A much cited study from researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard (actually a survey of 11 studies) has found that most people, across all age groups, would rather not sit alone in quiet with their thoughts. The majority would opt for some distraction or point of focus outside of their own mind over six to fifteen minutes of silent contemplation. In one of the studies, two-thirds of the men and one quarter of the women preferred to give themselves a mild electric shock over sitting alone in silence, even in their own homes, for a few minutes.
Another study has found that 56% of people in the United States cannot simply sit and watch TV without engaging with other digital media.
It as also been found that an ambient noise level of about 70 decibels (the hum of the neighborhood coffee shop) boosts creative thinking more than silence does.