What is the meaning of 'work hard, play hard'?

Although some people describe their lifestyle with the phrase "Work Hard, Play Hard", until recently there"s been no real proof that those who push themselves in a career are also driven lớn succeed at hobbies.

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"The manifesto has been around for a long time," says Professor Lonnie Aarssen, a biologist at Queen"s University in Kingston, Ontario. "There are a lot of things that people know are probably true, but no-one"s bothered lớn actually collect any empirical data with statistics."

After searching the scientific literature, Aarssen found little evidence of a links between being motivated lớn succeed at both work & play. "Most of it was anecdotal," Aarssen tells gamesbaidoithuong.com. "There wasn"t really any empirical support khổng lồ say these two descriptors of motivation actually vì chưng tend khổng lồ be found together."

This prompted Aarssen và his student Laura Crimi to chạy thử the "Work Hard, Play Hard" hypothesis. Their study, published in The Open Psychology Journal, involved an online survey of almost 1400 undergraduates at Queen"s University.

Questions were asked khổng lồ measure each student"s attitude toward several aspects of life: queries related to lớn work included whether it"s important to get the highest grades và have a prestigious job, for example, whereas questions about play included whether sports & watching movies are important lớn happiness.

Answers and scores were then combined inlớn six measures: attractions khổng lồ religion, parenthood, accomplishment, leisure, mortality salience (understanding death) & negative mood. Although the data revealed several connections between the measures, one relationship stood out: a strong correlation between attraction lớn accomplishment và attraction khổng lồ leisure.

Relationship between attraction khổng lồ accomplishment và attraction to lớn leisure for 1396 students in... <+> Canadomain authority (Graph CC BY-NC 4.0: Aarssen và Crimày / The mở cửa Psychology Journal)

"People who work hard really vì chưng play hard," says Aarssen. His results show that almost 40% of the data is explained by the links between accomplishment and leisure. Both were also correlated with mortality salience, which suggests that understanding death influences whether you"re motivated khổng lồ succeed in life.

Aarssen"s stats show that individuals can be grouped inlớn one of three personality types: low religion and parenthood (red dots in the graph); high religion and parenthood (green); low religion but high parenthood (blue). Simply put, people were "apathetic", "religious và family-orientated", or a "secular go-getter" type. So religious people are less likely to lớn "Work Hard, Play Hard".

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NEXT: Evolutionary explanations for what drives a "Work Hard, Play Hard" lifestyle

Why is there a liên kết between desire for success in both work và play? Although this isn"t yet clear, it may have sầu something lớn vì with the motivations that drive our life choices.

Courage Wolf (Image CC BY 4.0: JV Chamary)

Aarssen, the author of What Are We? Exploring the Evolutionary Roots of Our Future, believes that people are motivated by four fundamental drives. Most animals have sầu two of these: a "sex drive" & "survival drive". The other two might be unique lớn humans: a "legacy drive" -- a desire to lớn leave a permanent mark on the world -- & a "leisure drive". So these are effectively behind the attraction to accomplishment và leisure, or work and play.

According lớn Aarssen, the two human drives originate from being aware of our own mortality: a legacy drive lets us leave something behind after we die (the delusion that we can transcover our demise), while a leisure drive sầu distracts us from worrying about death -- what Aarssen calls "self-impermanence anxiety".

He speculates that our ancestors were able khổng lồ survive sầu by evolving the ability to ignore their death. "They had these domains of protection from self-impermanence anxiety that therefore didn"t compromise their reproductive sầu success, so they propelled their genes into lớn future generations."

While there"s no evidence of "genes for legacy" or "genes for leisure", research in evolutionary psychology does suggest that personality has a genetic component. "Our personalities don"t just get formed by our environment," Aarssen explains. "They also interact with genes that we"ve sầu inherited from ancestors that were important in rewarding reproductive sầu success."

Whatever the reason for a link between legacy và leisure drives, the phrase "Work Hard, Play Hard" is clearly more than just a motto lớn lớn guide an individual"s lifestyle -- it"s a maxlặng that may be true for humans in general, especially amuốn non-religious "go-getters".


I"m a science communicator và award-winning journadanh sách with a PhD in evolutionary biology. I specialise in explaining scientific concepts that appear in popular culture & mainly write about health, nature and giải pháp công nghệ. I spent several years at BBC Science Focus magazine, running the features section & writing about everything from gay genes and internet memes khổng lồ the science of death và origin of life. I"ve also contributed to lớn Scientific American and Men"s Health. My lakiểm tra book is "50 Biology Ideas You Really Need to lớn Know".