Does Being Bored Give Us More Creativity?

Thanksgiving Break has just ended which is typically a time for getting together with family on Thursday and shopping the malls with family or friends the next day. Many of us probably spent time with high school friends we have not seen in months or reunited with our beloved pets. Since it was a week long, there was plenty of free time to do whatever we wanted. This also might have lead to some of us feeling bored and trying to entertain ourselves in some manner. Are we aware when we are bored? How do we decide what to do when we are in a state of boredom? This reminded me of my high school Science teacher who used some tricks to help his daughters to be creative. He told us that he limited which toys his daughters could play with at a given time, because he wanted them to be creative with activities to do with those toys. He felt that if they could have any toy whenever they wanted, they would be less creative and enjoy the excessive resources of entertainment without using their brains. I wonder if this is true for all of us… does being bored force us to be more creative?


First, I needed to define what “boredom” really is scientifically. An article written by professors at York University did that and their findings can be summarized in a few main points. They found that boredom occurs when humans have an inability to focus on our surroundings. When this occurs, we are self-aware about our own boredom and we recognize that we cannot keep focus. So when we were saying that we were bored over break, it really means that our current surroundings are not holding our attention. I wonder if that causes us to find new surroundings or objects that will hold our attention since we know that we are not focusing on our current environment.  From this piece of research, we now have the knowledge that boredom happens, because of the environment that one is in.

My hypothesis is that low-stimulation environments cause people to be more creative. This would be my alternative hypothesis as well. The null hypothesis is that low-stimulation environments do not have an effect on people’s creativity.


Luckily, two studies were executed to test this idea. The first study required a group to read  literature that was considered boring then perform a creative task. The control group did not have a specific “boring” activity to do prior to doing creative work. One issue is if a participant is actually intrigued by the literature and does not become bored by it. This was improved for the second study which offered varying types of boring activities in addition to a control group. Still, with these differences the results were the same for both studies. The specific numbers from the studies are not given, but it is stated that the findings suggest that participating in boring activities leads to an increase in creativity.In addition to that, boring reading activities lead to more creativity than partaking in boring writing activities. An issue is that the first study had 80 participants and the latter had 90 so the sample sizes could have been higher. Some confounding variables could be variation in what activities people think are boring, different levels of creativity, etc. I think that it is also suspicious that the article is not more specific about the findings of the two studies. What we can take away from this is that boredom, which is typically seen negatively, could potentially have some benefits after all.


7 thoughts on “Does Being Bored Give Us More Creativity?

  1. Natalie Elizabeth Burns

    I liked this post because it was different and interesting to read. I really liked how you really incorporated what we learned in class into your post. You found the cofounding variables and even faults in the study. I think this was a great part of your post because it showed how you understood the material fully. I found another study that seemed to be like yours

  2. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    This topic is really interesting to me. I know many people who tend to do nothing when they are bored, but i felt like I was always the opposite. Whenever I’m bored I always try to find something to do to keep me busy. This is usually when I become the most productive. I found this article ( that discusses why boredom increases a person’s productivity.

  3. Charles Hart

    Very interesting topic. I think one thing that you could possibly look into can be bias. This seems like the ideal study for bias to occur. What if, in both studies, the subject knew that the scientists were testing for boredom and so they tried to refrain from being bored. It’s an interesting question to ponder and could certainly have effected the results. I also think randomization could be a problem in these studies. The article does not say anything about randomization. Assuming there was no randomization, the risk of chance being involved skyrockets. Not only would there be less than 100 people, which is a small number to base a hypothesis on, but those people not being randomized makes me question chance not being a large factor in the results. I look forward to seeing more studies on this topic in the future.

  4. Mairead Donnard

    This was so interesting to read! I have always found that I typically do my best thinking when I am bored. The time gives you a moment to reflect on your life and figure out the best ways to approach certain situations. Therefore, it did not surprise me that the experimental group produced more creative material than the control group in the studies that you cited. Along with boosting creativity, boredom can also relieve stress. Being a student, we are always placed under an immense amount of stress. When we become bored though, we completely unplug from technology and have time to reflect. This unplug from technology can also prove to be beneficial for our overall mental health being that technology is known to have a negative impact on the young mind causing stress and depression among impressionable young adults. Here is an article you might finder interesting:
    It discusses the benefits of being bored, including creativity and unplugging from technology.

  5. Mackenzie French

    I was interested in your article because I tend to feel that when I am busier I am actually more productive and even more creative. When I am bored I don’t have much motivation to come up with anything and tend to just sit in pity doing nothing. But when I am in a time crunch, my mind is forced to come up with something. When I tell myself I have to do something, I do it. And to my surprise I sometimes do better when I have more things on my plate. For example if I have lots of assignments and stuff on my TO-DO list then I make a schedule for myself, making my life more productive. In essence, when I think in the moment and think spontaneously I tend to be more creative rather than sitting thinking about an idea for a long period of time, because I end up thinking too hard.

  6. Kayla Neiland

    I truly believe in this title alone. I find myself being bored often like on my long car ride back to state or class. When I’m bored my mind wanders to all kinds of places and I think of things that I would not be able to if I was was focused on something else. This article states that there are benefits to boredom.
    But… creativity is good therefore boredom is good, so then why do we have the term “boredom” This article debates both sides

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