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Would you rather be alone with your thoughts or endure electric shocks?

Psychology, Research

Imagine you’re asked by researchers to spend 6 to 15 minutes in a sparse room with only your thoughts for company. Would you enjoy the experience? Would you let your mind wander, taking pleasure in this rare opportunity to aimlessly daydream?

Many participants in the studies found it intensely difficult to do nothing. As reported in The Independent: “One study had to be abandoned after an experimenter left behind a pen and the subject started drafting a to-do list; another was scrapped after an instruction sheet was forgotten and the subject took the opportunity to practice their origami.”

The researchers then upped the ante by leaving electric shock equipment in the room, and observed: “What is striking 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.”

For more on this, see:

Christian Jarrett writing for the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest
Some people would rather shock themselves than spend time with their own thoughts

Tom Stafford writing for Mind Hacks
Do we really hate thinking so much we’d electrocute ourselves rather than do it?

Photo Credit: oskay

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