What happens when I’m bored?

Boredom has been associated with a wide range of psychological and social problems, including problem gambling, drug and alcohol addiction, disordered eating, anger, aggression, depression, anxiety, health problems, work place errors, and lost productivity.

Boredom has even been associated with suicide and death. But is boredom really the cause of these problems, or does it simply accompany them?

Our understanding of exactly how boredom relates to these serious issues has been limited by a lack of high quality research. However, based on the best available psychological studies, there is some evidence that being bored can lead to the following consequences:

  • Poor performance on demanding tasks. For example, people who are bored are more likely to have a hard time remaining focused on mental tasks like completing schoolwork.
  • Increased anger and aggression. For example, people who are bored are more likely to hold hostile attitudes and behave in an aggressive manner toward others.
  • Increased risk taking behavior and risky decision-making. For example, people who are bored are more likely to act recklessly and make poor decision when playing gambling like games.
  • Less definitively, there is some emerging evidence to suggest boredom may increase the risk of developing a depressed mood; that is, people who experience chronic boredom may be at greater risk for depression.

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