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The science of boredom
Posted 9/21/08
From:Scientific American.com


Most people blame boredom on the circumstances, but psychologists say this emotion is highly subjective and rooted in aspects of consciousness—and that levels of boredom vary among people. Some individuals are less—and others considerably more—likely to be bored than others.
Boredom is not a unified concept but may comprise several varieties, including the transient type that occurs while waiting in line and so-called existential boredom that accompanies a profound dissatisfaction with life.
Boredom is linked to both emotional factors and personality traits. Problems with attention also play a role, and thus techniques that improve a person’s ability to focus may diminish boredom.
.In a quiet, darkened lecture room, you begin a frustrating fight against fatigue. The overhead projector hums, and you cannot concentrate on the slides. You stop absorbing information and doodle mindlessly. The professor lost you eons ago. You are bored.

Virtually everyone gets bored once in a while. Most of us chalk it up to a dull environment. “The most common way to define boredom in Western culture is ‘having nothing to do,’ ” says psychologist Stephen Vodanovich of the University of West Florida. And indeed, early research into the effects of boredom focused on people forced to perform monotonous tasks, such as working a factory assembly line.

But boredom is not merely an inherent property of the circumstances, researchers say. Rather this perception is subjective and rooted in aspects of consciousness. Levels of boredom vary among people: some individuals are far less prone to ennui than others—and some, such as extroverts, are more susceptible to this feeling.

Thus, a new generation of scientists is grappling with the psychological underpinnings of this most tedious of human emotions—and they have found that it is more complicated than is commonly known. Researchers say that boredom is not a unified concept but rather comes in several flavors. Level of attention, an aspect of conscious awareness, plays an important role in boredom, such that improving a person’s ability to focus may therefore decrease ennui. Emotional factors can also contribute to boredom. People who are inept at understanding their feelings and those who become sucked in and distracted by their moods are more easily bored, for example.

Staving off tedium is no mundane matter. People who are predisposed to boredom are more likely to suffer from ills such as depression and drug addiction; they also tend to be socially awkward and poor performers at school or work. Getting at the origins of boredom may lead to ways to prevent and treat such pathologies and detrimental behaviors.



.Monotony in the Mind
Researchers have tackled the topic of boredom for nearly a century. In the early days they deliberated on the effects of inherently tedious tasks, inspired by the hoards of bored and badly performing workers in factories. For instance, in a 1926 paper published in the British Medical Journal, psychologist A. Hudson Davies of the National Institute of Industrial Psychology in the U.K. reported that boredom is akin to mental fatigue and is caused by repetition and lack of interest in the minute and fragmented tasks of the production assembly line. Davies also noted individual differences in boredom susceptibility among factory workers: “There are still people who are not bored by work of this kind and people who, even on the most varied work, maintain a steadily depressed attitude to life and complain bitterly of monotony.”

In the late 1930s psychologist Joseph Barmack of the City College of New York was among the first to study boredom’s basis in a laboratory setting. He proposed that boredom is a sleeplike feeling, and he found that stimulants—a trio of amphetamines, ephedrine and caffeine—reduced reports of fatigue, sleepiness, inattention and boredom during repetitive tasks, such as adding up a series of large numbers. Giving money to his student subjects also seemed to pique their interest, suggesting the tiresome feelings were a combination of low arousal and insufficient motivation.

More than a decade later, in a 1951 book entitled Organization and Pathology of Thought, Austrian-born psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel identified a type of boredom that results from the repression of a person’s drives and desires and leads to apparent aimlessness. Fenichel contrasted such “pathological” boredom with normal boredom, which, he wrote, arises simply “when we must not do what we want to do, or must do what we do not want to do.”





Posted 9/22/08
~moved to General section
Posted 9/22/08
That was just an explanation of boredom. And it was really boring reading that.
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27 / M / In your room stea...
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Posted 9/22/08
Yea, so this means nothing, people will continue to get bored. It's not gonna go away.
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27 / M / Bangalore,India
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Posted 9/22/08
If there's a science of boredom, I'm doing my PhD right now.
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21 / M / UK
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Posted 9/22/08
Boooooooored...
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Posted 9/22/08
This is such a boring thread.. -__-;
I stopped reading after "thus"
Posted 9/22/08
Well, that explains it, no wonder I'm bored 75% of the time....
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Posted 9/22/08
Fascinating stuff!! Really I mean it.
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28 / M / California
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Posted 9/22/08
Reading this killed my boredom for a minute or two.

Understanding something is the first step to effectively dealing with it. This sort of stuff could very well be positively applied to the classrooms, factory lines, etc, and other similar situations.
Posted 9/22/08
That was soooo booooooooooooring!!!!!!!!!!
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24 / F / Greatest Place on...
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Posted 9/22/08
HAHAHAAAA You get bored reading it but I just have a short attention span~
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116 / M / Earth
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Posted 9/22/08
like hell im gonna read that lol
Posted 9/22/08
srsly give me one good reason to read it after seeing all these "boring" responses
Posted 9/22/08
Lol I get Scientific American magazines every month... Already seen this and learned bout this in psychology
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