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Tell Your Students…Boredom is Hot, Hot, Hot

by Rachel Silverman

In John Eastwood’s subterranean lab at York University in Ontario, Canada, young adults sit watching video clips: They are part of a test to see just how deeply bored they can get.

Dr. Eastwood, a Canadian psychology professor, is one of a growing number of researchers in what is becoming an exciting field of inquiry: boredom studies. The young adults in his lab watch dry instructional videos all in an effort to help researchers understand how we experience boredom, what causes it, and eventually, how to relieve it.

Boredom researchers are used to the jokes, but they contend that theirs is a fascinating field. For one thing, boredom has serious consequences for health and productivity, they say, linked to depression, overeating, substance abuse, gambling and even mortality—people may, indirectly, be “bored to death.” One 2010 study found that the boredom-prone are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease than their more-engaged brethren.

With the debut of new academic papers and symposia on boredom in the workplace and cross-cultural experiences of inactivity and boredom, there is a boomlet in boredom studies. November marked the third annual Boring Conference in East London, where speakers delivered PowerPoint

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