09 May 2011

Boredom is good for you!

I have always thought that boredom was a negative thing but it seems that I was wrong! According to a new study boredom is in fact good for you

"Bored people feel that their actions are meaningless and so they are motivated to engage in meaningful behaviour," said Wijnand van Tilburg, from the University of Limerick, co-author of the paper, Bored George Helps Others: A Pragmatic Meaning-Regulation Hypothesis on Boredom and Prosocial Behaviour. "If prosocial behaviour fulfills this requirement, boredom promotes prosocial behaviour.

"Investigating the link between boredom and prosocial behavior is not only highly novel but also counter-intuitive," said Van Tilburg, who will present the paper with co-author, Dr Eric Igou, on Friday at the British Psychological Society 2011 Annual Conference.

"Past research has associated boredom almost exclusively with aversive correlates, yet closer inspection suggests a much richer array of potential consequences that may well go beyond merely negative outcomes, such as prosocial behaviour."

When people feel meaningless, Van Tilburg found that they are more likely to engage in behaviour they believe will re-establish their sense of meaningfulness. They do not, he added, simply turn to distractions that are fun and interesting.

"Boredom makes people long for different and purposeful activities, and as a result they turn towards more challenging and meaningful activities, turning towards what they perceive to be really meaningful in life," said Van Tilburg.

Van Tilburg said his research proves that boredom can promote behaviour that benefits society. "Being bored may be miserable, but at the same time it provides benefits for others who are in need of support," he said. "This is important as past boredom research mainly suggested detrimental correlates such as aggression or pathological gambling.

"Of course, this does not mean that boredom is necessary for prosocial behaviour," added Van Tilburg. "It is one positive effect of an utterly negative experience, demonstrating the dynamic character of how people attempt to re-establish a sense of meaningfulness."
And so on…

Well I’ll go to the foot of my stairs! Sadly I’m not sure that boredom does that for me. Nowadays the only prosocial activity is to change the tv channel…. Hiho

14 comments:

Harry Barnes said...

So my being a bored member of the Labour Party since 1957 has all been worthwhile. I hope that this insight does not now take my boredom away from me, as my membership will then lose its benefits.

Liz said...

I have a number of 'friends' on Facebook who often say, 'I'm bored,' and I want to say, 'How can you be bored? When there's so much to do either for fun or for usefulness?'

Actually I find the statuses that people post says a lot about their personalities ...

Kay Dennison said...

I'm bored a lot but I suspect that it's my own fault!

jams o donnell said...

Haha Harry, look what boredom did for you and the good you did representing the people of Derbyshire at Westminster!

I have found boredom rather destructive myself. Still I have lots of things I should be doing Liz

Well I suppose we hold the key to escape from boredom Kay

The Plump said...

The author has never had to do exam marking. Groan ...

jams o donnell said...

I am very glad I was always a markee than a marker!

nursemyra said...

I'm really ever bored. so many books to read, so many films to see

jams o donnell said...

There are so many great books and films. Sometimes boredom kills off my desire to read books

nursemyra said...

I don't understand what you mean by that Jams.....?

jams o donnell said...

It's just that I've found that boredom can be a vicious circle for me

Pagan Sphinx said...

I guess there's a difference between boredom and apathy.

jams o donnell said...

In my case perhaps there is more than a bit of apathy Sphinx

SnoopyTheGoon said...

It explains why I like watching billiards on TV.

jams o donnell said...

God even I haven't descended that far!