Boredom is usually described as an unpleasant emotional state, experienced when an individual has nothing in particular to do and lacks interest in their surroundings. It is generally seen as the opposite of arousal and may occur when all immediate challenges are either incomprehensible, or conversely, too simple or monotonous. Additionally, boredom has been found to appear at times when all perceived needs have been fully met and overall motivation is low.
Relativity may also be a factor in boredom, as people who have just returned from a very exhilarating or stimulating environment may find their usual surrounding dull and boring in comparison. Veterans who return from combat, for example, may have difficulty at times adjusting to the calmer environment of civilian life. Inveterate thrill-seekers who engaged in highly exciting recreational activities (such as skydiving) or occupations (such as firefighting) may also start to find everyday activities exceptionally mundane and boring.
Boredom also seems to be related to the fatigue that stems from engaging in repetitive activity. A 1926 study in Britain demonstrated individual differences in the amount of boredom reported by workers assigned to perform the same repetitive and monotonous task. When we are bored, we generally experience a lack of interest, poor concentration and temporal distortion, as time seems to crawl along.
In 1986, Richard Farmer, from the Oregon Research Institute, and Norman D. Sundberg, from the University of Oregon, developed the Boredom Proneness Scale to measure how likely people are to feel bored. Subsequent research has shown that boredom proneness is related to depression, hopelessness, perceptions of increased effort, loneliness and poor motivation. Other studies have found it to be a significant factor in depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse (especially as professed by teenagers), pathological gambling, as well as eating disorders. Individuals who are easily bored also have reportedly more hostility, anger, less career success and poorer social skills than people not prone to boredom.