Boredom at work may cause serious accidents when safety depends on continuous vigilance, as in medical monitoring or long-haul truck driving. On a behavioral level, boredom has been linked with problems with impulse control, leading to overeating and binge eating, drug and alcohol abuse, and problem gambling. Boredom has even been associated with mortality, lending grim weight to the popular phrase "bored to death."
Although it's clear that boredom can be a serious problem, the scientific study of boredom remains an obscure niche of research, and boredom itself is still poorly understood. Even though it's a common experience, boredom hasn't been clearly defined within the scientific community.
Psychological scientist John Eastwood of York University (Ontario, Canada) and colleagues at the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo wanted to understand the mental processes that underlie our feelings of boredom in order to create a precise definition of boredom that can be applied across a variety of theoretical frameworks. Their new article, which brings together existing research on attention and boredom, is published in the September 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.