Never a dull moment
Things get interesting when psychologists
take a closer look at boredom.
BY KIRSTEN WEIR
Videos of fish-farm management techniques or men silently hanging laundry probably don’t top your Netflix queue. And that’s the point. These are some of
the tedium-inducing tools that psychologists are using to study
boredom in the lab.
they interviewed hundreds of people about what it feels like to
experience that tedious state.
They concluded that boredom is best described in terms of
attention. A bored person doesn’t just have nothing to do. He or
she wants to be stimulated, but is unable, for whatever reason,
to connect with his or her environment — a state Eastwood
describes as an “unengaged mind” (Perspectives on Psychological
“In a nutshell, it boiled down to boredom being the
unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity,” he says.
From listless to focused
One of the more surprising aspects of Eastwood’s definition
is that boredom can be associated with both low-arousal and
high-arousal states. At times, boredom breeds lethargy — you
might even have trouble keeping your eyes open. In other
situations, being bored can lead to an agitated restlessness: think
pacing, or constantly tapping your feet. Often, he says, boredom