Health Care

More | | | Editor

Study published in 'Science' finds many dislike just sitting and thinking

Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:25 PM
Last updated Friday, July 4, 2014 1:25 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Just sitting and thinking was not enjoyable for many people and some would rather give themselves an electric shock than sit idly by, a new study found.

In a report published Friday in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Virginia asked volunteers to go into a room without their cell phones or books or any other distractions and just sit for a period of time, six minutes to 15 minutes, and entertain themselves with their thoughts.

Most found it difficult to concentrate and most of them did not find the experience enjoyable.

When asked to repeat the process at home, about a third couldn’t make it through without cheating by turning on music or checking their phones, according to the study.

A Georgia Regents University psychiatrist said most people just don’t know what to do with themselves but could learn to enjoy it with a little instruction.

“It’s something that most of society doesn’t engage in on a regular basis,” said Dr. Dale Peeples, who was not involved in the research. “Most people if they do have down time they probably are engaging in some passive activity at least, watching TV or listening to music, texting or playing on the computer. A lot of people don’t have this kind of time built into their day.”

In fact, when the Virginia researchers gave test subjects the chance to distract themselves by giving themselves an electric shock, 67 percent of the men and a quarter of the woman hit the button to shock themselves at least once, including one man who hit it 190 times. Peeples, a child psychiatrist, said some of that might just be curiosity getting the better of them.

“When I read that, what popped into my mind was if you sit a kid in a room and you tell them, ‘Don’t push this button,’ it’s kind of a guarantee they’re going to push the button,” he said.

Because sitting and thinking is not part of many people’s everyday routines, “it can be a little bit off-putting,” Peeples said. “You kind of feel like I have to be doing something, I have to be productive. I’m just sitting here wasting time.”

But there are techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness, that do take some work but can make that time enjoyable for those who want to do it, he said.

“I think if people do invest a little energy into looking at meditation, looking at relaxation exercises, which do rely on having a little downtime where you are not engaged in any other activity, people can find that extremely refreshing once they learn how to make use of that time,” Peeples said.

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/04/14 - 05:38 am
3
0
I truly feel we're

I truly feel we're technologying ourselves to death!! Just like children today; it appears (to me) they simply don't have much of an imagination!! When we were growing up, we would literally make up games or go out and imitate our favorite movie. We would play "Dukes of Hazard" even though we didn't even have a car.

Today, I hear to many parents say that if their child doesn't have a computer or video game in front of them, they're always saying "I'm bored". Well.....make them get out and use their mind and imagination a little!!

iaaffg
2992
Points
iaaffg 07/04/14 - 06:18 am
4
1
myfather: true that. our tech

myfather: true that. our tech gadgets are great at times, but i do believe we vest entirely too much time and interest in them. that old saying "stop and smell the roses" may be trite but oh-so-true.
but as for this study: i would like to know a little more: like how many participants and what were the ages? i bet 100 people over the age of 50-60 would do a lot better with this challenge than 100 under the age of 30.

deestafford
29063
Points
deestafford 07/04/14 - 07:40 am
2
1
I believe one of our problems today...

I believe one of our problems today is people don't know how to THINK and ponder. This has resulted in shallow thoughts.

Somewhere years ago, I read a book in which the author said he liked for his subordinate leaders to put their feet up on their desks and look out the window for at least ten minutes a day and just "think".

When my wife and I were raising our daughters it was sometimes difficult to come up with the proper punishment. That's not a problem with today's parents---all they need to do is to take away their cell phones and that kills them.

Not only is "thinking" a lost art, so is conversation. The next time you are in a restaurant watch people sitting at a table texting and not talking with each other.

corgimom
34664
Points
corgimom 07/04/14 - 12:57 pm
5
0
Back when parents had common

Back when parents had common sense, any child that said "I'm bored" quickly found themselves with a stinky unpleasant chore to do. Like washing the car, scrubbing the shower, cleaning out the garage, washing windows, etc.

But then parents considered themselves parents, not entertainment directors.

corgimom
34664
Points
corgimom 07/04/14 - 12:57 pm
3
0
iaaffg, I agree with you

iaaffg, I agree with you 100%.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 07/04/14 - 06:52 pm
2
0
I am amazed at the people who

I am amazed at the people who are so addicted to FB etc., that they can't even complete tasks without stopping to see what someone has posted. They do it in the restaurant, in the movies, at the ballgame. Good Gawd Almighty! Are you THAT addicted to trivialness?

What she said: "But then parents considered themselves parents, not entertainment directors."

deestafford
29063
Points
deestafford 07/04/14 - 08:02 pm
1
1
I read something not long ago that the word "teenager"...

I read something not long ago that the word "teenager" did not come into being until after WWII. Before that time you went from a child to an adult. Sort of link going from short pants to long pants.

Kids wanted to grow up and become adults and take their place in the world. Sadly, that is not true today. Too many never want to become an adult with the attendant responsibilities.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/05/14 - 08:45 am
1
0
Corgimom

You've never made a comment that I agree more with, than your 12:57!!

Tom Corwin
10157
Points
Tom Corwin 07/07/14 - 12:24 pm
0
0
iaaffg

The studies (there were six altogether) were done first with college students and then replicated in people recruited from a farmer's market and a church who ranged in age from 18 to 77, with a median age of 48. The results were the same for the older group.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Grad rates show improvement by local school systems

Graduation rates in both Richmond and Columbia counties followed the statewide trend of slow and steady increases in 2014, although progress in individual schools varied greatly.
Search Augusta jobs