Definition of Boredom

 There is no consensus on the definition of boredom, although some common themes exist in the

 various attempts at defining the construct.  These include the following features:


    The Environment: A monotonous, repetitive, low stimulation environment (perceived or real)

    Arousal: Less than optimal (low) levels of physiological arousal

    Affect: A dissatisfying emotional state

    Cognition: Concentration, attention deficits

    Perception: Unidimensional perceptual tendencies

    Time: Inefficient use of time and perception of time as passing slowly

Author(s) Definition

O'Hanlon (1981)

a "... unique psychophysical state that is somehow produced by prolonged exposure to monotonous stimulation" (p. 54).
Hill and Perkins (1985) "... boredom occurs when stimuli is construed as subjectively monotonous" (p. 237) 
DeCheene and Moody (1988) a "...sense of inadequate stimulation from the environment (p. 20)
Geiwitz (1966) "... that monotony objectively defined as an attribute of the situation is less important than the subjective feeling of repetitiveness" (p. 593)
Csikszentmihalyi (1975, 1990) Boredom occurs when an individual's ability exceeds environmental demands
Barmack (1937) Boredom is due to an individual having to work on a task that is no longer gratifying
Fenichel (1951) Boredom "... arises when we must not do what we want to do, or must do what we do not want to do (p. 359)
Mikulas and Vodanovich (1993)  "A state of relatively low arousal and dissatisfaction which is attributed to an inadequately stimulating environment" (p. 1)
Leary, Rogers, Canfield, & Coe (1986) "... an affective experience associated with cognitive attentional processes" (p. 968)
Damrad-Frye & Laird (1989) the product of a "...metacognitive judgement about one's attentional capacity" (p. 320)
Fisher (1987) " unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity" (p. 396)
Perkins and Hill (1985) the onset of boredom occurs by perceiving stimuli as unidimensional.   "...cognitive changes in the direction of less differentiated and more homogeneous construing give rise to a state of subjective monotony which induces, or perhaps even represents, the state we call boredom" (p. 231)
Waugh (1975) When oredom occurs "...our attitude toward time is altered...Time seems endless, there is no distinction between past, present, and future.  There seems to be only an endless present" (p. 541)
Iso-Ahola & Weissinger (1987); Iso-Ahola & Crowley (1991) The inability to adequately organize one's time increases the likelihood of boredom
Phillips (1993) It is incorrect to consider boredom to be a single construct but rather "... the boredoms, because the notion itself includes a multiplicity of moods and feelings ..." (p. 78).