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Can boredom help? Increased prosocial intentions in response to boredom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalSelf and Identity
Early online date23 Aug 2016
Accepted/In press26 Jul 2016
E-pub ahead of print23 Aug 2016


King's Authors


Boredom is typically regarded a nuisance. Past research on boredom depicts this common emotion as a correlate of many detrimental psychological and social factors, including addiction, depression, discrimination, and aggression. We present a more nuanced perspective on boredom. Specifically, we propose and test that state boredom serves an important self-regulatory function with the potential to foster positive interpersonal consequences: It signals a lack of purpose in activity and fosters a search for meaningful engagement. We examined whether boredom can subsequently cause prosocial intentions if the corresponding prosocial behavior is seen as purposeful. As predicted, boredom, which is characterized by a search for meaning (pilot study), promoted prosocial intentions (Experiment 1), in particular when the corresponding behavior was seen as highly meaningful (Experiment 2). Our novel findings suggest that boredom can have desirable consequences and recasts this emotion as not merely good or bad but rather as personally and socially functional.

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