The 5 Different Categories Of Boredom (As Determined By Scientists)

Not many kids dream of growing up and spending their days studying the nuances of the most apathetic feeling known to the human race, yet, Thomas Goetz, a professor of empirical educational research at the University of Konstanz in Germany, found the subject of boredom at least marginally interesting enough to delve deeper into it.

“Given the high frequency of boredom in various situations encountered in daily life and the variety of detrimental experiences to which boredom is related, it is rather surprising that to date there has been little research conducted on this specific emotion,” Goetz wrote in the study published this week in the Journal Motivation and Emotion.

He makes a good point I suppose. People feel bored a lot. So, Goetz and his colleagues recruited a group of high school students (who better?) and group college students for their boredom study. The results were staggering. Well, not really, but they discovered that there are five distinct categories of boredom. Find out which one you might be experiencing right this moment.

1. Indifferent boredom. A relaxing and slightly positive type of boredom that “reflected a general indifference to, and withdrawal from, the external world.”

Example: Watching Bravo for four hours of a “Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” marathon.

2. Calibrating boredom. The slightly unpleasant state of having wandering thoughts and “a general openness to behaviors aimed at changing the situation.”

Example: Thinking about what you’re going to eat for dinner while reading a boring study about boredom. Yeah, you’re definitely craving a hamburger.

3. Searching boredom. The kind that makes you feel restless and leaves you “actively seeking out specific ways of minimizing feelings of boredom.”

Example: Watching the new Kanye West video for the 17th time when you should be returning emails. Why does Kim’s face look so dead? Was that an acting choice?

4. Reactant boredom. Which is so bad that it prompts sufferers “to leave the boredom-inducing situation and avoid those responsible for this situation.”

Example: Calling in sick to work because your job is getting on your fucking nerves and it’s almost Thanksgiving and you’re going to die if you don’t get a day off right now.

5. Apathetic boredom. Which induces even stronger feelings of aversion than with reactant boredom, but sufferers are far less likely to do anything about it. Leads to aggression, learned helplessness and depression and is considered the most dangerous kind of boredom. (Sadly, apathetic boredom accounted for 10 percent of all boredom among the college students and 36 percent of all boredom among the high-schoolers. That’s a lot of violent, clinically depressed adults in the making.)

Example: Going to work anyway and fantasizing about going postal. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.


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