Study: Two-Thirds of Men Prefer Electric Shock to Being Alone With Thoughts

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Study: Two-Thirds of Men Prefer Electric Shock to Being Alone With Thoughts

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A study published in the journal Science shows 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women would prefer a quick, electric shock to sitting by themselves and thinking.

When was the last time you were alone with your thoughts? No cell phone, no computer, no books, just you and your gray matter? And can you remember how long you were able to hold your own attention? This was a question that a team of scientists, led by University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy Wilson, wanted to answer.

"We went into this thinking that mind wandering wouldn't be that hard," Wilson said. "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." Wilson and his team published their findings in the journal Science recently, and the results they found, well, shocked them. Test subjects, both in a controlled environment and at their homes, were asked to sit by themselves and think for 6 to 15 minutes, and many reported that they cheated and whipped out a cell phone or started listening to music before that time elapsed. Even those who got through it said the experience was difficult or unpleasant.

After a few other iterations on the experiment, Wilson and company decided to offer one form of stimulation for their volunteers - a device that would give them a small shock from a nine volt battery if they pushed a button. "It dawned on us: If people find this so difficult ...would they prefer negative stimulations to boredom?" Wilson said. The volunteers were never forced to use the machine, and Wilson and his colleagues at first thought it wasn't even worth doing. But at the end of the new test, 67 percent of men, or 12 out of 18, and 25 percent of women, or six out of 24, decided to shock themselves. According to The Washington Post:

One man (whose data was left out of the study) shocked himself 190 times. "I have no idea what was going on there," Wilson said. "But for most people, it was more like seven times."

Also interesting to note - before stepping into the room, most participants said they would pay money not to be shocked. The study submitted by Wilson and his team attribute the behavior of the men to males being more prone to "sensation seeking" than women.

According to the Washington Post, the researchers are still trying to figure out exactly why this behavior occurs, but they hypothesize its part of the reason some seek to gain control over their thoughts with techniques such as meditation.

Source: The Washington Post

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That's depressing. Best ideas are born out of sitting alone and just thinking about stuff. How could losing yourself in thoughts be considered boring? You can do anything you want in your mind. I often hear that 70% of the population is extroverted. Could that have something with this?

Adam Jensen:
That's depressing. Best ideas are born out of sitting alone and just thinking about stuff. How could losing yourself in thoughts be considered boring? You can do anything you want in your mind. I often hear that 70% of the population is extroverted. Could that have something with this?

It's more terrifying than boring for me.

How comfortable was the chair they gave them? It is significantly harder to meditate and ponder (which is what this is) if the environment is uncomfortable.

Erm well this is certainly news to me. Kind of baffled why anyone would prefer an electric shock over sitting quietly thinking for a few minutes. Now how do we blame this phenomenon on tv or video games? :P

Also I hazard a guess that the guy who shocked himself over 190 times may have some kind of kink.

before stepping into the room, most participants said they would pay money not to be shocked.

I certainly hope no one at EA has seen this article, it might give them ideas.

Weird. I often lose hours just sitting around and letting my mind wander. It's quite enjoyable. I will never be able to understand people that can't stand their own company for even so short a time.

Introverts enjoy their own thoughts. Extroverts- not so much.

Sadly 70% of the planet falls into the latter category.

Wait, they're still alone with their thoughts except they're also choosing to give themselves electric shocks out of boredom? That's crazy.

And I would totally do that.

I actively search for time to be alone and think things out. Had no idea this was unusual. No wonder depression rates are so high and there is always a high demand for counselors. I can barely fathom what it means that most of the world is horrified by their very selves.

The Artificially Prolonged:
Erm well this is certainly news to me. Kind of baffled why anyone would prefer an electric shock over sitting quietly thinking for a few minutes. Now how do we blame this phenomenon on tv or video games? :P

Also I hazard a guess that the guy who shocked himself over 190 times may have some kind of kink.

before stepping into the room, most participants said they would pay money not to be shocked.

I certainly hope no one at EA has seen this article, it might give them ideas.

Hahahahahahahahaha ^^

Its funny because its true. And also sad :(

OT: Well...sometimes I'd really like a mindwiper as well. Its a bit too easy to get captured in the horror the is the world sometimes. Luckily for most people they manage to censor out the bits that are too horrible for them to think about or relate to. I, unfortunately, have too good an imagination, too little faith in the world/humanity and too many facts on the table to ignore it.

That said, I'm usually more comfortable by myself than in a crowd. So...strange experiment. Not too surprising though.

I dunno about others but I am a Electromaniac so I would choose being shocked over most stuff or shocking things >.>

RealRT:
It's more terrifying than boring for me.

It is literally impossible for me to understand this. I am far more comfortable being alone with my thoughts than being around other people.

Adam Jensen:
That's depressing. Best ideas are born out of sitting alone and just thinking about stuff. How could losing yourself in thoughts be considered boring? You can do anything you want in your mind. I often hear that 70% of the population is extroverted. Could that have something with this?

It's because extroversion is praised over introversion.

I mean, out of being called an "attention seeker" or a "loner", which one is more scathing and discouraging?

OT: This surprises me a bit, but not too much. Like I mentioned before, society pushes for extroversion, also because of the availability and well, quality of entertainment, it is a lot easier to get bored.

Not the point where I'd ever shock myself.

I am however, disappointed that none of the participants were reportedly thinking illicit thoughts. I mean, if you really need stimulation that badly, then you could always just think of sex. That would certainly keep your attention >.>

I'm perfectly find being alone with my thoughts, but for this experiment I don't know about women but for the guys everyone needs to be accounted one freebie with the zapper. I mean it's a button, how could you not push it at least once!

I wanted to post something meaningful about extroverts being the majority of the population... than I saw the sampple size. The study included 18 men and 24 women. Don't think it says that much, then.

Nikolaz72:
Introverts enjoy their own thoughts. Extroverts- not so much.

Sadly 70% of the planet falls into the latter category.

I'm introverted and hate my thoughts. Primarily because of my OCD. My mind loves to make associations until it hones in on the ideas of how much I am a failure of a human being and/or how much the world sucks for being based around ideas that I don't really agree with and as such puts me at a disadvantage for not conforming. It all spirals from there. I really need something to keep away from my thoughts.

That said I don't mind meditating but because of my problems I typically do it with Koans in mind.

In regards to the electrocution: Although since I actually don't mind find the feeling of being shocked painful only slightly uncomfortable due to a slightly higher pain tolerance, I may entertain myself with the electric shock thing by seeing how long I can hold onto it or something like that. I loved it whenever my friends would pass me an electric gumstick or pen, I'd just grab on knowingly hold it and just stare at them.

The Rogue Wolf:

RealRT:
It's more terrifying than boring for me.

It is literally impossible for me to understand this. I am far more comfortable being alone with my thoughts than being around other people.

Well then I guess you're quite happy with yourself. I'm not.

I'm a loner of pretty epic proportions so this makes me... really self conscious about it? Weird.

Hilarious, sure. A bigger sample size would've helped their results a bit.

Wonder if they were counting number of shocks? Because, you know, at least once has to be attributed for curiosity's sake. I would do that once, since I currently don't know what a shock feels like, but past that, if it really did hurt, I would avoid it.

Extroverts are weird. I'd rather be alone than shocked.

Were they allowed a notepad? I love being alone with my thoughts as I'm a very creative and philosophical individual, but I'll admit I'd spend the allotted time shocking myself if I wasn't able to write my ideas down (they're like clay pigeons; there for a quick flight, then vaporized so the next one can take off).

synobal:
I'd rather be alone than shocked.

I don't think it's about being alone. It's about being bored.

And honestly, if I was locked in a room with nothing to do but give myself an electric shock, I'd probably shock myself too. It's something to do I guess. Better than nothing.

Two words: Skewed study.

Actually, people do their best thinking alone. It's in packs that they are - and I quote Tommy Lee Jones - "dumb, panicky animals".

Holy christ this has to be some messed up error. What the effing hell I don't and can't believe this to be true, it has to be false. I looooove thinking to myself, its the core of my very being of having ideas to turn in to creative things like my art or my writing or even the things I do in games. How can a human being possibly LIVE without the ability to enjoy ones own thoughts, just no.

So glad to be part of the minority that enjoy thinking. I suppose people who gravitate toward web sites like the Escapist are the more thoughtful type.

LazyAza:
Holy christ this has to be some messed up error. What the effing hell I don't and can't believe this to be true, it has to be false. I looooove thinking to myself, its the core of my very being of having ideas to turn in to creative things like my art or my writing or even the things I do in games. How can a human being possibly LIVE without the ability to enjoy ones own thoughts, just no.

Obviously, you never met any of my relatives.

Milten:
I wanted to post something meaningful about extroverts being the majority of the population... than I saw the sampple size. The study included 18 men and 24 women. Don't think it says that much, then.

Yeah, as bizarre as the study is, I can't help but think that the sample size might've skewed the results. They should probably try to study again with a lot more people. If they get the same results, then... that's just weird. I actively seek out time to sit and ponder my thoughts. That we might live in a society where so many would rather suffer physical pain rather than sit with themselves for a few minutes is... discouraging. How do people live without constant stimulation?

BlameTheWizards:
Test subjects, both in a controlled environment and at their homes, were asked to sit by themselves and think for 6 to 15 minutes, and many reported that they cheated and whipped out a cell phone or started listening to music before that time elapsed.

I would cheat almost immediately, but I have tinnitus, so sitting quietly is impossible. I would much rather have music in the background than a buzzing sound. Also, I would probably shock myself repeatedly, because the shock from a 9-volt battery only gives me a pleasant tingling sensation.

That's bizarre; I've never found the prospect of being alone with my thoughts to be unpleasant, I pace around my apartment doing nothing but thinking all the time, it helps me come up with new ideas.

Does anyone here have an issue with this? If so, what makes it so unpleasant?

Nikolaz72:
Introverts enjoy their own thoughts. Extroverts- not so much.

Sadly 70% of the planet falls into the latter category.

I wonder what that says about extroverts.

This is something I find shocking, but at the same time not surprising. I know that's a confusing statement, but it's something I've suspected. People don't like to think. No one likes to take a moment to sit and be alone with their own thoughts. Left alone we analyze ourselves. That's not something people like to do. Questioning their motives and overall life style. Really I think some would realize how boring they really are if that had to listen to their own thoughts. But it could also be like telling a 4 yr old to sit still. They need something/anything to do other than sit.

The shock was a distraction and a goal of something to think of, something to pass the time.

I'm surprised so many people found that difficult. While I would rarely choose to spend my time in a such a way, I wouldn't have much problem doing so. On nights where I've had trouble sleeping I've found that mentally creating events and situations, some of them surprisingly elaborate. can help me fall asleep faster. Instead of focusing on things grounded in reality which kept me awake longer. I've even chosen to stay awake longer to finish a train of thought. It's been a great help to me, as since I was little I always found it difficult to fall asleep on most nights.

Adam Jensen:
That's depressing. Best ideas are born out of sitting alone and just thinking about stuff. How could losing yourself in thoughts be considered boring? You can do anything you want in your mind. I often hear that 70% of the population is extroverted. Could that have something with this?

There's something wrong with those people, there's been many times I've just layed in bed and let my mind wander and use it's imagination. Tis quite fun actually.

RealRT:

The Rogue Wolf:

RealRT:
It's more terrifying than boring for me.

It is literally impossible for me to understand this. I am far more comfortable being alone with my thoughts than being around other people.

Well then I guess you're quite happy with yourself. I'm not.

If I'm being honest, that's not the case. It's that I can distract myself pretty easily with my imagination.

I love having a few moments of just thinking about stuff myself. That is a bit odd, I can understand being bored can be awful, but if you can just sit around and think about stuff, it feels good. I even do it while I am running too, thinking can be incredibly entertaining if you think about the right stuff.

It probably helps that I don't have a smart phone for example, I am content to sit around doing nothing in public while others simply need stimulus via their phones.

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