Most People Prefer Electric Shocks Than to Think Alone for 15 Minutes, Says Study

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A new study by psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities claims that most people would rather endure painful electric shocks than sit by themselves in a chair and think their own thoughts for 15 minutes.

Two-thirds of the men tested pressed a button for an electric shock, while 25 percent of the women chose to be jolted, says the report that was published in the journal Science. One man in the study actually shocked himself 190 times.

Over 200 people, aged 18-77, were tested in 11 separate trials.

Scientists asked people to sit alone in a room, without a smartphone or anything to read or watch. The folks had to entertain themselves with their own thoughts between six and 15 minutes.

The AFP reports that "more than 57 percent found it hard to concentrate and 89 percent said their minds wandered."

Some college students were asked to do the same test at home, but 32 percent cheated by listening to music or checking their smartphone.

The electric shock portion of the test was only used on college students. The study found that 12 of 18 men chose to be jolted as did six of 24 women rather than sit in silence for 15 minutes.

"Imagine the setup, a person is told to sit in a chair with wires attached to their skin, and a button that will deliver a harmless but uncomfortable shock, and they are told to just sit there and entertain themselves with their thoughts," Jessica Andrews-Hanna, of the University of Colorado, told The Guardian.

"As they sit there, strapped to this machine, their mind starts to wander, and it naturally goes to that shock, was it really that bad?" added Andrews-Hanna. "What are the experimenters really interested in? Perhaps this is a case where curiosity killed the cat."

Sources: Science, AFP, The Guardian


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