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Boredom Can Fuel Hostility Toward Outsiders

Friday, August 19, 2011 By Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune | News Analysis
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It’s all too easy to divide the world into people like us and outsiders. Newly published research points to a surprising factor that exacerbates this unfortunate tendency: Boredom.

Writing in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, University of Limerick psychologists Wijnand van Tilburg and Eric Igou report boredom increases the value we place on groups we feel a part of and decreases the value of those who feel alien to us. They describe five experiments that provide evidence backing up this idea.

Their basic thesis is that boredom is more than a simple lack of stimulation. Rather, they write, bored people experience their lives — or at least the situations they find themselves in at the moment — as fundamentally meaningless.

Tom Jacobs

Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Ventura County Star.

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Boredom Can Fuel Hostility Toward Outsiders

Friday, August 19, 2011 By Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune | News Analysis
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

It’s all too easy to divide the world into people like us and outsiders. Newly published research points to a surprising factor that exacerbates this unfortunate tendency: Boredom.

Writing in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, University of Limerick psychologists Wijnand van Tilburg and Eric Igou report boredom increases the value we place on groups we feel a part of and decreases the value of those who feel alien to us. They describe five experiments that provide evidence backing up this idea.

Their basic thesis is that boredom is more than a simple lack of stimulation. Rather, they write, bored people experience their lives — or at least the situations they find themselves in at the moment — as fundamentally meaningless.

Tom Jacobs

Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Ventura County Star.

Related Stories

Europe's SB1070
By Frank Viviano, New America Media | Op-Ed
The Influence Industry of Rage
By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post Writers Group | Op-Ed

Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus