But there is a tension in us between our desire for activity and inactivity. Given a choice we’ll remain idle—whether happily or otherwise—but at the same time we take almost any excuse to be busy. And let’s be honest, some of these excuses are pretty flimsy (how else can you explain train-spotting, shoe shopping or golf?).
This tension is very nicely demonstrated in a recent study by Hsee et al. (2010). When given the choice, participants preferred to do nothing, unless given the tiniest possible reason to do something: a piece of candy. Then they sprang into action.
That’s what in US. In China people may not need candy but just to stay competitive is the driver.
Lab also tends to reduce variability of people because they are paid to be idle.