Boredom Could be a Driver for Creativity and Performance

Two Factor Theory (Human Motivation)
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Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

Boredom Could be a Driver for Creativity and Performance

Negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and boredom are believed to generate behavioural issues and declined performance at work. However, research by Park, Lim and Oh (2019) surprisingly shows that compared to the other negative emotions, BOREDOM might not be that bad after all...

Boredom is the unpleasant and dissatisfied feeling when a person lacks stimulation and has trouble concentrating on the job on hand. Feeling bored pushes people to change the current situation and may trigger curiosity and facilitate learning in individuals.

Research on Boredom. Findings

  • Boredom helps boost individual productivity on an idea-generation task in terms of the number and uniqueness of ideas.
  • A higher level of boredom conditions increases only boredom, but no other negative emotions that are mixed with boredom, such as anger or frustration.
  • Boredom influences individual creativity differently. People with a higher level of openness to experience, need for cognition (NOC), goal orientation (LGO), and internal locus of control (LOC) benefit more from being bored than others.

Implications for Managers

  • Boredom as latent energy could be managed for the benefit of individuals and organisations.
  • Managers need to be mindful about inducing boredom in the work environment to improve creativity and performance. For example, companies who have spaces for employees to nap or spend time to get recharged might think of replacing entertainment equipment with things such as bowls of coloured beans.
  • Managers also need to be more aware of the unique traits of individuals, such as openness to experience, NOC, LGO, and internal LOC. By doing that, they can achieve their desired employee performance outcome by arranging some "boredom periods" during the day.
Source: Park, G., Lim, B. and Oh, H., 2019. Why Being Bored Might Not Be a Bad Thing After All. Academy of Management Discoveries, 5(1), pp.78-92.

  Jaap de Jonge
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  Maurice Hogarth
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