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Why Some People Get Bored More Than Others

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Mar 2, 2020

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Boredom is a near-universal human experience, according to Sammy Perone, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development at the Washington State University.

Take, for instance, a 2007 study, which found two out of three students are bored in class every day, and another 2017 study, which found 91% of young Americans experience boredom.

But while nearly everyone experiences boredom, some people are more likely to experience it than others, and this is because some brains are wired to react in different ways when bored.

Perone and team found that two specific areas in the brain – the right frontal and left frontal lobes are responsible for problem-solving, spontaneity, memory, language, social and sexual behavior and more.

On studying brain scans, Perone and the team concluded that left frontal activity is more when people find ways to engage themselves by thinking about other things. Activity in the right frontal lobe is higher when people experience negative emotions or feel anxious. And those who said they were more prone to boredom had higher right frontal brain activity.

“We found that the people who are good at coping with boredom in everyday life, based on the surveys, shifted more toward the left,” Perone said in a press release. “Those that don’t cope as well in everyday life shifted more right,” he added.

Perone also added that previous research has established that people who experience boredom more often tend to have more anxiety, and are more prone to depression.


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Boredom may not always be a product of how things work internally in the brain, though. Even external stimuli can cause boredom, Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., an associate professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, writes for Psychology Today. Some individuals desire novelty and excitement. “These sensation seekers (e.g., skydivers) are likely to find that the world moves too slowly. The need for external stimulation may explain why extroverts tend to be particularly prone to boredom. Novelty seeking and risk-taking is the way that these people self-medicate to cure their boredom,” Dr. Heshmat adds.

People with chronic attention problems such as having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more prone to boredom because one of the fundamental effects of ADHD is a natural difficulty in focusing.

It is good to identify ways to get rid of boredom, Dr. Heshmat states, but the state is not all that bad. “Boredom can be a catalyst for action. It can provide an opportunity for thought and reflection. It can also be a sign that a task is a waste of time — and thus not worth continuing.”

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Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.

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