Boredom in COVID-19: The good, the bad and the ugly of the 5 types of Boredom

By |2020-06-19T20:57:21+10:00June 19th, 2020|

Yes there are five types of Boredom, which were outlined by Thomas Goetz of the University of Konstanz in Germany and his colleagues, and this blog will discuss these, along with the good and bad aspects of them.

As we begin to move through COIVD-19 and restrictions ease, perhaps boredom is not such an issue. For those who have to self-isolate or have restrictions this may be a difficult, and if you are still having boredom despite changes in restrictions it might be valuable to talk to a professional in case it represents something else.

1. Indifferent boredom

Those experiencing Indifferent boredom showed slightly positive emotions and very low arousal. This type of boredom is reflected in feeling relaxed, withdrawn and indifferent. It was shown to be higher in non-achievement related activities as compared to achievement contexts. On the whole, this was the least bad type of boredom.

Maybe this one could be changed by doing something achievement oriented.

2. Calibrating boredom

During calibrating boredom you are uncertain, but receptive to change or distraction. You might be feeling a slightly higher level of agitation and slightly negative emotions. In this state you might want to do something, but don’t know what to do.

carpe diem (seize the day, or in this case anything that comes up) might help

3. Searching boredom

Searching boredom is characterised by restlessness, and the active pursuit of change or distraction. An example of this might be more active looking for something to do, such as a hobby or an activity (which has been hard in the context of COVID-19). People experiencing searching boredom are more emotionally agitated and feel more negative than indifferent and calibrating boredom.

carpe tempus – seize the moment might help

4. Reactant boredom

Reactant boredom, during this you experience high levels of negative emotion and relatively high levels of arousal. Feeling highly reactant, and motivated to leave the situation for specific alternatives. This one is more associated with achievement settings, work, school, study.

Maybe it is time to have a break?

5. Apathetic boredom

Apathetic boredom was found to be highly aversive yet corresponded with low levels of both positive and negative feeling states. This one appears to feel the most like depression as outlined below.

Goetz made some important statements about this kind of boredom, including “an emotion type more similar to… depression… consistent with empirical findings showing positive relations between boredom and depression” (p 414).

If you are experiencing this kind of boredom and it doesn’t seem to change, even after moving out of self-isolation, or restriction. Then talking to a professional, at the Centre for Clinical Psychology might be helpful.

Managing Boredom

The typical ways to manage boredom are planning ahead to do meaningful activities. Watch out for hours of zoned out unpleasant states on Facebook and Instagram, sometimes these things start to lack meaning. Talk directly to friends and family via phone and Facebook. Cast your mind back to when you were younger and what you enjoyed.
For some idea try the CCI fun catalogue



Goetz, T., Frenzel, A. C., Hall, N. C., Nett, U. E., Pekrun, R., & Lipnevich, A. A. (2014). Types of boredom: An experience sampling approach. Motivation and Emotion, 38(3), 401-419. doi:

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