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Would you choose to sit and think for fifteen minutes, or give yourself a slight electrical shock instead? Researchers at the University of Virginia determined that about a quarter of women and two-thirds of men tend to choose electric shocks over their own company.
Over 800 people participated in the study, reports Reuters, and participants were asked to sit in a bare room and spend up to fifteen minutes doing nothing but thinking. No cellphones, music, television, or reading and writing materials were allowed. Participants were asked to simply remain in their seats and awake during the experiment.
The result? Most did not enjoy the task, and reported that it was hard to concentrate without any external stimuli.
According to the Washington Post, most people chose an electrical shock over the fifteen minutes of thinking, regardless of how much time they were given beforehand to plan, or the fact that they were given a sample shock to take away the curiosity factor of how painful the decision would be.
Reportedly, 6 of the 24 women shocked themselves, and 12 of the 18 men also chose to voluntarily. “We went into this thinking that 'mind wandering' wouldn't be that hard,” said Timothy Wilson, the lead author of the study. “We have this big brain full of pleasant memories, and we're able to tell ourselves stories and make up fantasies. But despite that, we kept finding that people didn't like it much and found it hard.”
For more information about the study, please visit EurekAlert.org.