Actually, People Still Like to Think


If you were left alone in a room with no technology and minimal furniture would you go crazy or enjoy getting lost within your own thoughts? Ferris Jabr from The New Yorker wrote this piece on how people still like to think despite what some other research had concluded.

This past July, Science published a paper with an alarming conclusion: most people would rather give themselves an electric shock than be alone with their thoughts. A slew of news stories followed, seizing on this dramatic evidence of our inability to be content without external distractions. “I was surprised that people find themselves such bad company,” Jonathan Schooler, a University of California, Santa Barbara, psychologist, who was not involved in the study, told the Boston Globe.

The University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and his collaborators began the study with a simple question: When our minds turn inward, “is it a pleasing experience”? In recent years, psychologists have become increasingly engaged with the question of how the mind swivels its lens on itself, a phenomenon they have variously called mind-wandering, daydreaming, and the brain’s “default mode.” Wilson was particularly interested in whether people enjoy silent contemplation isolated from all diversions.

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