Waiting is Worse Than Pain

Hate waiting for something painful so much that you’d take more pain if it meant you didn’t have to wait? Turns out, you’re not alone.

A study published in PLOS Computational Biology found that most people will choose more intense pain over less intense pain, if it means that they won’t have to wait for it—that waiting time being dubbed by researchers, appropriately enough, as dread. Researchers measured dread the old-fashioned way: with a whole bunch of electrical shocks.

Thirty-three volunteers were hooked up to a device that dispensed electrical shocks and given a simple choice: more painful shock now, less painful one later? Very few people chose the minimum; in fact, over seventy per cent of people went with more pain sooner.

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Photo courtesy of F. Delventhal

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