Monday, July 7, 2014

Over 40% of us would rather hurt ourselves than think


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.

Many participants elected to receive negative

stimulation over no stimulation

especially men: 67% of men (12 of 18) gave themselves

at least one shock during the thinking period

[range = 0 to 4 shocks, mean (M) = 1.47,

SD =1.46, not including one outlier who administered

190 shocks to himself], compared to 25%

of women (6 of 24; range = 0 to 9 shocks,

M = 1.00, SD = 2.32). Note that these results only

include participants who had reported that they

would pay to avoid being shocked again.

The gender difference is probably due to the

tendency for men to be higher in sensation-seeking.

But what is striking is that simply

being alone with their own thoughts for 15 min

was apparently so aversive that it drove many

participants to self-administer an electric shock

that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.



  1. Hammock time, baby. Spent most of the holiday weekend days just there.

    Alone? Had some things to flip the cats from these guys:

    I actively meditated and hypnotised myself for say three hours on Friday.

    Is that a photo of you above? Good room, lacking an airship though.

  2. Dig: