Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 221, Issue 1, pp 59–67 | Cite as

Exploring the relationship between boredom and sustained attention

  • Ela Malkovsky
  • Colleen Merrifield
  • Yael Goldberg
  • James DanckertEmail author
Research Article


Boredom is a common experience, prevalent in neurological and psychiatric populations, yet its cognitive characteristics remain poorly understood. We explored the relationship between boredom proneness, sustained attention and adult symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The results showed that high boredom-prone individuals (HBP) performed poorly on measures of sustained attention and showed increased symptoms of ADHD and depression. The results also showed that HBP individuals can be characterised as either apathetic—in which the individual is unconcerned with his/her environment, or as agitated—in which the individual is motivated to engage in meaningful activities, although attempts to do so fail to satisfy. Apathetic boredom proneness was associated with attention lapses, whereas agitated boredom proneness was associated with decreased sensitivity to errors of sustained attention, and increased symptoms of adult ADHD. Our results suggest there is a complex relationship between attention and boredom proneness.


Boredom Sustained attention ADHD TBI 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ela Malkovsky
    • 1
  • Colleen Merrifield
    • 1
  • Yael Goldberg
    • 1
  • James Danckert
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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