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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Solitary thinking: Simply unbearable

Playground  Distraction   (Photo by Chris Darling)
During the hustle and bustle of daily life, many adults might long for an escape from it all.  However, most people could not last longer than a few minutes without longing for distractions from solitary thinking.

Gregory Barber of NPR’s “all tech considered” blogs about the irony of this situation.  He cites a University of Virginia study in which participants were simply asked to “step into an empty room, sit down, and think.”

Allegedly due to their “mammalian” brains which require a steady stream of “physical engagement,” these participants were soon reaching out for a nearby shock device, which they were warned about in advance.

This “rudimentary shock device” contained a 9-volt battery that administered a “severe static shock” when touched.  Even while knowing this, many participants reached for this “sole form of electronic entertainment in the room.”

In other words, they would rather be negatively distracted by a harmful device than relegated to focusing solely upon their own thought processes.

University of Virginia’s Timothy Wilson explains that this tendency stems from “animal instincts.”  He explains that people therefore think best when mildly distracted by a physical activity such as walking or driving.


Copyright July 6, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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