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Rebel, rebel: Covid-induced boredom encourages rule-breaking

Boredom plunges you into a dilemma: You want to do something, but don’t like any of the permitted options. The risks of the situation are exacerbated by the health crisis, because boredom prompts you to take more risks.

We’re not all equal in the face of boredom during the Covid crisis: The propensity for boredom decreases with age and affects men more than women. It often goes hand in hand with low levels of self-control, a tendency to be impulsive, little respect for rules, and risky behavior. You feel more bored when you’re forbidden to do certain activities, and one in four of you defy a ban when you’re bored. And that’s not really compatible with following the health rules currently in place. 

In fact, for some people the boredom generated by Covid restrictions turns out to be more powerful than the concern for the collective, pushing them to ignore the rules of isolation and protective measures. People who get bored easily pose a greater threat to the group than people who know how to keep themselves busy. 

To alleviate this feeling of boredom researchers recommend looking at the options open to you rather than at what you are not allowed to do – and to think about improving respect for the rules and reducing the demands of self-control rather than just imposing constraints. 

To go further

« Boredom in the Covid-19 pandemic»

in Personality and Individual Differences n°171, James Boylan and al. (Science Direct, 2021). 

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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.