### TL;DR Boredom is often associated with negative connotations b...
I think the method is a bit flawed: Both are boring-followed-by-cre...
Here is a great video **The Scientific Benefits of Boredom** by Ver...
#### What is boredom? - "state in which the level of stimulation...
Do these studies also take into account the number of genius level ...
Recent studies have shown that being bored is not all that negative...
I wonder whether there are any examples of what appears to be bored...
Only 2??
#### Study 1: 1. There were 40 participants in the control group a...
>***"it might be a worthwhile enterprise to allow or even embrace b...
>***"It could be that daydreaming is more significant a factor in t...
Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative?
Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman
University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom
Boredom has traditionally been associated with a range of negative outcomes, both
within the workplace and outside it. More recently, however, it has been suggested that
boredom can have positive outcomes, one of which might be increased creativity. This
study addressed this proposition by examining the relationship between boredom and
creative potential on a range of tasks. Two studies were carried out; the first involved
80 participants taking part in either a boring writing activity or not (control group) fol-
lowed by a creative task. The second study involved a further 90 participants who varied
in the type of boring activity they undertook (either a boring written activity, a boring
reading activity, or a control) and the type of creative task that followed. Results sug-
gested that boring activities resulted in increased creativity and that boring reading
activities lead to more creativity in some circumstances (such as convergent tasks) than
boring written activities. The role of daydreaming as a mediator between boredom and
creativity is discussed and implications are outlined.
Contrary to popular wisdom, boredom is not the result
of having nothing to do. It is very hard to co me up with
a situation where a person’s options are so limited that
he or she literally can do nothing. Rather, boredom
stems from a situation where none of the possible things
that a person can realistically do appeal to the person in
question. This renders the person inactive, and generally
unhappy. Thus, boredom is the result of having nothing
to do that one likes, rather than nothing to do per se.
For most people, boredom is a negative experience; even
described in one study as ‘‘an extremely unpleasant and
distressing experience’’ (Martin, Sadlo, & Stew, 2006,
p. 193 ).
Some researchers have attempted to define boredom
although there is no real consensus. What is agreed
about boredom is that it is a ‘‘complex phenomenon’’
(Martin et al., 2006, p. 196). Hebb (1996) defined it as
a ‘‘state in which the level of stimulation is perceived
as unsatisfactorily low’’ (in Drory, 1982, p. 141). Lack
of external stimulation leads to increased neural arousal
in search of variety—failure to satisfy this leads to the
experience of boredom. Many argue that boredom is a
distinct emotional state, leading Fisher, one of the
forerunners in boredom research, to define boredom as
‘‘an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the
individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and dif-
ficulty concentrating on the current activity ...[such
that] it takes conscious effort to maintain or return
attention to that activity’’ (Fisher, 1993, p. 396).
Despite the variations in definitions, there is sur-
prising consensus in laypeople’s descriptions of the
experience of boredom. A qualitative study by Martin
et al. (2006) reported that all respondents described
boredom as ‘‘feeling stressed, agitated, yet at the same
time lethargic’’ (p. 208). This concurs with a study of
teachers in which respondents described being bored
as tiring, miserable, and frustrating (Mann and
Robinson, 2009). Indeed, boredom has been associated
with a range of negative outcomes both at work and
beyond. Negative consequences at work include: poor
work performance (Vodanovich, 2003), correlations
with anger (Vodanovich, 2003), accidents (Brant on,
1970; Drory, 1982), absenteeism (Brisset & Snow,
1993), more errors (Cox, 1980; Drory, 1982; O’Hanlon,
1981), stress, increased risk taking=thrill seeking (e.g.,
Hamilton, 1983), sleepiness (Grose, 1989), stress-related
Parts of this article were presented at the British Psychological
Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference,
January 13th, 2013.
Correspondence should be sent to Sandi Mann, Senior Lecturer in
Occupational Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of
Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE. E-mail: smann@uclan.ac.uk
CREATIVITY RESEARCH JOURNAL, 26(2), 165–173, 2014
Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1040-0419 print=1532-6934 online
DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2014.901073
health problems, e.g., heart attacks (e.g., Alfredsson,
Karasek, & Theorell, 1982), job dissa tisfaction (Caplan,
Cobb, French, van Harrison, & Pinneau, 1975), and
property damage (Drory, 1982). Some of these conse-
quences are clearly symptoms of the boredom experi-
ence; accidents, mistakes, sleepiness, etc. are all the
result of being unable to sustain attention. Other conse-
quences are a result of the ways that individuals try to
cope with their boredom by either refocusing atte ntion
on the task or seeking additional sti mulation.
In education, boredom has been linked with dimin-
ished academic achievement and school dissatisfaction
(e.g., Maroldo, 1986). For example, students who rated
themselves as often bored had generally lower scores on
academic tests than those who were sometimes bored
(Mikulas & Vodanovich, 1993). Stu dent boredom has
also been shown to be a contributor to truancy (e.g.,
Watt & Vodanovich, 1992). For example, boredom
is one of the most frequently identified causes for
students leaving school temporarily (e.g., skipping
classes, feigning illness) or permanently (Farmer &
Sundberg, 1986; Larson & Richards, 1991). Students
who do not miss classes have been shown to have
higher performance scores (e.g., Farmer & Sundberg,
1986; Grabe, 2005; Handelsman, Briggs, Sullivan, &
Towler, 2005; Maroldo, 1986; Mikulas & Vodanovich,
1993).
IS BOREDOM ALW AYS BAD?
As the previous review suggests, resear ch shows that
being bored is generally a negative experience. Yet bore-
dom, like most emotions, has a purpose and, despite
widely held views about its negative connotations, it is
speculated that there are potentially many benefits to
being bored. These include that of communicating to
others interests, values, and beliefs, and for communi-
cating lack of presence—that the bored person does
not want to be here, functioning as an excuse or jus-
tification (Scott & Lyman, 1968) for noninvolvement
or respite. Boredom might also communicate a desire
to be stimulated by others, as well as providing an
adaptive mechanism against societal noise or infor-
mation overload (Klapp, 1986). Boredom might also
be a ‘‘shield against self-confrontation’’ (Hoover, 1986,
p. 43); a means to avoid discomfort or new knowledge
(Dehlinger, 1975).
Like most emotions, boredom is likely to have had
evolutionary value; as a stimulus proves itself neither
dangerous nor reinforcing, people would simply lose
interest in it and turn attention to other stimuli. If
humans did not bore of things, it would be impos sible
to habituate to the continued minutiae of life and every-
one would be constantly preoccupied with every minor
stimulus to such an extent that they might not attend
to real threats.
A final function or benefit of bor edom is that it might
stimulate the ‘‘production of fantasies, awakening crea-
tiveness’’ (Brisset & Snow, 1993, p. 243). Boredom is,
paradoxically, a motivating force=catalyst for action:
‘‘Boredom ...is an alerting phenomenon that all is
not well and something must be done’’ (Gaylin, 1979,
p. 129). Boredom might stimulate the need to redecor-
ate, take up a new hobby, or look for a new job. The
feeling, then, can induce challenge-seeking behavior,
and therein lies the paradox that boredom, associated by
many with lethargy, can actually be energising, inspiring
a search for ‘‘change and va riety’’ (Harris, 2000, p. 578).
BOREDOM, CREATIVITY AND
DAYDREAMING
This idea that boredom can lead to a search for variety
was taken up by Bell (2011), who suggested that bore-
dom may well boost creativity. When individ uals are
bored, they find it difficult to focus their attention on
the task, and thought processes shift to other areas that
can provide more stimulation. When the bored individ-
ual cannot physically escape the task to undertake a
more engaging one, this attention shift is often from
an external focus on the task, to a more interna l focus
on inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This inner
focus allows a way of gaining the stimulation that is
being craved and that is missing from the boring task.
This internal focus could involve a search for new ways
to carry out the boring task to make it more engaging
(Toohey, 2011) or could involve thinking about unre-
lated problems or ideas the consideration of which is
more appealing than the boring task at hand. It is this
attention-shifting that is termed daydreaming, and is
thus a common by-product of boredom (Smallwood &
Schooler, 2006). Indeed, previous research has shown
that individuals use daydreaming to regulate boredom-
induced tension (Tushup & Zuckerman, 1977), thus
suggesting that daydreaming is used as a coping strategy
for dealing with the unpleasant state of boredom (Smith,
1981).
In concordance with this, Singer (1975) described
daydreaming as shifting attention from the external
situation or problem to the internal representation of
situations, memories, pictures, unresolved things, sce-
narios, or future goals. Smallwood (2011) more recently
explained the process of daydreaming as ‘‘a state of
decoupled processing in which attention to ongoing per-
ceptual information is reduced often in favor of the
active consideration of internally generated thoughts
and feeling’’ (p. 63). Schank (1982) proposed that
daydreaming is a part of dynamic memory. Dynamic
166
MANN AND CADMAN
memory is the ability to reevaluate information and
possible solutions with the reexamining of a problem
or unresolved scenario (Schank, 1999). The act of day-
dreaming can thus provide individuals with the opport-
unity to reexamine a prob lem or situation that is
preoccupying their minds as many times as they wish,
in varied ways and each time incorporating new
information and possible solutions. The benefit of day-
dreaming, then, is that seemingly illogical ideas can be
explored in ways that may not be practically feasible
and through this exploration a new or more suitable
solution to problems or unresolved situations may be
found. This, then, can lead to creative problem-solving
(Singer, 1981) and suggests a link between daydreaming
and creativity (Singer, 1975). This theme was taken up
more recently, in an article in Newsweek (Begley, Bailey,
Sone, & Interlandi, 2009) which described daydreaming
as a ‘‘propitious mental state for creativity, insight and
problem solving’’ (Begley et al., 2009, p. 36) in which
‘‘truly novel solutions and ideas emerge’’ due to the day-
dreaming brain being able to bring togeth er unrelated
facts and thoughts.
THE PRESENT STUDIES
Our studies explored the hypothesis that boring activi-
ties lead to increased creativity. The first study used a
boring writing task to induce boredom and a divergent
thinking task to measure creative potential. Divergent
tasks are where there are no set answers to creative
problems, but divergent thinkers can come up with a
range of novel answers; these are among the most com-
mon means of assessing creative potential. Divergent
thinking tasks require the individual to think creatively
by using lateral thinking to produce various solutions
to a given problem (Plucker & Renzulli, 1999) and lend
themselves to boredom research given the daydreaming
element of boredom (Smallwood et al., 2006).
The writing task might hinder the daydreaming
thought to be necessary for creativity to be enhanced,
due to it interfering with the propensity for attention
to wander. This was suggested by previous research;
for example, doodling when bored improved cognitive
performance for students and it is thought this was
due to it interfering with daydreaming (Andrade, 2010).
Thus, the second study introduced a boring reading task
in addition to the writing task.
Divergent thinking is not the only form of assessment
in creativity, however, and has not been without its cri-
tiques (Weisberg, 2006). Part of the criticism of diver-
gent thinking as a measure of creative potential has
been in the scoring of divergent thinking tasks, in parti-
cular with the commonly used method of frequency and
uniqueness scoring, which simply looks at the number
and rarity of the answers—rather than taking into con-
sideration how useful or creative the answers are (Silvia
et al., 2008). This can lead to confounding results, as
with more answers there is a higher prob ability of there
being unique answers (Silvia et al., 2008). To address
this limitation, both frequency (number of answers)
and creative usefulness (in terms of the range of creative
uses of the responses that were generated), were assessed
independently by two raters, as suggested by Silvia et al.
(2008), in these studies. The use of more than one
creative divergent thinking task also address ed the
concerns that Silvia et al. (2008) had in relation to
the problems of reliability in using only one task. In
addition, Study 2 also introduced a convergent creative
task (where there are definite answers to a problem) to
further address any possible limitations.
STUDY 1
This study investigated the impact of undertaking a bor-
ing writing activity (copying telephone numbers from a
phone directory) on subsequent levels of creativity
shown in a divergent thinking task (to come up with
as many uses for a pair of polystyrene cups as possible).
The independent variable (IV) was the precreativity
activity—either a boring task or not. The dependent
variables (DVs) were the number of answers produced
in the creative potential task and the degree of creative
usefulness of those answers.
The participants were from an opportunity sample
from a community church local to one of the researchers.
No ages were recorded; however, all participants were
over 18. There were 80 participants (40 control condition
and 40 boredom condition) with an even split of gender
for each condition. Two raters were used to assess the
level of useful creativity (i.e., the degree of creativity in
coming up with different uses of the objects) of the
answers provided. These raters were colleagu es of one
of the authors, but blind to the hypotheses of the study.
Materials/Apparatus
The participants in the boredom condition recei ved an
information briefing sheet, pages from a telephone book,
and a recording sheet on which to write down the tele-
phone numbers. After this, participants in both the
boredom and the control conditions underwent the
same creative task. Both sets of participants received
the same instruction sheet for this task, two polystyrene
cups, the recording sheet to write down their list
of different uses for the cups, and a postprocedure
information sheet containing the researcher’s contact
information.
The boredom task was created especially for this
study; howeve r, the creative uses task was an adapted
DOES BEING BORED MAKE US MORE CREATIVE?
167
version of Guilford’s Alternative Uses Brick Task (1967,
cited in Silvia et al., 2008), which has been widely used
and has become an accepted measure of divergent
thinking.
The raters were provided with the instruction sheets
briefly explaining the study and the criteria, the parti-
cipants answer sheets from the creative task, and a
recording sheet to record the scores.
Procedure
The participants in the boredom condition were asked
to write down telephone numbers from a phone book
for 15 min. Once the time had elapsed, they were asked
to rate how boring they found the activit y as a manipu-
lation check, on a 5-point Likert scale (1 ¼ not boring,
5 ¼ extremely boring) and participants with scores below
4 did not continue with the study, to ensure that the
participants were experiencing a boring task.
Participants were also asked to state if they noticed
that they daydreamed at any point during the boring
task. Only those who admitted to daydreaming contin-
ued on to the creative task.
The creative potential task consisted of the parti-
cipants being given 3 min to list as many different uses
for the two polystyrene cups they were provided with.
Once the 3 min had elapsed, the participants were asked
to circle their two most creative uses of the cups. The
participants were then fully debriefed. All the answers
were compiled and given to two raters to assess the
two most creative answers.
The experimenter was on hand at all times to answer
any queries. The rater began by eliminating any
duplicate answers from the list and then rated the two
most creative answers on a 5-point Likert scale (1 ¼ no
creativity,5¼ high creativity). They wer e assessing the
answers for both quality (jn terms of how useful the
suggestions were) and how unusual the answers were.
They then recorded the average score for the two most
creative answers and recorded it on the sheet provided.
Results
The mean Kappa coefficient (0.82) revealed a high
reliability (Kappa result ov er 0.70), so no alterations
were made to the rater procedures. The rater scores were
averaged and an overall score was assigned to each
participant.
The mean frequency and standard deviation were
obtained for the number of answers provided (Table 1).
An independent t-test was used to investigate the
mean frequency of the number of answers provided.
The results revealed that there was a significant differ-
ence between scores for the two conditions (t ¼
"4.316, df ¼ 78, p < 0.0005), indicating that the number
of answers were higher for participants who completed a
boredom task followed by the creative task than for
participants who completed the creative task alone
(control condition). This is also confirmed by the mean
scores (see Table 2). An independent t-test was used to
investigate the mean creativity of answers provided.
The results revealed that there was a nonsignificant dif-
ference between scores for the two conditions (t ¼"4.
df ¼ 78, p > 0.05).
Results from Study 1 suggested then that the boring
writing task did increase the number of responses
produced, which is one measure of creative potential;
however, being bored did not appear to lead to more
creative answers. These results led to the adaption of
new techniques for Study 2.
STUDY 2
The second study atte mpted to investigate further the
hypothesis that boredom leads to enhanced creativity
by making changes to the design of Study 1. In Study
2, a second boredom task was introduced (a boring
reading task), as well as two extra creative potential
tasks (one of whic h was a convergent task). The extra
creative potential tasks were added as a way of ensuri ng
generalizability of findings. It was further predicted that
participants’ creativity would be higher following the
reading boredom task than following the written boring
task an d the control, because of the greater opportu-
nities for daydreaming afforded by reading over writing
(Andrade, 2010).
Participants
Participants were recruited on an opportunistic basis at
the same venue as Study 1, but individuals who had
TABLE 1
Mean Frequency and Standard Deviation Scores for the
Number of Answers Provided After Completing a Creative
Task Across a Control and Boredom Condition
Mean SD
Control 7.33 2.01
Boredom 10.63 4.4
TABLE 2
Mean Frequency and Standard Deviation Scores for the
Level of Creativity of the Two Most Creative Answers
Provided After Completing a Creative Task Across a
Control and Boredom Condition
Mean SD
Control 3.58 0.68
Boredom 3.65 0.98
168 MANN AND CADMAN
taken part in Study 1 were excluded. They were ran-
domly assigned to the various conditions by selecting a
time slot. Again, no ages were recorded but all parti-
cipants were over 18. There were 90 participants for
Study 2: 30 in the control condition, 30 in the written
boredom condition, and 30 in the reading boredom con-
dition, with an even split of gender for each condition.
Materials/Apparatus
The participants in the two boredom conditions (written
or reading ) received an information sheet and pages
from a telephone book. Participants in the written bore-
dom condition also received a recording sheet to write
down the telephone numbers.
All conditions received an instruction sheet for
Creative Potential Task 1 (which was the same task as
in Study 1), two polystyrene cups, and the recording
sheet to write down their list of different uses for the
cups. Once Creative Potential Task 1 was completed,
they underwent Creative Potential Task 2 and received
an instruction sheet and recording sheet to write a list
of different consequences to global narcolepsy (a chro-
nic sleep disorder that can include excessive sleepiness
and sleep attacks).
Once Creative Potential Task 2 was completed, they
moved onto the last task. They received an instruction
sheet and recording sheet for Creative Potential Task
3, which consisted of a series of word problems. After
all the tasks were completed, the participants were given
a postprocedure information sheet containing the
researcher’s contact information.
The boredom tasks were created especially for this
study; however, the creative uses task was an adaptation
from other research. Creative Potential Task 2 was
adapted from Christ ensen, Merrifield, and Guilford’s
Consequences Task (1953, cited in Furnham, Crump,
Batey, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2009); Creative Potential
Task 3, a convergent creative task, was created for this
study and adapted from Mednick and Mednick Remote
Associations Test (1962, 1967, cited in Isen, Daubman,
& Nowicki, 1987) and involved completing as many
answers as possible (in 3 min) to a series of 40 word
problems. Participants were permitted to answer them
in any order. They consisted of three stimulus words
and were asked to generate the fourth word that
combined with each of the stimulus words . They could
combine to form a compound word=phrase, a shared
meaning word or a shared relationship. For example
the answer to the three stimulus words MEASURE,
WORM, and VIDEO would be TAPE (tape measure,
tape worm, and video tape).
These methods of assessing creative thinking have
been widely used as a measure of creativity (Furnham
et al., 2009; Isen et al., 1987; Silvia et al., 2008) and by
using more than one creative task, it increases the
reliability of the results (Silvia et al., 2008).
The raters were provided with the instruction sheets
that were used in the pilot study, the participants answ er
sheets and three copies of the reco rding sheets.
Procedure
The tasks were conducted in the same mann er as in
Study 1. The participant s in the written boredom con-
dition were asked to write down telephone numbers
from a phone book for 15 min, and in the reading bore-
dom condition were asked to read the telephone num-
bers for 15 min. Once the time had elapsed, they were
asked to rate the boredom activity on a 5-point Likert
scale (1 ¼ not boring,5¼ extremely boring) and parti-
cipants with scores below 4 did not continue with the
study. Those who rated the task as boring and indicated
that they daydreamed continued on to do the three cre-
ative potential tasks. Participants in the control con-
dition undertook the three creative potential tasks
without either of the telephone numbers tasks.
Before beginning, each creative potential task the
participants received an instruction sheet. The exper-
imenter was on hand to answer any queries. Each task
was 3 min long and, once the time had elapsed, parti-
cipants were asked to circle their two most creative
answers. Once this was completed, they moved on to
the next task.
Once all the tasks were completed, all the answers
were compiled and given to two raters to assess the
two most creative answers. This followed the same
procedure as Study 1.
Results
The mean boredom score (for how boring they found
the boredom task) for those that took part in the written
boredom task condition was 4.3 and the mean score for
those taking part in the reading boredom task was 4.5.
The mean frequency and standard deviation were
obtained for the number of answers provided for each
of the first two tasks of creative potential and for the
number of correct answers in the third creative task
(Table 3).
A one-way between-subjects analysis of varianc e was
(ANOVA) conducted for Task 1 to see if the mean num-
ber of answers on this task differed for each of the three
conditions. The results revealed a significant effect of
condition, F(2, 87) ¼ 14.45, p ¼ 0.000, g
2
¼ 0.25. Post
hoc Bonferroni paired comparisons tests suggested that
the written and reading conditions did not differ signifi-
cantly from each other (p ¼ 0.062), but written differed
significantly from the control condition (p ¼ 0.01) and
DOES BEING BORED MAKE US MORE CREATIVE?
169
the reading different significantly from the control
condition (p ¼ 0.000).
A one-way between-subjects ANOVA was conducted
for Task 2 to see if the mean number of answers on this
task differed for each of the three conditions. The results
revealed a significant effect of condition, F(2, 87) ¼
36.098, p ¼ 0.000, g
2
¼ 0.45. Post hoc Bonferroni paired
comparisons tests suggested that the reading and writing
conditions differed significantly (p ¼ 0.000) from each
other, the reading and control differed significantly
(p ¼ 0.000) and that the writing and control differed
significantly (p ¼ 0.003).
A one-way between-subjects ANOVA was conducted
for Task 3 to see if the mean number of correct answers
on this task differed for each of the three conditions.
The results revealed a significant effect of condition, F(2,
87) ¼ 4.334, p ¼ 0.016, g
2
¼ 0.09. Post hoc Bonferroni
paired comparisons tests sugg ested that the only signifi-
cant differences lay between the reading and control
conditions (p ¼ 0.019).
The level of creativity of answers given in the creative
tasks 1 and 2 was examined next (but not for Task 3,
which involved only supplying right or wrong answers);
see Table 4.
Two one-way ANOVAs were performed to investi-
gate the differences between scores for each task across
the three conditions.
The Task 1 ANOVA revealed that there was a signifi-
cant effect of the condition, F(2, 87) ¼ 7.574, p ¼ 0.001,
g
2
¼ 0.15. Post hoc Bonferroni paired comparisons tests
suggested that the control group differed significantl y
from the written condition (p ¼ 0.043) and the reading
condition (p ¼ 0.001) but that the written and reading
conditions did not differ significantly from each other
(p ¼ 0.56).
The Task 2 ANOVA revealed that there was a signifi-
cant effect of the condition, F(2, 87) ¼ 11.67, p ¼ 0.000,
g
2
¼ 0.2. Post hoc Bonferroni paired comparisons tests
suggested that the control group differed significantl y
from the written condition (p ¼ 0.002) and the reading
condition (p ¼ 0.000), but that the writt en and reading
conditions did not differ significantly from each other
(p ¼ 0.98).
DISCUSSION
The aim of the two studies reported here was to examine
the effects of boredom on creative potential. Two differ-
ent methods of inducing boredom were used (written
task in Study 1 and both reading and writing tasks in
Study 2) and creative potential was measured with a
range of different tasks.
Study 1 revealed that participants came up with sig-
nificantly more answers to a creative task following a
written boredom task than without such a task. How-
ever, although more answers were produced following
the boring task, these were not judged to actually be
more creative. This suggests that being bored can lead
to increased creativity in terms of quantity, but not
necessarily in terms of quality. This dichotomy could
be due to the writing task interfering with the ability to
daydream, because the active act of writing is likely to
have the role of refocusing attention on the task (and
thus inhibiting daydreaming) in accordance with
Andrade’s (2010) finding that doodling inhibi ted
daydreaming.
Study 2 thus introduced a reading boring task in
addition to the written boring task, but the results sug-
gested that the number of creative answers and their
level of creativity in Task 1, although higher for the
reading condition, were not significantly higher. This
suggests that boring reading tasks do not lead to signifi-
cantly more creativity (at least for this type of task) than
boring writing tasks do and thus suggests that either the
written task did not inhibit daydreaming enough for it
to effect creativity or that daydreaming is a not as
important a moderator of the boredom-creativity link
as hypothesised.
However, the boring tasks, whether written or read,
did lead to an increase in both the number of creative
answers produced in Task 1, as well as their level of
TABLE 3
Mean Frequency and Standard Deviation Scores for the
Number of Answers Provided After Completing a Series of
Creative Tasks (1, 2 and 3) Across a Control, Written
Boredom and Reading Boredom Condition
Task Group
Creative Task
Row
Mean
Task 1 Task 2 Task 3
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Control 8.03 2.83 6.73 1.95 6.47 0.82 7.08
Written boredom 10.03 2.09 8.70 1.95 6.97 0.81 8.57
Reading boredom 11.60 2.74 11.60 2.71 7.10 1.00 10.10
Column mean 9.89 2.94 9.01 2.99 6.84 0.91
TABLE 4
Mean Frequency and Standard Deviation Scores for the
Level of Creativity of the Two Most Creative Answers Provided
After Completing a Series of Creative Tasks (1 and 2) Across a
Control, Written Boredom and Reading Boredom Condition
Task 1 Task 2
Mean SD Mean SD
Control 2.67 0.66 2.73 0.83
Written boredom 3.17 0.79 3.47 0.86
Reading boredom 3.43 0.86 3.67 0.66
Column mean 3.09 0.83 3.29 0.88
170 MANN AND CADMAN
creativity (in terms of how useful they were), when
compared to the control (nonboring) condition. These
findings contradict those of Study 1, which found that
level of creativity did not significantly increase after
the reading boring task and demonstrates the need for
more research in the area.
Study 2 also introduced two new creative potential
tasks to investigate whether the type of creative task
makes a difference. In Task 2, the number of answers
(but not their level of creativity) did differ significantly
between the reading and writing conditions such that
more answers were produced in the reading condition.
This supports the idea that fluency (or number of ideas)
does not necessarily equate to originality and creativity
of those ideas because previous researchers (e.g., A.
Snyder, Mitchell, Bossamaier, & Pallier, 2004) have sug-
gested that adding more ideas within the same category,
is not necessarily as creative as add ing new categories. It
also lends some support to the hypothesis that boring
reading tasks facilitate more daydreaming than boring
written tasks—and it is this daydreaming that leads to
an increase in creativity. Both conditions also produced
significantly more answers than in the control group.
Like in Task 1, these answers were significantly more
creative in the two boring conditions than in the control
group. The use of Task 2 then, like Task 1, clearly
showed a link between boredom and creativity; Tasks
1 and 2, which were both creative uses or divergent
tasks, showed similar findings in that preceding them
with a boring task increased both the number of creative
answers and the level of creativity of those answers.
Task 3 was a totally different type of creative task
that could produce only right or wrong answers (a con-
vergent task). Here, only the reading boring task, and
not the written boring task, led to a significant increase
the number of correct responses. This again lends
further support to the hypothesis that writing inhibits
daydreaming (Smallwood et al., 2006) and that day-
dreaming is a mediator of boredom and creativity
(e.g., Klinger 1987). It could be that daydreaming is
more significant a factor in the stimulation of creative
thoughts with convergent creative tasks than with the
divergent tasks; daydreaming might be more useful in
creative problem-solving tasks in which there are finite
solutions to be found, than in more imaginative creative
tasks where there are infinite possible outcomes.
Implications of Study
The findings have implications for the way that bore-
dom is viewed both by society at large and by communi-
ties, such as within the work or education spheres. Until
recently, boredom has been viewed as a negative emo-
tion with only negative outcomes, but these studies
add weight to the evidence that suggests that boredom
can sometimes be a force for good. This means that it
might be a worthwhile enterprise to allow or even
embrace boredom in work, education, and leisure. On
an individual basis, if one is trying to solve a problem
or come up with creat ive solutions, the findings from
our studies suggest that undertaking a boring task
(especially a reading task) might help with coming up
with a more creative outcome.
Limitations and Implications for Future Research
Within the two studies, there was one contradictory
finding; in Study 1, the level of creativity in the an swers
given did not increase (when compared with the control
group) following the writing boredom task, but they did
when using the same task in Study 2. This suggests the
need for further replication using much larger numbers
of participants. It would also be useful to explore the
role of daydreaming as a mediator of the proposed
boredom-creativity link further by more in-depth mea-
surement of daydreaming during boring tasks followed
by regression techniques.
It should also be considered that the method of
asking respondents to select their own most creative
answers might be flawed in that previous research has
suggested that individuals are poor at doing this; asking
independent raters to do this might have produced more
clarity in the results (Runco & Smith, 1992). There may
also have be en some confusion as how respon dents
selected their two responses reflecting the most creative
use of the cups and how these were subsequently rated
by the raters. Previous studies ha ve simp ly used useful-
ness of the responses, so introducing the word term cre-
ative usefulness may have confused matters such that it
cannot be certain that the most useful responses were
being selected and rated, as oppose to the most creative
responses (which might not be the same thing) . Useful-
ness is considered by some to be more important than
creativity, as ideas that are bizarr e and impractical are
not always seen as evidence of creativity when compared
with ideas that have practical value (Zeng, Proctor, &
Salvendy, 2011).
Future studies could also examine originality of
answers, which was alluded to in our studies but not
objectively measured, or other more objective measures
such as those enco mpassed in A. Snyder et al.’s (2004)
creativity quotient, which incorporates both fluency
and flexibility of ideas. Zeng et al. (2011) reviewed a
range of DT measures of creative potential and
concluded that assessing appropriateness and novelty
are key.
A further important limitation in Study 2 was in the
temporal relation of the three creative tasks wi th the
boredom task. The boredom task was carried out first,
then Creative Task 1, then Creative Task 2, then
DOES BEING BORED MAKE US MORE CREATIVE?
171
Creative Task 3. This meant that by Creative Task 3,
two creative tasks had intervened since the boring task
and this might have negated the effects of the boring
task. It would be useful in future studies to precede eac h
place, namely a church. Although the relationship
between religiosity and creativity has rarely been
explored in the literature, links between them have been
theoretically proposed (Zysberg & Schenck, 2013), so
future research could ensure greater external validity
by ensuring a wider mix of participants.
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Discussion

>***"It could be that daydreaming is more significant a factor in the stimulation of creative thoughts with convergent creative tasks than with the divergent tasks; daydreaming might be more useful in creative problem-solving tasks in which there are finite solutions to be found, than in more imaginative creative tasks where there are infinite possible outcomes."*** Here is a great video **The Scientific Benefits of Boredom** by Veritasium about the benefits of being bored: [![veritasium](https://i.imgur.com/0F42BDJ.jpg)](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKPwKFigF8U) #### What is boredom? - "state in which the level of stimulation is perceived as unsatisfactorily low" - "an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and dif- ficulty concentrating on the current activity" - "feeling stressed, agitated, yet at the same time lethargic" >***"it might be a worthwhile enterprise to allow or even embrace boredom in work, education, and leisure. On an individual basis, if one is trying to solve a problem or come up with creative solutions, the findings from our studies suggest that undertaking a boring task (especially a reading task) might help with coming up with a more creative outcome."*** Do these studies also take into account the number of genius level students who are bored by subject matter that is too easy? Or is that proportion negligible with respect to these studies? Only 2?? I think the method is a bit flawed: Both are boring-followed-by-creative task and then "creativity" was measured; yet there isn't a reverse direction. I.e. creative-followed-by-boring task and then "creativity" measured. Or alternatively, some tasks may be boring to the mind but require intense concentration. These may not reach the same conclusion. I wonder whether there are any examples of what appears to be boredom within primates or other animal species. Recent studies have shown that being bored is not all that negative. As a matter of fact being bored could have a positive impact on: - **Empathy:** Being bored induces us to think about others in an altruistic way. Studies designed to induce boredom have shown that bored participants were more likely to donate to charity, or give blood. - **Creativity:** Boredom induces daydreaming which leads to a creative problem-solving and is related with higher creativity. Recent studies have shown that people tend to be more creative after being bored for a short amount of time (several minutes). - **Productivity:** Boredom acts like a warning that the task at hand is not stimulating enough. It will push us to act in order to get out of the current unpleasant situation. - **Goal setting:** When we are bored we are stimulated to think about our life and what we want to do in the future thus helping us set meaningful goals. ### TL;DR Boredom is often associated with negative connotations but recent studies show that being bored might actually be beneficial. This paper **discusses the main benefits of boredom and studies the impact of boredom on creativity and problem-solving capacity**. Some of the benefits of boredom include: - More altruistic thought and developed empathy. - Boredom induces daydreaming which leads to increased creativity and problem-solving. - When we are bored we are stimulated to introspect and think about thus helping us with goal setting. The main findings of this paper are: - Being bored seems to induce daydreaming and spark creativity and improve our problem-solving capacity. - Being bored and daydreaming seem to have a greater impact on creative problem-solving tasks in which there are finite solutions to be found than in more imaginative creative tasks where there are infinite possible outcomes. >***"it might be a worthwhile enterprise to allow or even embrace boredom in work, education, and leisure. On an individual basis, if one is trying to solve a problem or come up with creative solutions, the findings from our studies suggest that undertaking a boring task (especially a reading task) might help with coming up with a more creative outcome."*** #### Study 1: 1. There were 40 participants in the control group and 40 participants in the "boring-writing" group. 2. Participants were asked to do a boring writing task. 3. After the boring task, they were asked to come up with creative ideas (no right or wrong answers). **The boring group managed to produce more ideas/answers than the control group.** The creativity of ideas did not differ much which could be related to the fact that writing inhibits daydreaming and thus inhibits creativity. #### Study 2: 1. There were 30 participants in the control group, 30 participants in the "boring-writing" group and 30 participants in the "boring-reading" group. 2. Participants were asked to do respectively a boring writing or reading task. 3. After the boring task, they were asked to come up with creative ideas for 3 different tasks. 4. The last task (task 3) is a different type of task, **only right or wrong answers**. **The boring reading and writing groups produced more ideas/answers than the control group.** The "boring-reading" group managed to produce more ideas than the two other groups. The creativity of their ideas differed significantly between the "boring" groups and the control group. Boring reading tasks seem to facilitate more daydreaming than boring writing tasks. The boring reading group outperformed both other groups thus indicating that **being bored might be useful in creative problem-solving tasks in which there are finite solutions.**