The Science Behind Boredom

What Really is Boredom?


Maya Moses, Journalist

Boredom is a topic that has been understudied until 2016. It is a common feeling for most Americans and people around the world. In fact, studies show that people in young adulthood (around twenty-two), are less likely to be bored than teens. I know that, as a teen myself, being bored is just a part of how you live. But what really IS boredom? Boredom has been defined as a lack of excitement, a state of dissatisfaction, and a lack of stimulation.

Boredom is not the same as apathy (a suppression of feelings) but has in fact been compared to depression. While depression involves negative feelings that are focused inward at yourself, boredom relates more to negative feelings from a lack of stimulation to the outside world, not to yourself.

“I describe it as an aggressively dissatisfying state.” Says James Danckert, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. Boredom may also make you feel stuck in a state of dissatisfaction.

Boredom is quite common for people who have ADHD; they get bored a lot faster than other people. It is also common for people with traumatic brain injury, and it may even affect their recovery.

How To Avoid Boredom

The key to avoiding boredom is self-control. “Those with a higher capacity for self-control are less likely to experience boredom.” Says Danckert. Those with low self-control are more likely to have some struggles with boredom.

The Benefits

Boredom isn’t just a pain that everyone has to feel at least once in their lives, but instead, it motivates us to try new things and explore. It has been referred to as a signal you receive that tells you to do something different and switch things up. Even though we feel boredom at least once per day, we still have much to discover about it. If we don’t there could be many negative outcomes.

Next time you feel bored, try something new and explore.