Research into the causes of boredom is still in its infancy. At present, we know that certain personality characteristics—involving cognitive, emotional, and motivational factors—are associated with the tendency to experience boredom.

In terms of cognitive factors, we know that individuals with chronic problems regulating and controlling attention—–the kind of problems seen in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—are more likely to experience boredom.

In terms of emotional factors, we know that individuals who have an impoverished imagination, a lack of life meaning or purpose, and problems understanding their emotions, are more prone to experience boredom, likely because they are not able to identify what activities they would find fulfilling.

In terms of motivational factors, we know that individuals who are very sensitive to reward or punishment are more likely to experience boredom. High punishment sensitivity people often withdraw from activities because they find the environment threatening. In contrast, high reward sensitivity people need more and more exciting activities to fulfill their need for pleasure, and thus find many environments under-stimulating.