SHOCK ME, shock me, shock me with that deviant, or rather, totally absurd behavior. Because a recent study published in the journal Science found that most people would rather self-administer an electric shock to themselves than sit alone in a room for 15 minutes with no other activities.
“In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.”
While it’s pretty easy to turn and point a finger at technology and our obsession with all things social media (cc: endless scroll), ladies can rest a little easier than the men, because the study was heavily skewed based on gender.
A whopping 67% of the men involved shocked themselves, while only 25% of women did. Without getting super gender stereotype-y up in here, I’m sure you can think of a guy or two who can’t be alone with his thoughts, because… that’s when reflection kicks into low gear. (Or is that just my dating life?) Thinking means unexpected emotions. Which sounds a whole lot cheaper than therapy.
The people who did choose to shock themselves went for an average of 1.47 times per 15 minutes, except for this one dude who did it 190 times. A tidbit he might want to list in his Tinder profile just as a heads up.
After all that the sitting and shocking fun the researchers didn’t get many enlightening answers about why people don’t like to sit and think, just that they don’t, but their best guess is as follows:
“Research has shown that minds are difficult to control, however, and it may be particularly hard to steer our thoughts in pleasant directions and keep them there. This may be why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation and other techniques, with clear benefits. Without such training, people prefer doing to thinking, even if what they are doing is so unpleasant that they would normally pay to avoid it. The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself.”
Don’t be scared, it’s just your mind you guys. And although we’ve indeed Tumblr’ed down a dark hole we can rest easy knowing that there might at least be electricity down there.