Boredom is a prevalent emotion with potentially negative consequences. Among working adults, prevalence estimates range from a quarter up to 87%, reporting feelings of boredom at work at least sometimes.
What constitutes a stereotypically boring person, and what reactions do they incur?
For the first time, scientists investigated the boring people stereotype across relevant domains: beliefs about their interpersonal attributes, occupations, interests and the subsequent reactions to stereotypically boring people. They found that the most boring person in the world is a religious data entry worker who likes watching TV and lives in a town.
This study by the University of Essex also revealed jobs, characteristics, and hobbies considered a stereotypical snooze.
Scientists volunteered 500 people across five experiments. They found that boring jobs are seen as data analysis, accounting, cleaning, and banking.
Such people are generally disliked and avoided due to preconceptions. What’s more, being perceived as boring likely conveys low competence and low interpersonal warmth. It may increase the risk of harm, addiction, and mental health issues.
Led by the Department of Psychology, Dr. Wijnand Van Tilburg said, “The irony is studying boredom is very interesting and has many real-life impacts. This paper shows how persuasive perceptions of boredom are and what an impact this can have on people.”
“Perceptions can change, but people may not take time to speak to those with ‘boring’ jobs and hobbies, instead choosing to avoid them. They don’t get a chance to prove people wrong and break these negative stereotypes. The fact that people avoid them can lead to social ostracization and increase loneliness leading to a negative impact on their lives.”
Dr. Van Tilburg said, “It was interesting to see that the study showed that boring people were not seen as competent. I would have thought that accountants would be seen as boring but effective and the perfect person to do a good job on your tax return. The truth is that people like bankers and accountants are highly capable and have power in society – perhaps we should try not to upset them and stereotype them as boring.”
Scientists listed top five most boring jobs:
- Data Analysis
Top five most exciting jobs:
- Performing arts
- Health professional
Top five most boring hobbies:
- Watching TV
- Observing animals
- Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg, Eric R. Igou and Mehr Panjwani. Boring People: Stereotype Characteristics, Interpersonal Attributions, and Social Reactions. DOI: 10.1177/01461672221079104