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Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-your-mind dept.
sciencehabit writes "How much do we hate being alone with our own thoughts? Enough to give ourselves an electric shock. In a new study, researchers recruited hundreds of people and made them sit in an empty room and just think for about 15 minutes. About half of the volunteers hated the experience. In a separate experiment, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to push a button and shock themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think. One of the study authors suggests that the results may be due to boredom and the trouble that we have controlling our thoughts. "I think [our] mind is built to engage in the world," he says. "So when we don't give it anything to focus on, it's kind of hard to know what to do."
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Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

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  • How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:08AM (#47382761)

    "The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom"

      Arthur Schopenhauer

    • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JMJimmy (2036122) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:23AM (#47382837)

      Every time I read these types of studies I am baffled. I could sit in an empty room for days without issue. Just cause you're alone doesn't mean you're without stimuli - I actually enjoy sitting pondering problems and get annoyed when someone comes and distracts me from it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I can pace and think for hours, but I can't do that while sitting down. I think it's because my favorite activity in the world (apart from sex) is to go into the woods for hours on end, alone. Often take a canteen of water and a knife and just wander in the woods off the beaten path and think.

        Last time I found a miniature junkyard, can't even see it from satellite pictures thanks to the dense canopy. Rusted cars, construction equipment and debris, random vegetation, complete quiet.

      • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:51AM (#47382983)
        Extroverts are 'people', introverts are abnormal. When studies discover behavior closely tied to extroverted personalty types it is considered something about 'people' in general, while studies discovering behaviors related to introverts tend to be labeled as being about introverts.

        It is the classic normal/default/otherness problem, in the same basic category as when you draw a simple stick figure people think it is male unless you add something gender marking, male unless otherwise specified. In this case, extrovert unless otherwise specified.
        • Re:How fitting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by alvinrod (889928) on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:12AM (#47383389)
          If the majority of people are extroverted, how would it not be considered normal or typical behavior? The problem comes from assuming that anyone who isn't normal must have something horribly wrong with them. The number of people who are normal in most every regard must be incredibly small, which by definition also means that they're not normal.

          Either some attribute is the typical state for a person, so our brains will assume it's true unless given sufficient reason to believe otherwise, or there's another likely explanation for the behavior. In the case of the stick figure, assuming that it's drawn as plainly as possible, it better matches the mind's pattern for men due to a lack of hair and a lack of breasts. If we lived in a culture where women had flat chests and shaved their heads and men wore their hair long, most people would probably default to calling the stick figure a woman.

          Our brains are fairly good at recognizing patterns and will often try to find them in places where none exist. Even if the number of introverts and extroverts are the same, it could be simple confirmation bias as you're far more likely to engage with extroverts while introverts will keep more to themselves.
          • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Informative)

            by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:30AM (#47383493) Homepage Journal

            If the majority of people are extroverted, how would it not be considered normal or typical behavior?

            Per a 1998 study, 50.7% percent of Americans are introverts. http://introvertzone.com/ratio... [introvertzone.com]

            • by Wootery (1087023)

              Sounds like they've correctly calibrated the definition of 'introvert'.

              • by swillden (191260)

                +1

                Clearly human behavior lies along a continuum, some people are more extroverted and some are more introverted. So it seems quite expected that if you're drawing a line you should locate it so that half of the people are on each side.

        • Re:How fitting (Score:4, Interesting)

          by war4peace (1628283) on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:15AM (#47383407)

          It's okay to be an extrovert, but if you can't think alone for 15 minutes, that makes you ADHD (Or ADD)-prone.
          My take: the inability to just sit tight and think for 15 minutes is a result of how society and way of living are shaped nowadays. Instant gratification, stimuli overload, everything is faster than the speed of thought (literally).

          People get used to that way of doing things and that way of living, and when you get them out of their perceived "natural" environment, they freak out. Quite normal, all things considering, might I say.

        • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

          by marcello_dl (667940) on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:19AM (#47383425) Homepage Journal

          Before MTV, cellphones and in general the sensory overload of contemporary urban life, extroverts could stay with themselves for 15 minutes too.

          Introverts are to be considered uncool, not because they are more or less abnormal (the media hype, and therefore sanction, people with degenerate, inane, self-harming behavior: get a teenager's top 20 chart and listen to the lyrics).
          They are uncool because they think too much for themselves. The system improperly known as society want people who respond to emotions, not thinkers.

        • Is that "male unless otherwise specified" or "male because 90% of bathroom signs use it to signify male"?
      • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:07AM (#47383069)
        But the button? THE SHINY RED BUTTON! Calling out to you. Begging to be pressed. How long can you last? How long?!?!
        • Exactly. It's not about 'not wanting to be alone with your thoughts', but about curiosity and obedience.

          I thoroughly enjoy my thinking sessions, but:
          1. I do so when I feel like it, instead of when being told to.
          2. If there's a button in the room, I'm damn well going to press it. There's an obligatory xkcd somewhere below this comment that says it all.

      • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oneandoneis2 (777721) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:15AM (#47383107) Homepage

        Oblig. http://xkcd.com/242/ [xkcd.com] :)

      • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:15AM (#47383109)

        Every time I read these types of studies I am baffled. I could sit in an empty room for days without issue. Just cause you're alone doesn't mean you're without stimuli - I actually enjoy sitting pondering problems and get annoyed when someone comes and distracts me from it.

        A million times THIS!

        One of the things I ponder is that these people who cannot be alone with themselves place that need to never be alone as some sort of proper and good state, and that anyone who can function by themselves is the outlier, the weirdo, the one "you have to look out for." How many times to we see the story about some crackpot that shoots up a school or McDonalds, and the writer feels compelled to mention that they were a "loner". Validation for people who think that their inability to be alone protects them from that fate. Sorry, but the crackpot was mentally ill, that's why they shot the place up, not because they enjoyed solitude.

        When in fact, if a person cannot be alone with their thoughts, perhaps they have the mental issue. I rather enjoy my own company,

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by StripedCow (776465)

          One of the things I ponder is that these people who cannot be alone with themselves place that need to never be alone as some sort of proper and good state, and that anyone who can function by themselves is the outlier, the weirdo, the one "you have to look out for." How many times to we see the story about some crackpot that shoots up a school or McDonalds, and the writer feels compelled to mention that they were a "loner".

          The reason is that the media (especially TV) relies on people who can't think for themselves. They need people to be "social" in order to have the most impact.

        • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by eulernet (1132389) on Friday July 04, 2014 @11:11AM (#47383679)

          I believe that a lot of people need external stimuli to avoid boredom.
          In fact, my wife is like this and doesn't know how to busy herself.
          Meanwhile, I can sit down and be busy for hours without any support.

          It's probably related to the fact that I had to play alone when I was baby.
          Nowadays, I see parents always trying to stimulate their babies, who then become attention whores.
          They are building future extroverts.

        • by PPH (736903)

          some crackpot that shoots up a school or McDonalds, and the writer feels compelled to mention that they were a "loner".

          These people are pretty bad at being loners. Many of them are seeking attention. The thought that, 'Now the world will notice me!'. True loners can occupy themselves with something not dependant on societies feedback.

      • Re:How fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bogtha (906264) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:38AM (#47383233)

        I could sit in an empty room for days without issue.

        So could I. But if I was sat in an empty room with a button that gave me a shock, I'd definitely press it - not because I couldn't handle the boredom, but just to see what it's like. I'm not sure this study really measures what it intends to.

      • by alvinrod (889928)
        It does explain Facebook and Twitter and the seeming need for some people to constantly spam the rest of the world with useless information that is of no consequence to anyone.
      • by Greyfox (87712)
        I know a couple of people who can't stand quiet. There has to be a TV, radio or conversation going on constantly. I wonder what terrible thoughts must creep in the moment silence descends. I figure it must be like what Eric Cartman sees when he closes his eyes. [southparkstudios.com]
    • Re:How fitting (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:42AM (#47383561)

      The curious press a button that shocks them at least once; The masochistic press the button many more times, over and over, with rising passion and obsession until with a wild cry of raw lust their body shudders with intense release and they hear the soft singing of angels.

      Al Schopenhauer

  • Sad, sad times... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:12AM (#47382789) Homepage

    At first I assumed that the people were stuck n a room for hours upon hours with nothing to do. Then I read...


    "The period of time that Wilson and his colleagues asked participants to be alone with their thoughts ranged from six to 15 minutes. Many of the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom reported that this "thinking period" wasn't very enjoyable and that it was hard to concentrate. So Wilson conducted another study with participants from a broad selection of backgrounds, ranging in age from 18 to 77, and found essentially the same results.

    Is it just me or is it a very poor reflection on today's society if people can not just sit and think for 15 minutes?

    For the record I would have ZERO problem doing this at all... in fact I could think for hours... although having a pencil and paper to keep track of ideas and plans would be helpful.

    • I habitually retract so as to silently ruminate in a similar manner a few times a day for a period of 1/2-1 hour (not in the digestive sense, though (modulo the usual involuntary gastrointestinal processes, of course)). So far I thought everyone was doing this.
      • Perchance, does your gastric repository conceal a recently masticated pulp of wood fibers, previously incarnated as a tome of alphabetised antonyms and synonyms?
        • Why, that may indeed be the case! Although the enzymes of the foreign learner such as myself tend to have trouble with separating sesquipedalian lexemes from the quotidian ones.
        • "J'accuse!" quoth L4t3r4lu5, "A bibliophage is upon us!" As Jesus saith, cast him into the stygian periphery, where there shall be lachrymating and gnashing of dentitions.
    • by jythie (914043)
      If they found it to be consistent between 18 and 77, that is not really 'today's society'.
    • Re:Sad, sad times... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@NoSpaM.gdargaud.net> on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:14AM (#47383103) Homepage
      I also found this very strange I'm both extrovert and introvert, meaning I have to problem taking with groups of people, even at the center of attention sometimes. But I can be alone. I'm a climber and I've done numerous solo ascents and expeditions, the longest was 28 days alone. It's a good thing that nobody was around because of the smell, but I didn't have any problem 'being with myself'. I even think that people who can't stand 'being with themselves' are not people _I_ want to be with in the first place !!! I mean, if they can't stand themselves, why should I ?!?
    • by hey! (33014)

      Here's what I think is the confounding factor (there always is one): I'd be wondering, "Does that button REALLY deliver a shock, or is it some kind of sham social psychology experiment prop? I bet it's a prop. If it isn't, it won't deliver THAT bad a shock. If it is, I wonder what the researchers will do when I push it?"

      The confounding factor is curiosity. They'd have to do *two* sessions with the overly curious.

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      Many of the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom reported that this "thinking period" wasn't very enjoyable and that it was hard to concentrate.

      Don't forget that the young'uns have been indoctrinated at an early age that being by yourself is wrong. Given that the school system is a lot of people around other people, it's no surprise that people who badly need interaction with as many others as possible would be in charge.

      So here you have a lot of young people sitting in a room, alone, and with - gasp - no smartphone. This goes against everything they have been taught is right and good. I have two thoughts on the matter

      1. I'm surprised they got

    • by zmooc (33175)

      For the record I would have ZERO problem doing this at all... in fact I could think for hours...

      I bet you cannot do this on a deadline set by others in an environment you're not familiar with. You're just going to sit and wait for the researchers to come back in and announce that your "thinking" period is over. This experiment obviously fails to create the conditions that are needed to be properly alone with your thoughts.

      I would absolutely not be able to concentrate in this setting even though I have no trouble at all to be alone with my thoughts for extended periods.

    • I like to sit down with a cup of coffee for about 15 minutes in the morning and kind of mentally prepare and plan my day. It's been really nice outside {65-70F} each morning this week so I have been taking my coffee time on the patio. I've also been fishing a couple times this week, you can sit 30 minutes uninterrupted doing that also.

      I've been taking my son fishing trying to spend some father son time he's 14 and he either wants to be on the move, jigging up and down the bank, or he plays on his cellphone.

  • Are people mindless?
    • Perhaps just Americans? I can't find it at the moment, but there was an old study that showed a certain result. It was assumed the whole world was like this result. But, as it turns out, it was just the US, and most of the rest of the world reacted quite differently. The point is, we don't always make good test subjects, 'cause we are actually abnormal compared to the rest of the world.

      I would like to see this test done in a society with a history of Buddhism in their culture and see how the test goes.

    • The Power of Now (Score:4, Interesting)

      by transporter_ii (986545) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:39AM (#47382911) Homepage

      Carl Jung tells in one of his books of a conversation he had with a Native American chief who pointed out to him that in his perception most white people have tense faces, staring eyes, and a cruel demeanor. He said: "They are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We don't know what they want. We think they are mad." ...

      The Buddha taught that the root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.

      The Power of Now, p. 62 - 63.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:16AM (#47382805) Journal

    Sensory deprivation experiments, partial or full, have been going on for decades. How is this 'news' to the scientific community?

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:29AM (#47382857)

      Sensory deprivation experiments, partial or full, have been going on for decades. How is this 'news' to the scientific community?

      Maybe because this isn't really about classic "sensory deprivation." In one phase of the experiment, they even let people sit in their own homes and just asked them to just think quietly for 6 to 15 minutes. I'd hardly call that "sensory deprivation." Most people apparently HATED the experience (even more than they hated sitting quietly in a lab setting).

      I'm familiar with sensory deprivation studies, but personally I find it shocking (pardon the pun) that people are willing to self-administer painful shocks just to avoid being alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes. Don't you? Clearly the researchers did, given what they said in TFA. They even questioned why they should bother with the shock test, because they thought NO ONE would shock themselves. And yet nearly half did.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Maybe people are just overworked and don't want to waste time sitting around doing nothing. I know when I'm at home, I usually try to find something to do. Either housework, internet, reading a book, watching some TV. Sitting there idle, doing nothing isn't really all that great. I don't think I would resort to shocking myself for 6-15 minutes of boredom, but It's not really pleasant to sit and do nothing. It would be a different story if you were not at home. Think about waiting at the doctor's office. T
        • That is perfectly fine, but being bored for ten minutes and floating in a dark, sound-absorbing tank for hours are two completely different things.
        • by jythie (914043)
          One does not have to be doing something external in order to be 'doing something'. I have known plenty of people who sit and design stuff in their head for instance, or work on storylines, or rehearse talks they are planning to give, etc.
        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          Maybe people are just overworked and don't want to waste time sitting around doing nothing.

          Perhaps you aren't getting it? Perhaps that sentence holds the very key to your problem? My days are very full, and even if I appear to be sitting around doing nothing, I am doing something.

          Thinking. Planning. Calculating. All of which are performed much better when I am alone.

          Anyhow, if you are overworked, a little time to yourself might help a bit. Give you time to think about why you are overworked.

        • by BonThomme (239873)

          your language is revealing.

          "sit and do nothing"

      • I'm familiar with sensory deprivation studies, but personally I find it shocking (pardon the pun) that people are willing to self-administer painful shocks just to avoid being alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes. Don't you?

        I've not read the article, but the thought that immediately occurred to me was whether there was a curiosity element involved. i.e. did people really shock themselves because they were bored, or did they shock themselves out of curiosity to see if it really did hurt as much as they were told it would?

        Electric shocks aren't something that most people have experienced - if you were asked to cut yourself then you'd probably guess how much it'd hurt since most people have had cuts before, but if you're told "t

        • They were shocked before the experiment began, and those participating responded that they would pay NOT to receive the shock again.
      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Reduced stimulus is EXACTLY classic sensory deprivation.

        Maybe you're confusing it with total sensory deprivation.

        Remove external stimuli with a static environment, and leave a single available stimulus, guess what's going to happen...

    • by c (8461)

      It might be interesting, not to mention somewhat obvious, to quantify how much things have changed in the last decade or two given the trend towards never being more than an arms length away from entertainment.

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:23AM (#47382839) Homepage Journal

    ... And just about any form of meditation revolves about emptying your mind, focusing on your breathing and discarding thoughts (after examination) rather than dwell on them.

    I just read this study as an example of how people are completely disconnected from their own inner life and addicted to constant stimulation. Seriously, an electric shock instead of enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet and a chance to gather yourself? What kind of total lack of self-control is that?

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      Does anyone else feel like the methods or goals of "meditation" has changed over time? In an earlier, pre-industrial world meditation was forcing oneself to stay at rest without latching on to any information-bearing stimuli. Today, I personally am so addicted to the constant stimulation of high-speed internet or television, the ability to constantly jump from one thing to another, that just sitting through a long film or reading dense modernist literature requires the same amount of self-control.

      Whereas th

      • by jythie (914043)
        Well yes, of course they are going to change over time. Even if we are just going to look at historical Buddhism there are many branches and philosophies within the practice with a variety of mechanics and goals. Some forms focused on purely looking inward and ignoring stimuli, others focused on awareness of stimuli without additional thought.
      • by moeinvt (851793) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:27AM (#47383163)

        The concept of the "mind monkey" has been around for centuries in Buddhism. i.e. the mind sort of naturally jumps around like a monkey. When I took a yoga class that included meditation, the instructor said that you need to give your mind something to do. That's why you focus on your breathing. He said to let your thoughts come and go but treat them as if you were an outside observer and return your focus to your breath.
        The constant flow of information we have today absolutely must affect out psychology. Maybe our minds jump around even more? I think the goal of meditation remains the same.

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        Today, I personally am so addicted to the constant stimulation of high-speed internet or television, the ability to constantly jump from one thing to another, that just sitting through a long film or reading dense modernist literature requires the same amount of self-control.

        And how! On more than a few occasions, I've found myself with my amateur radio on, doing digital modes, while watching TV, reading a book, listening to music on youtube, and digging up some technical info on the other screen.

        That's when I know I need to get out and de-stimulate.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I just read this study as an example of how people are completely disconnected from their own inner life and addicted to constant stimulation. Seriously, an electric shock instead of enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet and a chance to gather yourself? What kind of total lack of self-control is that?

      Honestly, the first thing I thought of was people who cut themselves.

      One assumes that the inner dialog/feelings are strong enough (and negative enough) that this is seen as an "anything but that".

      The few peo

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:34AM (#47382885)

    and I like my thoughts. I just feel that I should point that out, to stop the tide of generalization.

  • 67% of men and 25% of women chose to

    ... shock themselves.

    I wonder how closely these numbers corresponded to people being introvert / extroverts, I'd expect a big correlation.

  • Facebook generation.

  • It calms me and it clears my head. Being in a with people exhausts me.
  • by dcw3 (649211)

    It would be interesting to see results of this over generations. My suspicion is that we're much more impatient now than we used to be say 30-50 years ago. I think there's a big difference between people who grew up w/o 24/7 entertainment (I call them the "I'm bored" generation), and someone who grew up like me...only child, spent summers at a cottage w/o access to TV, radio, etc, swam competitively several years...six days a week with my head in the water for several hrs. a day. There's certainly downsi

  • "What's the reason for closing down my place?"
    "I'm shocked, shocked to find there's gambling going on here."
    "Your winnings, sir."

  • by paradxum (67051) on Friday July 04, 2014 @08:59AM (#47383029)
    So I can say that without any stimulation I can sit for about a day and a half without any real problem. I get along with me just fine.

    I know this rather well due to hunting deer in Wisconsin. Yes, you sit there for a little over a week with very limited interaction. You can't make noise, you can't move too much. It's you and nature. Yes it is a type of meditation when you are not seeing any deer. For me this is what happens:
    First half a day: I have tons of things to think about. Little niggling problems that I haven't had the time to sit and think about. Typically things like how can I best fix this at the house, what would the optimal method of doing this in this program be.

    Second half of the day: Things quiet down a bit start thinking about the Wife, kids, finances... Figuring out what to do when this one or that one does something, how to best react...etc.

    Day 2 first half: Hey look... nature... that tree is kinda neat... I wonder why it grew that way...

    Day2 second half: Ok, ummmm what now.... kinda bored... what time is it... oh, two minutes since I last checked.

    Day 3+: Find things to be interested in... a single squirrel or bird can be hours of entertainment and the highlight of your day.

    6-15 minutes!?!? Man, I haven't even finished thinking about that hot girl I saw on the way in! lol
  • I wonder, was that sample of people take from a single city/state/country whatever?

    Generalising this to a study of, "People" might be more than a little misleading...

  • ! news for nerds (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlynnMP3 (33498)

    Hahaha! Funny article is funny. A large percentage of the readership of this site have no problem just sitting still and thinking. For quite a few of them, it's their job. Norms, or people not in STEM, think differently and choose not to actively use their brains.

    Who woulda thunk? The few non-STEM people that read the article will think it's sort of weird. The majority of people that it's about won't even see it. Nerds innately know this crap anyway, but are too busy going about their business to car

    • by Megol (3135005)

      Norms and nerds? Normal people often like to think about things and can spend a lot of time doing that.

  • Twelve of 18 men in the study gave themselves at least one electric shock during the study's 15-minute "thinking" period. By comparison, six of 24 females shocked themselves.

    also, what is a "mild" shock? given the option of a small shock to leave, it's no big deal, just a momentary tingle. crank it up to 240V and see how many people press the button for a full two seconds to leave early.

  • I think they need to diversify the volunteers population. They will be amazed to see how many people exists that can be up to eight hours at day without doing anything :)
  • On the other hand, there are people happily paying to go into a sensory deprevation tank.
    It's all about context. If you choose the sensory deprevation, it's relaxation, if you're put into the same situation, it's boredom.

  • ... to flip the result entirely: padded recliner.
  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Friday July 04, 2014 @10:09AM (#47383369)

    AND be shocked by my own thoughts. /trick

  • I wonder if the test would be the same if they had let people shock themselves ponce beforehand and then asked them to sit in there for 15 minutes. It seems to me that if you put a big red shiny button in front of them and tell them to ignore it, you're testing their limits of curiosity and self restraint more than their ability to sit and think quietly. It's a "Don't think about punk elephants!" situation.
  • *IF AND ONLY IF* they had agreed to sit for 15 minutes but were permitted to leave right away after shocking themselves -- and some did so, could the researchers claim that some people would rather endure a shock than be alone with their thoughts.

    As the experiment was conducted (correct me if I'm wrong!) they agreed to sit out the period alone and all of them did so. They were not asked to refrain from pressing the button..

    So the only difference from the basic experiment was the presence of the button which offered entertainment and also enlightenment -- in the form of providing the subject an opportunity to test and prove they could endure the shock, a new and unfamiliar experience.

    In this version the experimenters FAILED to provide an environment with NO stimulation. They merely reduced available entertainment options to one, the button.

    What the experiment did prove is that given time alone to think and reflect -- people will reevaluate their own aversion to an "unpleasant" sensation and decide to take advantage of an opportunity to better themselves by proving (to themselves) they can endure it.

    This is SO DIFFERENT from the conclusion that people are little scardie-rabbits who cannot endure being alone with themselves, these researchers should be ashamed of themselves for irresponsibly portraying this, or permitting this to be portrayed in the news without rebuttal. They should apologize and re-do the experiment.

    Hrrrmph. These subjects were cheated. These times are full of shoddy research and tabloid sound-bite conclusions like this.

  • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Friday July 04, 2014 @12:15PM (#47384027) Homepage Journal

    When I read this study, I had considered posting something about how this relates to prison, eg "it would be more humane to occasionally shock prisoners than just keep them in a cage". I've long thought that prison was cruel and unusual punishment, albeit not because of how they were treated but because of how it removes them from society, ironically* replacing their social support network of family and friends with a society composed of criminals and being the single biggest predictor that they will go to jail in the future. Yet I get the feeling that occasionally giving prisoners a mild electric shock would be considered cruel and unusual punishment, even if it were in lieu of some jailtime, yet hardly anyone considers that jail itself is cruel and unusual (and mostly good for turning its victims into career criminals).

    *ironically for the taxpayers and victims, good business sense for the for-profit jail managers. Gotta increase shareholder value!

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