Boredom in the Workplace: A New Look at an Old Problem.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)


We review historical and more recent efforts in boredom research and related fields. A framework is presented that organizes the various facets of boredom, particularly in supervisory control settings, and research gaps and future potential areas for study are highlighted.


Given the ubiquity of boredom across a wide spectrum of work environments--exacerbated by increasingly automated systems that remove humans from direct, physical system interaction and possibly increasing tedium in the workplace--there is a need not only to better understand the multiple facets of boredom in work environments but to develop targeted mitigation strategies.


To better understand the relationships between the various influences and outcomes of boredom, a systems-based framework, called the Boredom Influence Diagram, is proposed that describes various elements of boredom and their interrelationships.


Boredom is closely related to vigilance, attention management, and task performance. This review highlights the need to develop more naturalistic experiments that reflect the characteristics of a boring work environment.


With the increase in automation, boredom in the workplace will likely become a more prevalent issue for motivation and retention. In addition, developing continuous measures of boredom based on physiological signals is critical.


Personnel selection and improvements in system and task design can potentially mitigate boredom. However, more work is needed to develop and evaluate other potential interventions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cummings, ML; Gao, F; Thornburg, KM

Published Date

  • March 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 279 - 300

PubMed ID

  • 26490443

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1547-8181

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0018-7208

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0018720815609503


  • eng