Rich environments, dull experiences: how environment can exacerbate the effect of constraint on the experience of boredom.
We examined the hypothesis that boredom is likely to occur when opportunity costs are high; that is, when there is a high potential value of engaging in activities other than the researcher-assigned activity. To this end, participants were either placed in a room with many possible affordances (e.g. a laptop, puzzle, etc.; affordances condition; n = 121
), or they were ushered into an empty room (control condition; n = 107
). In both conditions participants were instructed to entertain themselves with only their thoughts (hence, participants in the affordances condition were to refrain from engaging with the available options). As predicted, participants in the affordances condition reported higher levels of boredom compared with those in the control condition. Results suggest that under some conditions, environments that afford alternative activities may be more
boring than those that are void of such activities.
Struk, AA; Scholer, AA; Danckert, J; Seli, P
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