In both cases, the researchers found that being bored led people to generate more ideas, as compared to a control group that was not bored. But after the innovative ideas test, which also measured the quality of someone’s creative submissions, they determined through personality tests that the ideas ranked as significantly more creative came from certain types of people: those who were very open to experience; oriented toward learning goals rather than performance goals; had a high need for cognition (meaning they enjoy complex tasks and deep thinking);’and who were likely to believe they themselves controlled their success, rather than luck or other forces.
“Boredom seems to prompt [these] individuals to explore alternative solutions to problems or challenge the status quo,” the authors conclude. Park and her co-authors—Beng-Chong Lim, a business professor at Nanyang Technological University Singapore, and Hui Si Oh, a research assistant at Singapore Management University—also assert that “without the innate ability to experience boredom, human beings would be less compelled to move out of their comfort zones and seek different, and sometimes better, circumstances. Lacking this incentive, they could be less adaptive to ever-changing survival demands.”