Why do we get bored? Professor weighs in

bored student
It might not be your fault that you’re bored.
Credit: Colourbox

You might think it’s your fault you’re dozing off in a classroom or office, but that’s not always the case. There are clear categories of boredom triggered by environment, says pioneering researcher Dr. Thomas Goetz from the University of Konstanz in Germany.

The types:

Indifferent boredom: A relaxing, possibly positive type – “a general indifference to, and withdrawal from, the external world”

Calibrating boredom: Wandering thoughts – “general openness to behaviors aimed at changing the situation”

Searching boredom: “Actively seeking out specific ways of minimizing feelings of boredom”

Reactant boredom: Causes sufferers “to leave the boredom-inducing situation and avoid those responsible for this situation (e.g., teachers).”

Apathetic boredom: Impossible to break from this mode – “dangerous, similar to depression”

Metro World News: What is the most common misconception about boredom?

Goetz: It’s important to recognize the different types, and clearly define the differences.

You say apathetic boredom is the worst – how bad can it get?

The problem is that it makes every experience negative and the potential for arousal is low. People cannot do anything against this state and it can become a big problem related to depression.

What puts us at risk?

Some people tend to a specific state but only to a small degree, each experience is based on situations. It’s important that people recognize the forms. Often the problem is a lack of freedom, such as at school because there is no relief. Teachers should be aware and try to find individualized methods that give students choice.

Is there a risk that teaching boredom could cause more boredom?

There is an argument from anxiety research that awareness increases the problem, but in this case it is about knowing and realizing, and this goes hand in hand with resolving it.

What follow-up research is needed?

We didn’t measure the effects, which future studies should test. We need diagnostic instruments to show the experiences of boredom.



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