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Hum Factors. 2016 Mar;58(2):279-300. doi: 10.1177/0018720815609503. Epub 2015 Oct 21.

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

Author information

1
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina m.cummings@duke.edu.
2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
3
United States Coast Guard, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

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.

BACKGROUND:

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.

METHOD:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSION:

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.

APPLICATION:

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.

KEYWORDS:

automation; boredom; distraction; fatigue; monitoring; monotony; workload

PMID:
26490443
DOI:
10.1177/0018720815609503
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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