Sept. 23, 2022 – The researchers contrasted people’s estimates of how much they would enjoy just sitting and thinking with their actual experiences of doing so in a series of six tests involving a total of 259 individuals. In the first experiment, participants were asked to estimate how much they would like to spend 20 minutes alone with their thoughts without being permitted to engage in any distracting activities, such as reading, moving about, or glancing at a smartphone. People indicated their enjoyment of it afterward.

The researchers discovered that respondents valued thinking time far more than they had anticipated. This held true regardless of whether participants were seated in a barren conference room or a small, dark tent area with no visual stimulation, regardless of whether the thinking period lasted three minutes or 20 minutes, and regardless of whether participants were asked to report their enjoyment in the middle of the task as opposed to at the end. In every case, participants found thinking to be more enjoyable than they had predicted.