General Question

girlofscience's avatar

How much would you need to be paid to participate in a research study in which all of your thoughts for one week would be recorded and subsequently analyzed for research purposes?

Asked by girlofscience (7567points) October 2nd, 2008

Imagine a device was invented that was able to record every thought you had, exactly, as text. Researchers were interested in studying the thought processes of individuals at various points in their days. Results would be kept confidential. This would not be “inconvenient” for you; you would simply wear a small sticker on the back of your neck.

Indicate the amounts you would need to participate in this study for one week under each of the following conditions:
1) The researchers were complete strangers to you
2) The researchers were loose acquaintances or coworkers
3) The researchers were friends
4) The researchers were family
5) The researcher was your significant other

Which would you need to be paid the most to reveal your thoughts to, and why? If you were wearing the sticker, would you attempt to modify your thoughts at all during the week? If you would require a very high compensation for participation in this experiment, why? What is so private about your thoughts that makes you so reluctant to allow someone to read them?

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21 Answers

Fallenangel's avatar

I get paid 1000 every months to test drugs.

So, anywhere around that for strangers would be fine with me. Its not like I know them so I don’t care what they think of me.

MrItty's avatar


JackAdams's avatar


tinyfaery's avatar

No way. I have crazy thoughts all the time, but what I do or say is really me. My thoughts are fleeting, it’s what I do that really matters.

jca's avatar

i would be happy with my regular pay for the first question (total strangers): about $1500/week.

the next four: i’d say to be comfortable i can’t really put a price on my true thoughts, because a lot of my true thoughts are about my coworkers (some are crazy, or should be avoided, or boss is an ass kisser who only cares about himself looking good), my family (my sometimes negative attitude toward my mother), and my friends (my feelings about their appearance, their husbands/wives, etc).

deaddolly's avatar

1. $1000
2. $1 million
3. $1000
4. $1000
5. $1000

I normally speak my mind,but i don’t come cheap. As a manager with a lot of mimnimally educated people under me; it would not make for a good business relationship if they knew what I thought of their lifestyles. As long as they do the job, I don’t care, but I do have my personal opinions.

jca's avatar

dolly: i like that 1 million number. i think that’s about right for the bottom 4 for me.

arnbev959's avatar

1) $15,000,000
2) $35,000,000
3) No
4) Hell No
5) N/A

I would try to modify my thoughts. I do try to modify my thoughts sometimes as though there is someone listening (I’m afraid I won’t approve of my own thoughts?)

I would be very uncomfortable knowing that someone else would be able to read my thoughts. I don’t think I have any inherently “bad” thoughts, or at least not any “abnormal” thoughts. It’s a simple matter of liking my privacy. And the most private place in the whole world is my mind.

Now how much would I pay for a machine that could record my thoughts for my own personal use? A lot. It would be so cool to be able to keep the ultimate journal, or have a record of all those things that you think of during the day that you mean to look up later but that you forget about before you get the chance to.

deaddolly's avatar

@jca if some ppl knew what I thought of them, I’ be the victim of a drive by!!!

marinelife's avatar

My thoughts=Priceless.

Nimis's avatar

Mari: I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, but that sounds really funny!

Allie's avatar

I don’t know where I would place the monetary values, but as I go down the list I would be less and less likely to participate. I’d be comfortable with strangers knowing every thought and if it was kept confidential and my name wasn’t published with the results I would be 100% fine with it. Less so as I continue down the list until I reached significant other (oddly). I wouldn’t have a problem with my boyfriend/husband knowing my thoughts. In general, I tend to speak my mind and people who know me well enough (as my boyfriend/husband should) can usually read my emotions anyway. If I saw a good looking guy and though “Shit, he’s handsome,” well so what, he probably has similar thoughts. What’s important is that I (and he) wouldn’t turn the thought into and action. If I thought about how much of a jerk he was being at a moment when I was angry at him, oh well, I was angry so yeah I thought he was a jerk.. sorry. The good thing is he’d also get to see the nice things I thought. How much I love him, how wonderful he is, when and why I appreciate him. I’d hope I would be able to vocalize these kinds of thoughts, but if I don’t I’d be happy that he got to read them. I feel like I’m babbling now.. I’ll stop.

MacBean's avatar

I’m with tinyfaery 100%. I’d never do this, under any circumstances. I think some crazy shit sometimes. Things I don’t want anybody to know that I think. Because just because a thought floats across my mind doesn’t mean that I really believe it, and I don’t want other people seeing and judging.

sccrowell's avatar

@Marina, I love your answer, it was great. It made laugh.
@Nimis. I have to agree with you.!

SuperMouse's avatar

There is not enough money in the world to get me to let anyone read my thoughts. At the end of the time I would probably be institutionalized.

deaddolly's avatar

@supermouse me too! I’m not a violent person at all, but I have really violent thoughts about stupid ppl.

girlofscience's avatar

Interesting answers… To everyone who answered, what about these questions:

If you were wearing the sticker, would you attempt to modify your thoughts at all during the week? If you would require a very high compensation for participation in this experiment, why? What is so private about your thoughts that makes you so reluctant to allow someone to read them?

Allie's avatar

I think everyone would censor their thoughts a bit, either consciously or subconsciously (and probably to different degrees). The scientists would know what you’re thinking so they would see the censored thought anyway, and then they’d see that you tried to censor it. Interesting.. why were you so ashamed to be thinking of whatever it was you were thinking of? It’s the same effect as telling someone you are watching them and taking notes. Once they know they’re being watched, they change their behavior. Another example: Studying animals in their natural, wild environments versus in cages. If you hide somewhere in their natural habitat and watch them from a distance you get different results than when you watch them from the other side of a cage and they know you are there.
I’m also pretty sure there would be a lot of thoughts centered on the subject of the test itself. Stuff like “Why do we need to do this? What are they going to do with my thoughts? Who else is participating?” etc.

SuperMouse's avatar

@girl, one of the reasons I would not wear the sticker is that I would probably want to try to alter my thoughts, and that would be entirely too much work.

Skyrail's avatar

I wouldn’t participate, as to why I wouldn’t participate, well, if I told you I might as well participate right?

jca's avatar

the part about having your thoughts analyzed is intriguing. if the analysis were totally accurate, like if there was some 100% accurate machine that did it, it would be interesting to find out exactly what’s going on in my noggin!

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