The Aversion to Thinking

Would you pay not to be shocked?  All subjects say “yes.”

You will be placed in a room where you are to think for 15 minutes. As an alternative to thinking, you may shock yourself.

Huge proportions of males shock themselves, many hit the shock button multiple times. Roughly 30% of female subjects similarly opt to shock themselves rather than sit and think. This study published in Science July, 2014 by psychologists from Virginia and Harvard is troubling to say the least. But for those of us who try to teach, parent, coach, or mentor, it is downright depressing even when we cannot believe the extent of the results.

As Nadejda  Mirochnitchenko, one of my students quickly noticed, this study is only suggestive because methodologically it is not the soundest study ever conducted to say the least.

1. The test room was probably not a place where someone usually relaxes and takes a moment to think. Being commanded to think in a new environment may prove that the test subjects would be displeased with other aspects of the situation, and not necessarily thinking itself.

2. The option to shock yourself could present an curious entertaining prospect. The study may have been reporting levels of curiosity to the shocking button rather than the aversion to think.

3. Volunteer may have been expecting interaction with their researchers when coming into the study. Such an expectation may alter one’s desire to think by one’s self during the time s/he set aside to participate in the study.

Add a Comment