Helpfully, the study also gave Van Tilburg insight into how an “uninteresting” person might go about changing that perception.
If you want people to think you’re less boring, frame how they see you, he suggests. It’s because there are a lot of inconsistencies in the stereotypes that people consider boring, he said.
For example, if Van Tilburg were to describe himself as a scientist, he would fall into the branch of the most exciting professions, according to the findings. However, if he said that 90% of his day was spent analyzing data, the impression would be the opposite.
“So that way, by framing it using the right terms, it might be easier to prevent that negative stereotype from being enforced,” he told Insider.
By this logic, you don’t sit around watching movies, you’re a movie buff; you don’t live in a boring suburb, but in a rising community.
“It’s a bit more strategic,” Van Tilburg said.
Boredom is both positive and negative it really depends on the context
Van Tilburg is a self-proclaimed “boredom expert”, who has devoted the last 15 years of his career to research. This first piqued his interest as a PhD. student looking for a new way to research the psychology behind the meaning of life.
Van Tilburg generally agrees with the definition of boredom as a “negative feeling that there is something to do, but you can’t find a satisfying activity”.
It’s slightly unpleasant, he added, but trying to see it as good or bad isn’t really the right approach because it really depends on the context.
On the one hand, boredom is a “functional experience” that drives people to explore new things and, as one study suggests, can encourage divergent thinking, he said.
On the other hand, it can be a “double-edged sword” that encourages risk-taking and can cause us to leave our jobs without thinking about the consequences, for example.
“There’s nothing wrong with being bored, in principle, but it has a whole range of different impacts on people’s lives,” Van Tilburg told Insider. These can be negative, as his research revealed.
Participants not only perceived annoying people as less competent, they were more likely to want to avoid them.
Any evidence that it has a direct impact on someone’s career is anecdotal, but Van Tilburg said he wouldn’t be surprised if someone who fit the boring stereotype wasn’t affected in some way. ‘another one.
“It’s not just that people make quick judgments when you meet someone for the first time. You don’t even get the chance to potentially meet someone, do you?” he said. This is potentially problematic in the workplace as it can be difficult to change and challenge any stereotypes that have formed, he added.
Tilburg has a resounding lesson that everyone should take away from the study: try harder to meet people you don’t know.
“The obvious thing is that people should always challenge their stereotypes,” he said.