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