The study found that far from being fun-loving and outgoing, most people enjoyed more passive pastimes. Only a quarter of the population said that they got enjoyment out of keeping fit or visiting the gym compared to nearly two-thirds who enjoyed listening to music.
People living in Wales, Scotland and East Anglia rated sex the highest, while those in the North-east were the least likely to have sex for fun. In the North-west the favourite way of deriving enjoyment for two-thirds of people is staying in and watching television.
"People have chosen passive rather than active forms of enjoyment. This is a reaction to the relentless pace of modern life with its mobile phones, pagers, and telephones. People want to shut off and so choose passive forms of pleasure," said Professor David Warburton, from the Associates of Research into the Science of Enjoyment, at Reading University.
The National Enjoyment Report, commissioned by SEAT, the car manufacturer, is based on the responses of 1,000 people aged 16 to 65 nationwide. It found that the people in the South-west were the happiest, with more than half of them, 52 per cent, saying they spent most of the time enjoying themselves. The North-west was the next happiest place, followed by Wales and London. People in the South-east were the most miserable, with 10 per cent saying that they rarely or never enjoyed themselves.
Most people enjoyed themselves more when they were with family or friends but nearly one in 10 said that they had a better time when they were alone. People in East Anglia were the most likely to have a good time alone, with one in seven saying that they preferred it. The most sociable people were in Scotland, with 35 per cent saying they had a better time with friends.
Lack of money was cited as the main reason that prevented people from enjoying themselves, followed by time and work. One in 10 people in London said that their family stopped them having a good time, whereas one in 10 in East Anglia said it was their partner that ruined their enjoyment.
The survey revealed that young people would much rather go clubbing than have sex and that although the British male is supposed to think about sex every three minutes, only 38 per cent of men rated it highly. They preferred eating, drinking and watching television.