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SUMMARY

We study life satisfaction data from the 2005 World Values Survey and a 2009 survey of users of the virtual world Second Life. Second Life users do not have the same demographic profile as the general population, but the differences are not as large as we expected. The mechanisms and causes of life satisfaction seem to be similar in the two samples. Among Second Life users, satisfaction with their virtual life is higher than satisfaction with their real life. Regression analysis indicates that people in certain life situations, such as unemployment, gain more life satisfaction from ‘switching’ to the virtual world than from changing their real-life circumstances. In other words, an unemployed person can become happier by visiting Second Life rather than finding a job. Correspondingly, problems in real life are positive predictors of intense use of virtual life.