Scientists are taking on boredom. No, they aren’t working on a cure just yet, but they have written a new definition of boredom and outlined the mental processes behind ennui.
The researchers, led by psychological scientist John Eastwood of York University in Ontario, Canada, define boredom as “an aversive state of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity,” which springs from failures in one of the brain’s attention networks.
The findings, detailed in the September issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, may speak to many Americans: In a large survey of high-school students across 26 U.S. states reported in 2007, researchers found two out of three students said they were bored in class every day. A 2003 national survey found 91 percent of young Americans polled said they experienced boredom, according to Eastwood and his colleagues.