Boredom: What Is It Good For?



Boredom is an ubiquitous and consequential human emotion. This chapter argues that it functions as a self-regulatory signal indicating that our cognitive resources are not engaged. It provides a definition of state boredom before developing the broad notion that trait boredom represents a chronic disposition toward maladaptively responding to the boredom signal (i.e., state boredom). The chapter reviews the nascent research employing functional neuroimaging to understand boredom and casts it as being mired in the “here and now” with no clear avenues for escape. Next, it outlines a specific hypothesis that trait boredom arises in circumstances of regulatory non-fit – when our preferred mode of goal pursuit does not match our current behavior. Finally, the chapter explores the notion that state boredom is not intrinsically good or bad. The signal itself does not evaluate what we are doing in any obvious way but merely indicates that change is needed.


Boredom Self-regulation Self-control Attention Motivation 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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