Five Types of Boredom: One A Red Flag for Depression


Almost all of us have likely said "I'm bored" at one point or another.

This may mean we are doing something incredibly dull, or are at loose ends and can find nothing of interest to occupy us. We may feel relaxed, restless, uncertain, withdrawn or unmotivated, but what we tell ourselves is, "I'm bored."

However, because of the work of some scientists – curious humans who love to examine and categorize things – different types of boredom have been identified. Now, anyone so inclined can be specific about his or her boredom, calling it by its scientific name. Fortunately, the names are not in Latin.

Name That Boredom

In 2006, Dr. Thomas Goetz and Anne Frenzel determined four specific types of boredom. More recently, Goetz and others have added a fifth kind to the list.

  1. Indifferent boredom: Characterized by either a relaxed, indifferent or withdrawn emotional state. If boredom is indifferent, an individual is likely using the boredom as a hammock and is not very motivated to leave its tedious comfort.
  2. Calibrating boredom: Characterized by uncertainty or openness to distraction. It is easy to imagine such a person pacing around or randomly hopping from one distraction to another, hoping that something eventually sparks his or her interest.
  3. Searching boredom: Characterized by restlessness and active pursuit of change or distraction. These individuals are not hoping for an antidote to boredom – they are determined to find one.
  4. Reactant boredom: Characterized by being reactive and motivated to leave a dull situation for specific options. Such a person may say, "This is boring; I'm outta here," and pursue something he or she knows is more interesting.
  5. Apathetic boredom: Characterized by listlessness, apathy and an aversion to action. This is the most unpleasant kind of boredom to experience and bears a close resemblance to learned helplessness that can lead to depression. Researchers were alarmed that this type of boredom was reported by 36 percent of the high school participants sampled in their study. Apathetic boredom also sounds like a close cousin of anhedonia, or the inability to take pleasure in typically enjoyable activities. Anhedonia is a symptom of serious depression.

Other Interesting Bits About Boredom

The research on boredom – not to be confused with boring research – reveals that the five types of boredom are not just dependent on the intensity of the boredom experienced, but have much to do with the experience's real-life situation.

It was also found that individuals do not randomly experience the different boredoms over time. Instead, we each tend to experience the same kind repeatedly, suggesting that boredom type may be related to personality and temperament differences.

The researchers are also looking at how the types of boredom affect people’s capacity for learning and achievement.

Source: Medical News Today


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