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Emotion. 2019 Mar;19(2):242-254. doi: 10.1037/emo0000433. Epub 2018 Mar 26.

Boredom as a seeking state: Boredom prompts the pursuit of novel (even negative) experiences.

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Department of Psychology, Utah State University Eastern.
Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University.


Building on functional models of emotion, we propose that boredom creates a seeking state that prompts people to explore new experiences, even if those experiences are hedonically negative. Specifically, as emotional responses fade, boredom motivates the pursuit of alternative experiences that differ from the experience that resulted in boredom. Participants who reported a higher degree of boredom after a neutral task were more likely to choose negative experiences (Study 1). Compared with a low-boredom condition, participants in a high-boredom condition desired novel experiences and, as a result of this desire, were more likely to choose novel negative experiences (Study 2). In Study 3, participants were made bored by positive or negative stimuli. Participants in the positive-boredom conditions were more likely to choose a novel experience that was more negative; participants in the negative-boredom conditions were more likely to choose a novel experience that was more positive. These findings reveal that boredom motivates people to seek out novel experiences that elicit different (even more negative) feelings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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