Shutdown Science: Furloughed Workers Feel the Burden of Boredom

LiveScience:

Jennifer Wade is bored. A program director for the National Science Foundation, Wade normally spends her workdays managing grant proposals and wrangling the reviewers who will decide what research gets federal funding.

But with the federal government shutdown pending a Congressional budget agreement, Wade is stuck at home — and she’s not enjoying it.

“I think nine days is the length of time it takes for anxiety to dissipate, anger to move to a background steady state, and boredom to just take over,” Wade told LiveScience. “I literally paced, a little bit ago, to keep myself from lying on the couch. Now I’m walking to get a coffee just to give myself something to do.”

Whatever the reasons for overlooking boredom, psychology is now taking a closer look. In 2012, Eastwood and colleagues from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo proposed a scientific definition of the emotion: Boredom, they wrote in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, is “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity.”

The researchers also created a scale to measure the state of boredom. (In social science research, “I’m soooo bored,” doesn’t quite work to quantify the feeling.)

Finally, scientists are becoming more adept at eliciting boredom in the lab. Eastwood and his colleagues bore their study participants by making them watch language instruction videos in the language they speak fluently.

“It’s just mind-numbing,” Eastwood said. “You want to claw your eyes out.”

Read the whole story: LiveScience

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