In April 2013, the P&G Group (Pampers, Ariel, Always, Gillette, Braun …) published a study entitled « The EveryDay Effect » aimed at understanding the power of habits, more specifically the impact of everyday actions and those relative to one’s happiness, well-being and development. This study was conducted in March 2013 with 12,364 people in twelve European countries. (1)
« The idea of routine has a bad image in public opinion: ‘it is necessary to break the habits’, ‘break the daily grind!’ It seems to evoke only repetition and boredom, narrow and sad lives through recurrence of repetitive meaningless actions (…),” says Jean-Claude Kaufmann, a sociologist and director of research at CNRS, he adds: “But there is another completely different side to everyday life, more reassuring and promising. It is even considered as the main feature of the human condition, a structural link that makes sense of and helps build our relationships. » (1)
The routine: an essential foundation for everyday life
If some routine did not exist, everyday life would be impossible. Without regular habits and a well-organized daily life, individuals would be exhausted and they would have difficulty managing their time.
« We record non-consciously millions of marks and patterns of actions that allow us to « run ourselves », the daily actions are linked smoothly, without hesitation or mental stress. » notes the P&G study.
Childhood and the transmission of daily values
Unconsciously, these routine practices shape our everyday lives and are inherited during childhood. Intuitively, the respondents in the study of P & G say they have adopted a whole set of habits as children in their families. 76% of respondents said that small things, rather than the large ones, experienced during childhood had an impact on their lives today. Moreover, 60% of them want it to share them with their own offspring.
Although adolescence is characterized by a break from family models, as soon as they start living as a couple and constructing their own homes, individuals will draw on one’s family values. They serve as landmarks to build their own private sphere.
According to the sociologist Martine Segalen, today the family can no longer guarantee the inheritance of status or wealth, but rather the legacy of memory and a family culture in which everyone can draw at will by prioritizing emotional ties. « What characterizes the family bond today is the support of the older generation to the younger (…) this bond is even stronger now that it is woven into the respect of each other’s values, also the fact that there have been great progress in terms of tolerance and listening throughout the generations (…) the standards are much more flexible, which allows everyone to be able to navigate. Paradoxically, it is because we no longer depend on others that we may be linked to them. « (2)
« After this brief rupture with youth, the power of the little things acquired during childhood regain importance and remind us where we come from, » notes the study P & G.
This evolution is symbolized by the attachment to different categories of consumer products. Young people give strong importance to personal care products (49% of 18-24 year olds believe that personal care products have the most positive impact on their lives), however the more the years pass, the more individuals are attached to house maintenance products (58% of participants over 65 years old consider household products as being the most important). This figure assumes that as the years go by, people focus more on their homes and less on their own desires.
The everyday life is embodied by central objects in our lives
The P & G study is based on a clear example to illustrate the place of objects in the daily lives of individuals: when the washing machine breaks down, everyone realizes how difficult it is to live without it. It is thanks to these objects part of the daily life, that every day is easier. 57% of French respondents believe that today’s appliances, like their dishwashers, allow them to spend more « quality time » with their families.
Nevertheless, some routine habits are to blame and should be changed. For example, most respondents of the P & G survey believe that personal care (washing ourselves, applying makeup or shaving, and getting dressed) is too sloppy. The same goes for cooking and preparing meals, whereas they could have used their inactive time in front of the TV more wisely. Thus, 77% of respondents say it is important for them to take the time to eat properly, even if they do not always do.
The time spent in the bathroom is essential to the development
Individuals are likely to want to make more time for personal care. Indeed, 91% of French respondents believe it is very important to have enough time to take care of yourself (bathing, dressing …) “The morning has become a « time for the identity », for self-reflection and on the day ahead, » explains the study P & G. The bathroom has become an essential intimate space of everyday life (see the article « Women and their bodies: I love you, me neither »)
The comforting sweetness of « home »
The survey respondents overwhelmingly report being attached to their “home values”, especially when it comes to their families, children and spouses. 72% of French also believe they still need the little things in life that make them happy in this period of austerity. Basically, daily family life is what matters most to people.
« With the crisis, people have realized that the world can be unpredictable and threatening, leading them to focus on the family unit, which is considered the most reliable, » Gérard Mermet, a sociologist and the President of the research firm analysis, Francoscopie. (3)
Friendship: the key to daily flourishing
54% of women surveyed said that a thoughtful gesture from a friend or someone close is equivalent to a good day, this is also the case for 43% of men. On their side, they are saying that an unexpected hug leads them to say they had a good day (against 30% of women). Thus, emotional relationships are paramount and positively impacting the everyday lives of men and women. In fact, 62% of French believe that their daily well-being would be compromised if they did not spend time with their friends.
(1) Survey conducted by SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) from P & G on a panel of 12,364 people representing 12 European countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Sweden Study, Switzerland , France), March 2013
(2) Humanities Magazine, Interview with Martine Segalen, 15/06/2011,
(3) Decoding ING Direct survey, TNS Sofres, 2012 http://www.metrofrance.com/info/la-famille-valeur-refuge/mlgc!FeDIMsd4RjVwI/
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