Rethinking occupational deprivation and boredom

Marion Martin, Gaynor Sadlo, Graham Stew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Boredom is associated with a range of problematic feelings and behaviour, and may be on the increase. There is a popular assumption supported by occupational science which suggests that the experience arises from a lack of occupation, however, it is not clear why boredom should still exist when most people in affluent societies have more opportunity for engagement than ever before. This paper explores boredom in literature from the arts as well as from research which indicates that boredom may be a malady of those who have plenty as well as individuals who are deprived of resources. Boredom seems to be associated with poor attentional capacity combined with negative attitudes, resulting in an inability to become involved with any occupation. The usual way of dealing with boredom is to provide more stimulating activities. The author suggests that a more effective way would be to encourage the development of mindful activity. Mindfulness is a particular way of focusing attention, with openness and acceptance. It is recommended that boredom and its relationship to mindfulness may be an important area of research for occupational scientists, as a decrease in boredom could have wider benefits for society and the environment. Unanswered questions relating to boredom concern how it arises, and what can be done to overcome this problematic state of mind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Boredom, Mindfulness, Inattention, Well-being


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