Questions for “Boredom may pose a public health threat in the social distancing era”

woman looking bored at a laptop

Two recent studies suggest that people prone to boredom are more likely than others to break social-distancing rules. Accepting the idea that feeling bored is normal could help people cope, say researchers.

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To accompany “Boredom may pose a public health threat in the social distancing era


Before Reading:

1.  How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the way you work, socialize and generally make-do? Has this been an unusually stressful time, and if so, in what ways?

2.  What is boredom and has the pandemic increased or decreased how much boredom you experienced in 2020? What aspects of changes to your life may account for this?

During Reading:

1.  According to the story, what is “pandemic fatigue”? List at least four potential symptoms of it.

2.  What are the two paths to boredom identified by Erin Westgate? What are some sources of stress mentioned in the article as being linked to the pandemic? How might these affect how well we think, according to Westgate’s team?

3.  Samantha Heintzelman says the pandemic has stolen what from our lives?

4.  What does Westgate charge can make boredom “doubly bad”?

5.  James Danckert and his team conducted a study in which they linked being prone to boredom to what disturbing effect in people? How big an effect was boredom on this changed behavior?

6.  What data were given in the story as evidence that some people fine pain preferable to boredom?

7.  Wanja Wolff suggests that people can lower the need for self-control by doing what?

After Reading:

1.  Think about how social distancing and other new behaviors introduced by the coronavirus pandemic have affected your behavior and satisfaction with life. Do your changes reflect boredom or something else? Explain your assessment.

2.  Some newly evolved coronavirus variants may boost the rate of infections or reinfections. To avoid the risk of COVID-19 under such conditions, what aspects of hygiene and social distancing are you likely to continue in the coming months? Based on what you read, what changes in your routines might you take to make these pandemic accommodations easier to live with?