Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

An Examination of Boredom as a State of High Arousal

Publication Date

Winter 4-2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Schoenfeld

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Boredom, a psychological state characterized by a lack of engagement with stimuli in the environment, occupies the majority of humanity’s daily life; however, boredom is currently poorly characterized. Recent evidence has shown that boredom-inducing tasks produce states of both high and low arousal – suggesting a multidimensional understanding of the psychological state. While boredom can emerge as a state of high arousal, it is unclear whether high-arousal boredom is behaviorally or psychologically distinct from other high-arousal states. Therefore, the present study aims to compare the behavioral and physiological characteristics (such as salivary cortisol levels, pulse rate, and skin conductance) of boredom and frustration – another high-arousal state. Psychological states were induced using Asteroid Impact, a game previously validated to produce states of boredom and frustration. Additionally, state-dependent behavior was assessed using a break point task. It was expected that students in an induced state of boredom would respond similarly physiologically to those exposed to frustrating stimuli but would sustain the breaking point task longer than the frustrated group. It is also suspected that latency to abandon the break-point task will negatively correlate with increased cortisol levels in the frustrated cohort and positively correlate with increased cortisol levels in the boredom cohort. Overall, we expect high-arousal boredom to be behaviorally distinct from frustration, despite similarities in physiological profile.

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