Researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard asked people to simply sit still and think. For many, the experience was less pleasant than it sounded.
It would be tough to think up a more plum assignment for a test subject: Simply step into an empty room, sit down, and think.
But to appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Science, participants found the experience within their own heads surprisingly difficult to manage — if not downright unpleasant.
Stripped of their books, cellphones and other distractions, many, including a majority of men, preferred to instead pass the time by reaching for the sole form of electronic entertainment in the room: a 9-volt battery administering a "severe static shock" when touched.
"It's probably an issue of how we can control our minds and thoughts," says , professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and a co-author of the study, which attempts to measure the enjoyment found in allowing our minds to simply wander.
That represents a novel approach to the study of human distractibility, in which the "wandering mind" is often itself : a symptom of our multitasking, digitized culture that interrupts our pleasure reading, test-taking and work lives.
For the rest of the story: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/07/03/328137640/surrounded-by-digital-distractions-we-cant-even-stop-to-think?ft=1&f=1007