Bored to death? It's possible

Feb 09, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
boredom
Image credit: David Giacalone

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from the University College London in the U.K. have found that living a life of boredom can kill you.

The scientists, Annie Britton and Martin J. Shipley of the Department of Epidemiology and , studied the data recorded in a survey of over 7,500 civil servants between the ages of 35 and 55, carried out between 1985 and 1988 about their level of boredom. They then investigated to find out whether the respondents were still alive (in April 2009).

The original survey found that 10 per cent of the respondents reported having been bored within the previous month, with women reporting being bored more than twice as often as men. Younger workers and people with menial jobs were also high in the boredom scales.

They found that those who had said they had high levels of boredom were 37% more likely to be dead by the end of the period than those who did not report being bored. The researchers said this may be due to people who regularly feel bored being more prone to being unhappy and feeling unmotivated and unfulfilled, and this can lead to them adopting unhealthy habits such as smoking, drugs, or drinking. These unhealthy habits would increase their risks of dying from conditions such as or heart disease. Shipley said the heart disease results provide enough evidence to say there is a link between the disease and boredom.

Martin Shipley, co-author of the paper, which is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said the study suggests people with menial jobs or who are bored at work should try to find interests outside work and avoid turning to drinking and smoking and other unhealthy habits to relieve the boredom.

Explore further: Blood test spots adult depression

More information: Bored to death? Annie Britton, Martin J Shipley, International Journal of Epidemiology, doi:10.1093/ije/dyp404

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User comments : 12

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michaelick
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
Is something like that really science? They just collected some data to clarify something that was already known by everybody. Of course being bored isn't fun is nothing new, and the same goes for being unhappy.
GillesV
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
Well a lot of things "everybody knows" have been found to be false... One should never take hunches or impressions about truth at face value. This is why we need scientists checking out those kind of things. Not all of us can work on curing cancer or AIDS ;)
TheBigYin
2.8 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
Luckily, bored people are probably too dull to notice being dead. I've usually found that people who are continually bored are usually the dullest people I've ever met - the old adage that a truly intelligent person can never be bored seems true.

Royale
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
wouldnt you have to admit though, that a truly intelligent person could be bored at work?
Caliban
3 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
I would have to qualify this as good news, as it creates turnover in the market for those much-coveted civil service jobs. Essentially a lifetime post, once attained- even if it ends up being foreshortened by the sheer boredom inherent in it.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
This sort of research, is what happens when some scientists get bored...
ubavontuba
3 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
Luckily, bored people are probably too dull to notice being dead. I've usually found that people who are continually bored are usually the dullest people I've ever met - the old adage that a truly intelligent person can never be bored seems true.

That's just silly. Apparently you've never been to a seminar on gifted students. Many eventually fail simply because boredom overwhelms them!
TheBigYin
3 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
Maybe the definition of 'intelligent' needs to be widened to include "buy a Wii you weirdo" to cater for Asperger-like gifted people.
CreepyD
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2010
For people who are bored, do something about it! The world is full of things to do, even if you have little money.
If you're that bored of your job, change it!
CarolinaScotsman
1.5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
Amazing how he links smoking and drinking to boredom with absolutely no evidence. Speculating that boredom leads to such behaviors just doesn't cut it in a serious study. If the linkage is bull, then the conclusions are unreliable.
Sinister181
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2010
Luckily, bored people are probably too dull to notice being dead. I've usually found that people who are continually bored are usually the dullest people I've ever met - the old adage that a truly intelligent person can never be bored seems true.


Please present us with the evidence behind your "findings".
Mr_Man
not rated yet Feb 15, 2010
When I was 14 or 15 I had a job working on an assembly line putting together sandwiches for vending machines. That's right - sandwich assembly line. We all would put on one component of the sandwiches and we would do a batch of a few hundred sandwiches.
I didn't often get stuck doing that particular job, but one day I did, and wouldn't you know it, about half way through I just passed right out. I have always attributed it to extreme boredom. I was SO bored. Physically I felt fine. It was so weird..