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Pain versus mind

Many web sources are reporting this news item concerning students in a psychology experiment at the University of Virginia. In a version from ScienceAlert of Australia/New Zealand, the article is titled and subtitled: “People prefer electric shocks to quality alone time: Scientists reveal that being left alone with your thoughts is deeply unpleasant.” The Washington Post story title is: “Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts.” The original announcement in EurekaAlert reports:

Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads, according to a new psychological investigation led by the University of Virginia.

The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be published July 4 in the journal Science.

In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than to think.

URL: EurekaAlert – http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/uov-dsi063014.php
ScienceAlert – http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20140507-25820.html
Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/07/03/most-men-would-rather-shock-themselves-than-be-alone-with-their-thoughts/