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Last week, we dared you to sit quietly and watch a 3 minute video in which nothing happened. A lot of you found it too difficult to endure.
Can you sit quietly, alone, doing nothing? Can you resist the distractions of your cell phone and other electronic devices?
A study conducted by psychology professor Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia decided to test the human capacity to endure boredom. Dr. Wilson asked subjects of both genders and a wide variety of ages to sit quietly, alone in a room, for several minutes while staying awake and not doing anything. Participants were told to do nothing except amuse themselves with their own thoughts.
In his experiments, Dr. Wilson gave participants the choice between doing nothing and administering themselves electric shocks. 25% of women and 67% of men shocked themselves to avoid the agony of the alternative. Rachel Feltman writes for the Washington Post:
The researchers removed the curiosity factor by giving subjects a sample shock beforehand. They even asked them how much they would pay, given a $5 allowance, to prevent another shock. Most offered up a hypothetical dollar or two. But when left alone in the room for a 15-minute thinking session, the participants exhibited some shocking behavior. One man (whose data was left out of the study) shocked himself 190 times. “I have no idea what was going on there,” Wilson said. “But for most people, it was more like seven times.”
-via Ace of Spades HQ