I Think, Therefore Shock Me

“Shock me, make me feel better, oh yeah”
Kiss, Shock Me

We have the ability to mentally detach ourselves from our surroundings and daydream, recalling the past, envisioning the future, or imagining worlds that have never existed. One might say that this ability is an integral part of what makes us human. However, if that is the case, we’ll have to accept that most people do not qualify as human, or at least that being human is just… unbearable.

In a study(1) published in Science this week, Professor Timothy Wilson and co-workers show that most people do not enjoy sitting and thinking quietly by themselves:

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.

Shocking? er… not really!


(1) Timothy D. Wilson, David A. Reinhard, Erin C. Westgate, Daniel T. Gilbert, Nicole Ellerbeck, Cheryl Hahn, Casey L. Brown, Adi Shaked, “Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind”, Science Vol. 345 no. 6192 pp. 75-77; July 2014

Featured Image: KISS

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