Before today, I thought there was only one way to be bored. But a paper published this week in the Journal of Motivation and Emotion has opened my eyes to the varying degrees by which I can experience total and utter boredom. Shockingly, this is the pioneering study into the field of mind-numbing ennui. “Given the high frequency of boredom in various situations encountered in daily life and the variety of detrimental experiences to which boredom is related, it is rather surprising that to date there has been little research conducted on this specific emotion,” lead researcher Thomas Goetz told the Los Angeles Times.
To find out how and how often we are bored, Goetz's research team at the University of Konstanz gave asked two sets of subjects — 63 college students and 80 high-school students — to log what they were doing and how they felt 6 times a day. From that data, they found that not only are people bored for most of their day, but also that there are five distinct categories of boredom:
Indifferent Boredom: "Relaxing and slightly positive type of boredom that reflected a general indifference to, and withdrawal from, the external world." (Staycations; visiting your childhood home; weekend Netflix binges.)
Calibrating Boredom: Marked by "wandering thoughts and a general openness to behaviors aimed at changing the situation." (Playing Candy Crush on the subway instead of zoning out.)
Searching Boredom: The restless kind of bored that leaves you "actively seeking out specific ways of minimizing feelings of boredom." (Group-texting your friends "Where the party at?" when you renege on your decision to spend a "quiet night in.")
Reactant Boredom: A more aggressive kind of being bored where you need to "leave the boredom-inducing situation and avoid those responsible for this situation." (Most OkCupid dates.)
Apathetic Boredom: You're just so bored you can't do anything about it, and it doesn't even matter. Dangerous to mental health, as one might become listless and depressed. (When there is no more Friday Night Lights to watch on Netflix and you can't bear to select a new series; Sunday nights.)
Results also found that college students were bored 28 percent of the time and high-school students were bored 39 percent of the time. Researchers neglected to poll people over the age of 25 because obviously, that's where fun goes to die, so why even ask.