Monday, August 22, 2016

Boredom can lead to more extreme political views

Public Release: 7-Jul-2016
Boredom can lead to more extreme political views
King's College London

Boredom may be contributing to a widening of political views among voters, according to a new study by researchers from King's College London and the University of Limerick.

Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the findings are based on one experiment and two scientific surveys carried out in the Republic of Ireland.


The researchers found that liberals in the low boredom group were more moderate in their political orientation, compared to liberals in the high boredom group. A similar trend was found for conservatives, though it was not statistically significant as there were only 26 politically right-wing participants, which reduced the study's statistical power.

The study authors also conducted a survey of 859 people living in Ireland and found that people who were easily bored tended to endorse more extreme political views. Another survey of 300 people found that being prone to boredom was associated with searching for meaning in life, which was in turn associated with political extremism.

Dr Wijnand van Tilburg from King's College London said: 'Boredom puts people on edge - it makes them seek engagements that are challenging, exciting, and that offer a sense of purpose. Political ideologies can aid this existential quest.'

He added: 'Boredom motivates people to alter their situation and fosters the engagement in activities that seem more meaningful than those currently at hand.' The authors suggest that adopting a more extreme political ideology is one way that people re-inject meaningfulness into a boring situation.


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