People feel less boredom as pandemic continues, study finds

More tweets mentioned boredom in March than they do now



If someone cannot engage with their environment in a way that satisfies them, they are more likely to experience a sense of boredom.


Researchers found that people experienced more boredom at the beginning of the pandemic, but as restrictions continue, people have become adept at finding something to occupy their time.

After states started shutting down, people needed to make the difficult transition from going out to going out with restrictions and staying home the majority of the time. With greater restrictions on activities, people were more likely to experience boredom, said WSU assistant professor Elizabeth Weybright.

“I think that one of the things that we would expect to see is that there’s a lot of people who, whether you’ve actually experienced boredom or not, we’re expecting to be bored because of all the restrictions that they were experiencing,” she said.

Weybright said she and graduate student Erica Doering collected information about boredom from Twitter using software called Tweet Archivist.

The software showed tweets that mentioned the words “bored” or “boredom,” Doering said.

“Part of that was just to see the prevalence of how frequently that was mentioned,” Weybright said.

The data from the tweets showed that people felt a sense of boredom in March during the lockdowns, Doering said, but as the pandemic continued, there were fewer occurrences of boredom.

People anticipated that they would be bored because they were staying home, Doering said.

If someone cannot engage with their environment in a way that satisfies them, they are more likely to experience a sense of boredom, Weybright said.

It was difficult for people to adapt to staying home more often, but people are now used to that, she said.

Weybright said she did studies before the pandemic, in which she placed people in a situation where they would feel bored and saw how they reacted.

“Then we ask them how bored they are at the end of that task to make sure that they’re actually as bored as we think they should be,” she said.

Boredom is not necessarily a good or bad emotion. It is a signal of what is or is not going on in a person’s environment, she said. 

Someone can easily stop being bored once they figure out the cause of their boredom, Weybright said. They might be bored because they are stuck at home or the weather is bad.

“If you can understand how you arrived at a feeling of boredom, that is going to help you exit or find something that’s more satisfying to do,” she said.