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100 More Things #126: PEOPLE ARE EASILY BORED



People don’t like being bored. It’s boring to be bored. People prefer taking action because it provides a sense of control and reduces uncertainty.

One of the reasons that modern apps and social media are so popular is that they are easy to use in situations where you are waiting and would normally be bored, for example in airports waiting for a flight, on a train waiting to arrive at your destination, at the doctor’s office waiting for your appointment.

Maister (1985) and Eastwood (2012) discuss the research that shows that waiting is associated with a loss of control and a lack of information.

If waiting is combined with mild anxiety (is the plane going to be on time?) then it is even more likely that people will start using devices in order to get rid of boredom as well as provide a distraction from anxiety.


  • People do not like being bored and will interact with almost anything to avoid boredom.
  • If you want people to engage with your app, software, or product make it easy to use in small chunks while they are waiting.


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