Types of boredom are quite riveting
LONDON: You may be bored, but do you have the healthy type of boredom? Or the type that may harm or even kill you?
Boredom is increasingly being linked to a range of health problems and psychologists have come to believe there is more than one type, some even suggest that there may be as many as five. Research shows experiencing the “wrong” sort of boredom can make us obese, self-destructive and sexually impotent. It may also lead us to earlier death.
But the right type can foster positive traits such as creativity, resilience and happiness.
Oddly, it seems that the way to get “healthily bored” is to embrace tedium. But most of us would rather electrocute ourselves than suffer boredom, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Research.
Sixty-nine volunteers were placed in a lab environment where nothing happened for 15 minutes at a stretch. But the volunteers could use lab equipment to give themselves electric shocks.
The more bored they were, the more likely they were to give themselves shocks, increasingly intense ones at that, say the Maastricht University investigators. When bored, we are prone to gorge on fattening snacks, according to a study involving the universities of Kent and Southampton.
Psychologists asked 140 people to record their food intake and moods, and do lab tests to monitor their eating. They not only ate more calories when bored, but were most likely to eat junk food.
Being prone to boredom can also make men a flop in bed, according to German sexologists. A study of more than 1 000 men in relationships found those who scored high on boredom tests were likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. The problem was not primarily physical, says the 2015 report in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The bored men showed a lack of imagination, and their erotic drives withered from tedium.
Worse still, people may find themselves truly “bored to death”, a long-running study of more than 7 500 public servants showed. In the mid-1980s, epidemiologists at University College London asked them to rate daily levels of boredom. In 1999, researchers followed up subsequent health records.
“Those who had reported a great deal of boredom were more likely to die during follow-up than those not bored at all,” says the report in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2010. The difference was largely made up of deaths from heart attacks.
It may not have been boredom itself that killed them. The researchers found the easily bored were more likely to smoke, binge-drink and take drugs.
Yet there is an upside to being bored, depending on the type of boredom.
A study led by Thomas Goetz, an educational scientist at the University of Konstanz, Germany, identified five types: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant and apathetic.
Professor Goetz claimed that while we experience all kinds of boredom, and might switch between them, we each tend to specialise in one.
Reactant boredom is most harmful: this is characterised by intense negative feelings which make people restless, angry and stressed.
Meanwhile, indifferent boredom could be beneficial. In this state, we are not doing anything particularly satisfying, but feel calm, so can start daydreaming and thinking creatively. – Daily Mail
But the right type can foster positive traits such as creativity