Most People Would Rather Shock Themselves Than Do Nothing For 15 Minutes

July 7, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Researchers from Harvard and the University of Virginia recently published a series of studies proving a simple truth — people are really, really easily bored. So bored, in fact, that most people would rather give themselves a painful electrical shock than do nothing for fifteen minutes, Arstechnica reported.

Volunteers were placed in an empty room for fifteen minutes and asked if they enjoyed it. Half of the participants did not. Then, they were asked to sit and do nothing for fifteen minutes at home. Even fewer people enjoyed that, and a third of them admitted they cheated and checked their phones or went online during that time. Finally, researchers took the study to the next level, conducting a kind of Milgram experiment for masochists. Volunteers were placed in a room where they had the option to self-administer an electric shock.

Two thirds of the men and one quarter of the women participating in the study were bored (or curious) enough that they gave themselves at least one shock during their fifteen minutes in the room. One man, who was probably having the greatest day of his life, gave himself 190 shocks in the provided time, which works out to about twelve shocks a minute. Keep doing you, dude.

This leads researchers to believe that people are willing to go to extreme measures to avoid being alone with their thoughts. We’d also factor in that very human desire to press a button, if the button is there to press. Perhaps more people should invest in a violet wand(Photo: Jonathan Cohen)