IS BOREDOM BAD FOR MENTAL HEALTH ?

SPOILER ALERT!
~ A person who is prone to boredom is typically someone who is depressed, hopeless, distractible, and lonely.

~ They seek sensations

~ They tend to focus too much on themselves, having narcissistic tendencies, which triggers more negative emotions

Boredom is associated with physical health problems, emotional-health complaints, and other psychopathologies such as anxiety, anger, aggression, eating disorders, substance abuse and depression.  In addition, findings indicate a strong relationship between boredom and negative social orientation, involving feelings of social rejection, alienation and shyness.

Boredom Proneness

Identifying and measuring the tendency toward experiencing boredom (i.e., boredom proneness) is fundamental to the recognition of a type of person predisposed to those negative consequences. For example, based on the boredom proneness scale, the boredom prone person is one who likely suffers from depression, hopelessness, loneliness and distractibility.

They tend to be unmotivated, perceiving common tasks as monotonous, and lacking some autonomy. Research implicates sensation seeking as one of the character traits of individuals prone to boredom.

Interestingly, previous research has suggested that boredom is problematic during the two major life transitions, adolescence and old age. Adolescents have yet to assimilate into mainstream society, while the older adults tend to struggle with finding meaningful ways to occupy their time.

Boredom proneness & Psychopathologies

It has been proposed that the negative consequences of boredom on mental and physical health could be attributed to an exaggerated focus on the self. For example, a previous study reported that scoring high on the boredom proneness scale was related to high narcissism scores.

Indeed, individuals with high boredom proneness have the tendency to dwell on themselves, which increases the likelihood of perceiving problems and stirring up negative emotions. This type of self-focus has been termed “maladaptive” self-awareness.

Reference:

Farmer R, Sundberg ND. Boredom proneness–the development and correlates of a new scale. J Pers Assess. 1986 Spring;50(1):4-17. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa5001_2. PMID: 3723312.

Sommers J, Vodanovich SJ. Boredom proneness: its relationship to psychological- and physical-health symptoms. J Clin Psychol. 2000 Jan;56(1):149-55. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4679(200001)56:1<149::aid-jclp14>3.0.co;2-y. PMID: 10661377.

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