People hate just sitting and thinking so much they'd rather shock themselves

Originally published at: People hate just sitting and thinking so much they'd rather shock themselves | Boing Boing


Of course, the other way to look at it is people are so curious, they’d rather play with whatever’s available in their immediate environment than sit and stare off into space.


Yeah. This is a great point. Spending 15 minutes alone with my thoughts is easy. Resisting the temptation to push a button isn’t so easy.

homer simpson GIF


We don’t give anyone much time to just sit and think these days, so few people have any idea of what it feels like. We are bombarded with visual stimulation just about all of the time and few people are allowed to enjoy their thoughts. Kids are penalized for “daydreaming” and most of their activities are adult-led and monitored, with “progress” constantly expected. Adults are overwhelmed with responsibilities, told that they must be involved in online engagement somehow, discouraged from spending time alone, being quiet.


If I’m going to sit with my thoughts, most days, I need more than a few minutes. I have to get through the rush of intrusive thoughts or bad memories, current outstanding tasks and stressors and future anxieties, then try to patch myself up with affirmations, and if successful, relax into normal healthy thoughts. That can take a while depending on stress levels, so if I don’t have enough time and space to get through the cycle, it’s not worth it. Even then, or if the cycle happens to move quickly, I may very well be asleep within 5-10 mins. Better to be distracted.


Personally I think I could manage to just sit and think for 15+ minutes. But having any stimulation at all would make it easier. In an empty room sort of situation I can see taking the electric shock for the quick exit.

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In before some SV bro invents the Pain Glove from WH40k.


Just went thru 2 days without power and I did some sitting and thinking, walking and thinking, thinking and falling asleep. I didn’t really come up with any good ideas, but still better than an electrical shock.


The amount of time i just sit around lost in my thoughts takes up a goodly portion of my day. Sounds like some people avoid introspection, but beyond that do people not day dream or think about random shit? I make up stories in my head all the time


it’s worth noting that not all of the studies involved electric shocks. and, also that the studies aren’t really described all that well

In study 7, we instructed college-student participants to complete the study at home, by clicking on a link to a Web program when they were alone and free of external distractions. Many participants found it difficult to follow these instructions: 32% reported that they had “cheated” by engaging in an external activity (such as listening to music or consulting their cell phones) or getting up out of their chair. Furthermore, there was no evidence that participants enjoyed the experience more when they were in the privacy of their homes.

that’s it. that’s all that’s there. even the link to their own study data seems to only include studies 9,10, and 11

why would anyone enjoy the activity of sitting for a time at their screen doing nothing? why wouldn’t you cheat? did they even know how long it would take? do we? were they paid? was it for class credit? how much homework did they have left to do that evening?

it doesn’t really seem all that surprising


Ha! I spend at least a good half hour every night with my thoughts while I’m trying to get to sleep.

Unimpressed Schitts Creek GIF by CBC


I didn’t read more than what was posted here but i’m assuming people had the opportunity to also shock themselves?

As someone who’d be fine sitting for a time, I would also be like
‘hm I wonder how long i can take this shock.’
‘I wonder if this hurts.’
‘I wonder if maybe pain is just in the mind…’
‘am i just fiddling with this cause I’m bored?’



Sitting around alone shocking yourself is boring. That’s clearly a group activity! :zap: :zap: :zap:

No kidding?

Shocked Futurama GIF

If I take the time of just sitting around and thinking to take a nap do I lose the challenge? What if I’m joined by a cat who demands petting? What are the parameters here?

Given the choice between sitting around in an empty void (presumably on the ground, least you spin around in your chair and entertain yourself with an external activity) and doing so with a shiny rock to play with, I suspect most people are going to take the rock! Have the people conducting this study never met a human before?


That’s… not what the study seems to have found:

I.e. more than half (most) reported enjoyment above the midpoint on the scale, which is to say they did enjoy the experience. (Edit: and this assumes the scale is “I hate this” to “I love this,” making the midpoint “meh.” If the scale is simply degrees of enjoyment, then everyone liked it to some degree, just not necessarily as much as various activities.)

Seems to me that, assuming the study had equal gender participation, this either means that there’s no connection between not enjoying sitting alone thinking and men just enjoy shocking themselves (for reasons), or most men don’t like sitting alone, thinking, to such a degree that they’d rather shock themselves (and most women enjoy it).

Yeah, same - these people shocking themselves to avoid it are completely incomprehensible to me.

If someone says, “Pressing this button will give you an electric shock,” in the context of an experiment, I figure either the button does nothing, or it’ll give me an electric shock. I already know how that feels, so I’ve got zero curiosity in this situation.


I feel like a lot of people (especially younger guys) would do it at least once due to both boredom and curiosity.

Though if you do it more than once to try it out, and are distracting yourself from your own thoughts, maybe, uh, I dunno, read a self help book?


This part is what really jumped out at me! Disclaimer: I haven’t read the whole study, but the gender disparity is pretty big.
Reminded me a bit of this comic

Mainly in the way that, for a woman, it might be a really nice respite to sit in a blank room and be told not to do anything for a little while, but for a man it might be a real struggle because…I don’t quite know why but I’m sure someone will give me a clue :wink:


Yeah, but what kind of shock? How intense is it? Will it be stronger than the tesla coil i touched in high school? Worse than the little tingle I get from the coffee grinder? There are so many variables.


Not a lot of variables, as you know it’s going to be somewhere between “unpleasant” and “painful” (but not so much that it goes into “dangerous” territory). So not a lot of curiosity there, either.

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