The Doctor's Wife
- Oct 20, 2011
- Miami, Florida
- Basic Beliefs
Would you rather:
- Be alone and do nothing for 15 minutes, or
- Be administered a mild electric shock
A U.S. study published on Thursday showed that most volunteers who were asked to spend no more than 15 minutes alone in a room doing nothing but sitting and thinking found the task onerous.
In fact, some of the volunteers, men in particular, in one of the 11 experiments led by University of Virginia researchers preferred to administer mild electrical shocks to themselves rather than sit and do nothing.
“Many people find it difficult to use their own minds to entertain themselves, at least when asked to do it on the spot,” said University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy Wilson, who led the study appearing in the journal Science. “In this modern age, with all the gadgets we have, people seem to fill up every moment with some external activity.”
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/uov-dsi063014.phpThe researchers took their studies further. Because most people prefer having something to do rather than just thinking, they then asked, "Would they rather do an unpleasant activity than no activity at all?"
The results show that many would. Participants were given the same circumstances as most of the previous studies, with the added option of also administering a mild electric shock to themselves by pressing a button.
Twelve of 18 men in the study gave themselves at least one electric shock during the study's 15-minute "thinking" period. By comparison, six of 24 females shocked themselves. All of these participants had received a sample of the shock and reported that they would pay to avoid being shocked again.
"What is striking," the investigators write, "is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid."