The study was conducted by Christopher K. Hsee and Adelle X. Yang of the University of Chicago and Liangyan Wang of the Shanghai Jiaotong University.
"The general phenomenon I'm interested in is why people are so busy doing what they are doing in modern society," says Hsee.
Sure, there are reasons, like making a living, earning money, accruing fame, helping others, and so on, reported the Psychological Science journal.
But, Hsee says, "I think there's something deeper: We have excessive energy and we want to avoid idleness."
For the study, volunteers completed a survey, then had to wait 15 minutes before the next survey would be ready.
They could drop off the completed survey at a nearby location and wait out the remaining time or drop it off at a location, where walking back and forth would keep them busy for the 15 minutes.
Either way, they would receive a candy when they handed in their survey. Volunteers who chose to stay busy by going to the faraway locations were found to be happier than those who chose to be idle.