Boredom proneness is largely about what you do

Posted on May 17, 2017

Over the last several years, a significant body of research has focused on measuring differences in susceptibility to boredom across individuals. One perspective sees boredom as resulting from settings that lack meaning, whereas other cognitive perspectives conceptualized boredom as stemming from situations perceived as monotonous or unengaging.

Boredom has been found to be generally associated with negative emotions, such as loneliness, sadness, anger, and worry. Findings from surveys have also shown that people with lower income and less education were, on average, more likely to be bored than others, whereas women and married people were less likely to be bored.

Alycia Chin, collaborating with a team from Carnegie Mellon University, found that a large chunk of the differences were explained by how different groups used their time. For instance, 30 per cent of the difference in boredom levels between men and women was accounted for by how much time they spent doing what turned out to be less boring activities – sports, exercise, personal grooming, time with friends and family – versus activities where boredom rates were higher, like study, working, and interacting with strangers. In other words, boredom may reflect what a person does with their time rather than being intrinsic to them.

Overall, findings are consistent with cognitive accounts that cast boredom as emerging from situations in which engagement is difficult, and are less consistent with accounts that exclusively associate boredom with situations lacking in meaning. Findings from this study reinforce the idea that boredom is much less about who you are than about what you do. On the whole, it looks like we can stay away from boredom when we are free to engage in activities that we desire.


Category(s):Emptiness, Life Purpose / Meaning / Inner-Guidance, Self help groups

Source material from The British Psychological Society


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