Pandemic Boredom : Little Evidence That Lockdown-Related Boredom Affects Risky Public Health Behaviors Across 116 Countries

Erin C. WESTGATE*, Nicholas R. BUTTRICK, Yijun LIN, Gaelle EL HELOU, Maximilian AGOSTINI, Jocelyn J. BÉLANGER, Ben GÜTZKOW, Jannis KREIENKAMP, Georgios ABAKOUMKIN, Jamilah Hanum ABDUL KHAIYOM, Vjollca AHMEDI, Handan AKKAS, Carlos A. ALMENARA, Mohsin ATTA, Sabahat Cigdem BAGCI, Sima BASEL, Edona Berisha KIDA, Allan B.I. BERNARDO, Phatthanakit CHOBTHAMKIT, Hoon Seok CHOIMioara CRISTEA, Sára CSABA, Kaja DAMNJANOVIĆ, Ivan DANYLIUK, Arobindu DASH, Daniela DI SANTO, Karen M. DOUGLAS, Violeta ENEA, Daiane Gracieli FALLER, Gavan FITZSIMONS, Alexandra GHEORGHIU, Ángel GÓMEZ, Ali HAMAIDIA, Qing HAN, Mai HELMY, Joevarian HUDIYANA, Bertus F. JERONIMUS, Ding Yu JIANG, Veljko JOVANOVIĆ, Željka KAMENOV, Anna KENDE, Shian Ling KENG, Tra Thi Thanh KIEU, Yasin KOC, Kamila KOVYAZINA, Inna KOZYTSKA, Joshua KRAUSE, Arie W. KRUGLANSKI, Anton KURAPOV), Maja KUTLACA, Nóra Anna LANTOS, Edward P. Jr LEMAY, Cokorda Bagus Java LESMANA, Winnifred R. LOUIS, Adrian LUEDERS, Marta MAJ, Najma Iqbal MALIK, Anton MARTINEZ, Kira O. McCABE, Jasmina MEHULIĆ, Mirra Noor MILLIA, Idris MOHAMMED, Erica MOLINARIO, Manuel MOYANO, Hayat MUHAMMAD, Silvana MULA, Hamdi MULUK, Solomiia MYRONIUK, Reza NAJAFI, Claudia F. NISA, Boglárka NYÚL, Paul Anna O'KEEFE, Jose Javier Olivas OSUNA, Evgeny N. OSIN, Joonha PARK, Gennaro PICA, Antonio PIERRO, Jonas REES, Anne Margit REITSEMA, Elena RESTA, Marika RULLO, Michelle K. RYAN, Adil SAMEKIN, Pekka SANTTILA, Edyta M. SASIN, Michael Vicente STANTON, Wolfgang STROEBE, Robbie M. SUTTON, Eleftheria TSELIOU, Akira UTSUGI, Jolien Anne VAN BREEN, Caspar J. VAN LISSA, Kees VAN VEEN, Michelle R. VANDELLEN, Alexandra VAZQUEZ, Robin WOLLAST, Victoria Wai Lan YEUNG, Somayeh ZAND, Iris Lav ŽEŽELJ, Bang ZHENG, Andreas ZICK, Claudia ZÚÑIGA, N. Pontus LEANDER

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Some public officials have expressed concern that policies mandating collective public health behaviors (e.g., national/regional “lockdown”) may result in behavioral fatigue that ultimately renders such policies ineffective. Boredom, specifically, has been singled out as one potential risk factor for noncompliance. We examined whether there was empirical evidence to support this concern during the COVID-19 pandemic in a large cross-national sample of 63,336 community respondents from 116 countries. Although boredom was higher in countries with more COVID-19 cases and in countries that instituted more stringent lockdowns, such boredom did not predict longitudinal within-person decreases in social distancing behavior (or vice versa; n = 8,031) in early spring and summer of 2020. Overall, we found little evidence that changes in boredom predict individual public health behaviors (handwashing, staying home, self-quarantining, and avoiding crowds) over time, or that such behaviors had any reliable longitudinal effects on boredom itself. In summary, contrary to concerns, we found little evidence that boredom posed a public health risk during lockdown and quarantine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2370-2384
Number of pages15
JournalEmotion
Volume23
Issue number8
Early online date13 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emotion. All rights reserved

This research received support from the New York University Abu Dhabi (VCDSF/75-71015), the University of Groningen (Sustainable Society & Ubbo Emmius Fund), and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (COV20/00086). The study was approved by the Ethics Committees of the University of Groningen (PSY-1920-S-0390) and New York University Abu Dhabi (HRPP-2020-42). Supplementary data and analyses can be found at: https://osf.io/h59dt/.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Simpson’s paradox
  • emotion
  • public health
  • self-regulation

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