People Would Rather Shock Themselves Than be Alone With Their Thoughts


Amidst all that is our busy lives, what with all our work, family, and hobbies to attend to, it may have crossed your mind that at least you, if not everyone would like some down time to themselves, to just ponder alone in their thoughts.  However, according to a study from the University of Virginia says maybe otherwise.

The study left men and women in a room ages ranging from 18 to 77 alone in an empty room for 15 minutes with nothing but their thoughts and an electric zapper that would deliver a mild shock.  So many were discomforted with nothing to do, that many opted to give themselves a little zap instead.  The study also found, amusingly enough, that men were more likely to shock themselves out of boredom than women were.

Professor Timothy D. Wilson,  also tried to have the subjects perform the test in their own homes, having them promise to turn off all their electronic devices.  Many admitted to cheating and using their devices anyways.

Wilson notes his surprise, “They liked it [the experiment at home] even less,” he says. “In fact, many people told us they cheated”.

Attaching an electrode to the subjects ankles, each one was told that they could simply entertain themselves with their thoughts, and could shock themselves with a box with a nine volt battery in it.  To the researchers shock, 12 out of 18 males shocked themselves, having already had a sample shock before the study even took place.

So what this means is that people have a tendency to need something to occupy their minds, so that they don’t have to do it themselves, but Psychotherapist Paula Carino says alone time is very much important.  She says having time to seep in our own thoughts is when we can learn to deal with difficult feelings or thoughts, so that we can “learn that we don’t have to be so reactive.” and also help us “become much more attuned to the beauty that’s right here, rather than escaping into some dopamine-fueled fantasy world”.

A good example of what Carino is saying is say you’re waiting in line at any sort of place, like the doctor’s office or the DMV.  Being able to retreat into your own silent contemplation is a good way to not sit there and stress out or feel the need to pull out your phone all the time.

Silent thought is, basically meditation, which Carino recommends, because not only does it improve one’s ability to concentrate, it also lowers blood pressure and boosts your immune system.

So next time you’re feeling  “bored”  instead of  pulling out your phone, or seeking some sort of outside stimulation, try sitting back and immerse yourself in your thoughts, and see where you can go.

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