An Electric Shock is Preferable To Doing Nothing
In a recent study, participants were asked to sit alone for 15 minutes, in a room with absolutely no distractions - no phone, no book, nothing - except one: a button. The participants were told that this button would administer an unpleasant electric shock to the participant. Despite knowing this, 25% of women and 67% of men pressed the button during their time alone.
People clearly find it difficult to simply sit with only their wandering mind for company. Doing something is preferable to thinking, even if that something is unpleasant. The preference to do rather than to think, may have evolved from our animal instincts. As lead researcher Timothy Wilson told NPR: “We still have that mammalian brain that wants to engage”.
In the modern world, idle moments are rare. Smartphones offer a constant distraction from our own thoughts. We hold all of human knowledge and the ability to communicate with anyone in an instant in our pockets. The reason for the popularity of smartphones suddenly seems obvious, if even an unpleasant shock is preferable to a few moments alone.
Image Credit: hpaton1 on Flickr.