The Psychology of Boredom

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Duration 00:01:32

University of Waterloo

Clinical Neuropsychologist, James Danckert, is a professor in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo where he maintains a research program exploring the neural and cognitive bases of boredom and boredom proneness. He has written over 100 journal articles and book chapters and is co-author of the book Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom. 



Boredom is one of those things we all think we understand… until we try to define it. Is it laziness? Is it apathy? Neither is true. Boredom is perhaps best captured in a quote from Leo Tolstoy, who describes it as “a desire for desires.” When we’re bored, we are disengaged from the world around us–a state that feels deeply uncomfortable. In a sense, boredom’s goal is to eliminate itself and as such it plays a vital role in our lives.

Understanding the Psychology of Boredom

Boredom works to regulate our pursuit of goals–to explore the world for new opportunities to deploy our skills and talents.  But for the so-called “boredom prone,” higher rates of depression and anxiety are common. In this class, Professor Danckert will explore this interplay between the functional role of boredom in our lives and the failure for some to heed the signal in adaptive ways, touching on findings from surveys, behavior, and brain imaging.


Discussion Questions About the Psychology of Boredom:

1.      Is boredom a problem only of the affluent?

2.      Have smartphones effectively eliminated boredom?

3.      Are there any good reasons to cultivate boredom?


Professor Danckert’s Recommended Reading:

 Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom, by James Danckert and John Eastwood

Propelled: How Boredom, Frustration, and Anticipation Lead to the Good Life, by Andreas Elpidorou


Learn More About the Psychology of Boredom

Learn more about the psychology of boredom by checking out our latest psychology lectures in our online video lectures library. Below are some recent additions as well as some student favorites, including 8 Books That Changed The World, Managing Stress: The Power Of Mindset, Reduce Stress At Home & Work. Access to all recorded psychology lectures comes standard with our membership, click here to learn more.




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Susan Pace

I wasn't bored

I wasn’t bored watching your presentation and I ordered your book “Out Of My Skull” and enjoyed it immensely. I do have a question: is impatience a bart of boredom? I am seldom bored but can be quite impatient waiting for time to pass (usually ten minutes to half an hour) so I can get on with what I’ve planned. Thank you so much!

2 years ago
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