Study: People prefer electric shocks to being alone with their thoughts


Study finds that Scientists enjoy electrocuting people.


We have conditioned ourselves to expect constant stimulus - noise, music, images, written words on almost every surface. Is it surprising then that relaxing in a non-stimulating environment would provoke anxiety? Peace takes practice, just as much as Twitter does.

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I like both… Didn’t RTFA, do they let you control the voltage to see how high one can go?


I wonder how it would break down with respect to introvert vs. extrovert. I am an introvert, and would also have no problem sitting quietly and still for 15 minutes or longer. I feel like these are related, but have nothing to cite.


Could somebody please summarize the study? I stopped reading because I got distracted halfway through.

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Exactly. I can’t fathom how someone would find it so horrible to be alone and quiet for a quarter of an hour. Sounds like heaven to me.

(edited because my fingers can’t spell today)


Good point. I’m an introvert as well and enjoy spending some time sorting my thoughts and exploring ideas by having internal dialogues. I have a lot of trouble understanding how 15 minutes of quiet solitude could be considered a challenge (a couple of hours, maybe…).

Maybe this explains why several people thought I had mild autism as a child, seeing me frequently stare into space or at a specific object for extended periods without talking or moving. Now people tease me about ‘spacing out’ but I am actually solving various issues and finding out interesting things in my life when I do that. It is extremely useful. Just sitting and thinking by itself isn’t that common an activity, I guess, but it is very much an activity.


Most people are weird.


At first I was reading the article thinking - wait, I occasionally though rarely meditate, but often sit and think quietly with no other distractions. I also know lots of people who meditate or even go into sensory deprivation chambers. But then I realized, that one difference is choice. There are times I want to do those things, times which may total half an hour a day or so. Being ordered to do it at other times feels unpleasant.

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Many people also like to put painfully spicy condiments on their food, rather than endure the boredom of a bowl of plain white rice. Then there’s this…

I remember at Disneyland in the 1960s there was an old-time penny arcade on Main Street that had a “test your strength” or “test your manhood” machine where you grabbed onto two polished metal knobs and let an electric current pass through your body to see how long you could stand it.

It seems like it had a mechanical animation of a mounted knight charging a dragon, and if you held on long enough the knight would skewer the dragon with his lance. (Though I may be confusing the Disneyland one with another one I saw somewhere else. I loved old-time electro-mechanical penny arcade machines as a kid.)

We paid to do it, it was painful, and my buddies and I all loved it - though I think that it may have killed my friend’s new Timex that he’d just gotten for his birthday.

Edited to add:

I may have found a (bad) photo of the zapper machine. I think it’s the one to the left of the kid in blue in this photo:

From this page:

I’m just taking a walk down memory lane, don’t mind me. :smiley:


I’d rather shock myself than spend 15 minutes in a room full of people.


Just fifteen minutes? Could we make it half an hour? OK what the hell, let’s just round it up to an even hour. Another vote for “sounds like heaven” here.


Such vague and crappy science, with FAR FAR FAR too many variables uncontrolled. And a scientist who already is sure he knows several of the answers, all evidence to the contrary.



I’d enjoy the quiet time, too.

I want to know more about the subjects. Meditation being a correlating factor makes sense. So does being introverted. Did the subjects self-select for extroversion, by volunteering? (Assuming they were volunteers; being introverted and reserved, I am unlikely to volunteer for such a study.)

What about the age range of the subjects? Were they all in their late teens and early twenties - drawn from the University student body? Were any studies done on middle-aged people, or elders? I’d generalize that younger people are a bit restless anyhow, while older folk are a bit more settled.

Well. If I was left alone in a room where I had the option to shock myself or sit quietly and think, I would probably push the button as well just out of curiosity. I mean, sure, it could possibly hurt but how painful is “painful”? Surely they wouldn’t leave me in here with something dangerous. Maybe I’m just a curious person but I don’t see how anyone could not shock themselves in such a situation.


I came here to post some witty remark. But after reading your reply… yea this does sound kinda ‘junky’ to me.

The BB headline implies that people thoughts are so terrible some how that they would prefer physical pain rather then to face them.

I would suggest that it may be more closely related to ‘getting things over with’ so they can get their Olive Garden gift card compensation and go.

I’ve always found this amended form to be more accurate myself

Why not both?

There are three types of troubling intrusive thoughts: violence, sex, and blasphemy.

Blasphemous thoughts gave me a bit of chuckle because it never occurred to me that someone would be panicked by this. But apparently this is a big problem with devout people. It sounds more like a party game actually, but it would get stale fast because everyone would be thinking of the Virgin Mary doing an unnatural act with a donkey.

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