Boredom in the COVID-19 pandemic: Trait boredom proneness, the desire to act, and rule-breaking.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The state of boredom presents a conundrum: When bored, we want to engage with an activity, but we don't want to engage with whatever is currently available. This conflict is exacerbated when external factors impose restrictions on the range of behaviors we can engage in, which is precisely the scenario we are currently facing, at a global level, during this period of social isolation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We collected data from 924 North American participants (530 Male, Mean age = 37.7 years) using the internet-based Mturk platform to examine the relation between self-reports of boredom proneness (using the Short Boredom-Proneness Scale) and individual responses to questions about compliance with social-distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our sample replicated recent findings in boredom research, including a negative correlation between boredom proneness and self-control. We also provide novel evidence that highly boredom prone people have been more likely to break the rules of social isolation in a variety of ways (e.g., fewer hours spent in social isolation, poor adherence to social distancing as evidenced by increased likelihood of holding a social gathering and coming into proximity with more people than recommended). We further demonstrated that boredom proneness substantially mediates the association between self-control and rule-breaking. These results indicate that boredom proneness is a critical factor to consider when encouraging adherence to social isolation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Boylan, J; Seli, P; Scholer, AA; Danckert, J

Published Date

  • March 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 171 /

Start / End Page

  • 110387 -

PubMed ID

  • 35502306

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9045809

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0191-8869

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.paid.2020.110387


  • eng