Researchers identify fifth — yes, fifth — type of boredom


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It turns out "bored" is just an umbrella term for five specific types of the emotion. In a new study published in Motivation and Emotion, researchers built on previous research — which labeled four types of boredom — with a fifth type: apathetic boredom.

The five types differ in their level of arousal (ranging from calm to fidgety) and how positive or negative the bored feeling is. 

The previous four types are as follows, according to ScienceDaily

  1. Indifferent boredom (relaxed, withdrawn, indifferent);
  2. Calibrating boredom (uncertain, receptive to change/distraction);
  3. Searching boredom (restless, active pursuit of change/distraction); and
  4. Reactant boredom (high reactant, motivated to leave a situation for specific alternatives).


The fifth, apathetic boredom, is characterized by low levels of arousal and high levels of aversion, and is a particularly unpleasant feeling similar to learned helplessness and depression. This similarity is why researchers were shocked to find that 36% of the high school students sampled in the study reported apathetic boredom frequently.

To complete the study, researchers had 63 German university students and 80 German high school learners complete daily digital questionnaires about their activities and experiences over the course of two weeks. 

In addition to the surprising amount of students who experienced apathetic boredom, the research produced some other interesting findings. For example, people don't usually experience multiple types of boredom. Instead, each person's feeling of boredom tends to present itself as just one particular type every time. 

"We therefore speculate that experiencing specific boredom types might, to some degree, be due to personality-specific dispositions," reported lead researcher Thomas Goetz of the University of Konstanz and the Thurgau University of Teacher Education.