Feeling bored? That's just fascinating to researchers in the little-known field of boredom studies, the Wall Street Journal reports. They gather at events like the third annual Boring Conference in East London, and orate on subjects such as toast and out-of-date portable keyboards. Participants in their studies are asked to do things like trace circles or watch a yawn-inducing ESL video. One paper in the field even praises the video for being "monotonous, well below participants' skill level … highly understimulating."
It's no joke, either: Boredom can affect productivity and health, leading to substance abuse, overeating, depression, and even early death. So neurologists are analyzing the effects of boredom on neural networks, and experts are seeking the ultimate definition of the dull ("wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity" has been offered). One boredom factoid: Bored people tend to blame their environment rather than themselves. So experts advise us to link a boring activity to a higher purpose, to help keep us engaged. (Read more boredom stories.)