Being Bored is Interesting, Apparently
November 22, 2013

Being Bored Is Interesting, Apparently

I am many things, but rarely am I ever bored. I cannot stand being bored, which is in part why I give myself so many different things to do. Reading, tabletop games, video games, chatting with friends online, movies, stupid YouTube videos, story writing, all of these things serve to prevent that most dreadful of feelings. Boredom. Boredom is the bane of my existence. I recall being bored quite often when I was younger, namely when I was staying out at my grandparents’ farmhouse on the weekends. Sure, there were things to do, but few of them really had any interest for me. This was why I used every opportunity to have friends over or to go over to their place to hang out/play. Now that I am older and have more freedoms allowed to me, I take every measure possible to escape that dreadful feeling at every opportunity.

Something I never knew before was that there are actual studies into boredom. Sure, I supposed this does not come as a surprise as there seem to be studies into almost everything imaginable, but even so this still comes off as sounding redundant. The study of people with nothing to do does not sound like an overly exciting career option. There was a buzz generated by this study earlier this week when it was announced that there was, in fact, a fifth form of boredom that had never before been classified.

Up until now, the four types of boredom were calibrating boredom, when someone is uncertain, but receptive to change and/or distraction, indifferent boredom, which is when someone is indifferent, relaxed, and withdrawn, reactant boredom, when someone is still motivated enough to leave their present situation for a specific alternative, and searching boredom, when someone is restless, actively in pursuit of distraction or change. So then what is the fifth? The new boredom? According to Dr. Thomas Goetz of the University of Konstanz and the Thurgau University of Teacher Education who, along with colleague Anne Frenzel who first categorized these original four types of boredom back in 2006, the fifth type of boredom is apathetic boredom. Apathetic boredom is an incredibly unpleasant form of boredom that closely resembles helplessness or depression. It is associated with low levels of arousal and high levels of aversion. In addition, it was found that apathetic boredom was seen relatively frequently, 36%, in the test groups they used to classify this fifth type of boredom, in which they focused their study on high school students; an alarming find, considering apathetic boredom’s connection to depression. Conclusions to this study were that the type of boredom a person experiences is not based solely on the intensity of someone’s boredom, but also on the real-life situations being dealt with by the subject in general. They may even be linked to personality-specific dispositions.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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