Boredom is the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity. It’s an unpleasant state that involves difficulty focusing our attention, a sense that time is passing slowly, and feeling tired and lethargic or irritable and restless.

Boredom occurs when we can’t become engaged with our inner thoughts or the external world: we are disconnected. Given thatattention is the cognitive mechanism that controls the focus of our engagement, it could be said that boredom involves a failure of attention.

The explanations we give as to why we’re disconnected are also important. For example, when bored we might explain our predicament by blaming the external world (correctly or incorrectly) by saying things like: “This task is uninteresting”, “I’m being forced to do something I don’t want to do”, “There is nothing to do”, etc.

In everyday life we use the term “boredom” rather loosely to refer to a broad range of experiences. However, when researching boredom it’s important to define the concept precisely and to distinguish it from neighbouring, but distinct, experiences like “apathy”, “frustration”, and “depression”.