ongoing obsession with ourselves. Some of the survey samples are very small, and the results are often contradictory. Over the next few weeks, I am going to (try) to draw attention to some of the surveys, give their results and try to put some context around what they have come up with.
I was particularly taken with a French study, which showed that more people are bored in France than anywhere else in Europe. This is so, apparently, partly because France is a heavily nationalised state, and more people there than elsewhere have jobs in nationalised industries. Many of these jobs are in fact non-jobs. In one revealing case, the individual concerned started work at 8.30 am and, on average, had to deal with eight (that’s 8) emails a day. As a result, his working day was usually over by 9.05 am and he was staring at seven-and-a-half hours of doing not very much. No wonder he was bored stiff for most of the time.

But the French – or the French unions – are adamant that their system doesn’t need to change, that “Anglo-Saxon” work habits (frantically busy, snatched sandwich lunches) are inimical to civilisation. But there is more to life than an agreeable lunch, n’est-ce pas? As Freud for one pointed out, work and love are the two most important ingredients in a happy/satisfied life. So, perhaps, after answering eight emails, our Frenchman has seven-and-a-half hours to re-arrange his love life. Very civilised.