People, especially men, prefer electric shock to thinking

By Amanda Stewart,

Most people hate being alone with their thoughts, but according to a new study most people, especially men, would rather be in pain.

The study, published on Thursday, showed that most volunteers would rather having a mild electric shock than spend 15 minutes alone thinking, according Reuters.

Over 800 people were involved in the study, which included both college students and adults.

Researchers, according to Washington Post, found in their study that a quarter of women and two thirds of men would rather receive electric shocks to their body than be in their own company.

In some experiments, college students were asked to sit alone in an empty room and spend six to 15 minutes doing nothing but thinking or daydreaming. They were not allowed to have a cellphone, music player or reading material and they had to stay awake.

Most of the students reported that they did not enjoy the sitting alone and thinking and found it hard to concentrate on anything.

“We went into this thinking that mind wandering wouldn’t be that hard,” said Timothy Wilson, lead author of the study. “People usually think of mind wandering as being a bad thing, because it interrupts when you’re trying to pay attention. But we wanted to see what happens when mind wandering is the goal.”

Despite the fact that most people have great memories that they could think about, Wilson and his team found that the subjects in the study struggled with being alone and just thinking. Researchers tried to make the task of doing nothing easier for the subjects.

“We gave them time to prepare so they could think about what they were going to spend their time thinking about,” said Wilson.

Many who participated in the study admitted to cheating by picking up a phone or a book and most reported that six to 15 minutes of thinking was extremely unpleasant.

Since the subjects found distraction welcome, Wilson and his team provided a device for distraction, but picking it up would also give an electric shock. Wilson thought to himself “no one was going to shock themselves by choice.”

Researchers were shocked at what they saw. When left alone, the subjects touched the device and received a shock, on average, seven times. One man, not included in the study, shocked himself 190 times.

Six out of the 24 women shocked themselves and 12 out of the 18 men shocked themselves. Authors of the study said that this is because men tend to be more “sensation seeking.”



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