Bench, Shane W (2014-04). The Role of Boredom in the Pursuit of Negative Experience. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Motivational hedonism holds that the ultimate goal of behavior is to maximize pleasure and avoid pain. This investigation was meant to explore if a negative experience would be chosen over a more positive experience, and what might motivate this behavior. It was predicted that boredom would motivate a desire for novelty, resulting in anti-hedonic behaviors. Participants viewed a series of images (to induce boredom) and then chose the second set of images they would view, with one of the options being hedonically negative. Participants that reported a higher degree of boredom were more likely to choose the negative image set. Manipulated boredom was found to indirectly predict choice of image set through the effect on desire for novelty. Those placed in a high state of boredom, reported a stronger desire for novelty, which resulted in a higher probability of selecting the negative image set. When given options to choose a better or worse affective state from current, participants that experienced higher levels of state boredom, were more likely to choose a worse experience. In the final study, preference for an anti-hedonic option was found to play an important role in choice, such that, participants that liked the negative image set were less likely to make a choice motivated by a desire for novelty. These findings reveal that people will make anti-hedonic choices when their current state evokes boredom.

publication date

  • May 2014