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Culture & Religion

Why Boredom is More About You Than Your Surroundings

A pair of Canadian researchers have arrived at a new understanding of boredom by examining what the word means to different disciplines. Our age may be the most bored yet.

What’s the Latest Development?

A pair of Canadian researchers have arrived at a new understanding of what it means to be bored by studying different definitions of the sensation. By looking at psychology, literature and existential philosophy (where ennui is a given psychological disposition), the team found that we tend to blame our surroundings for boring us. “We attribute [boredom] with problems in the environment rather than the problems with ourselves,” explains co-researcher Mark Fenske, associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph and co-author of the book, “The Winner’s Brain.”

What’s the Big Idea?

While most people think of boredom as a temporary and ultimately insignificant nuisance, it can play a dangerous role in the lives of those with addictive personalities, who are more likely to relapse into bad habits when they are feeling bored. Ironically, boredom may be a condition more prevalent in our time of ubiquitous entertainment: “I speculate that people might experience a lot of boredom in modern times because we are experiencing intense entertainment,” said one of the researchers. “We’re used to being passively entertained and that constant stimulation puts us at risk for [more] boredom in the future.”

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