How bored people are
9 ways the most boring people get bored of you
I wonder if there is anyone who ever has Not concerned about being boring - maybe just people so full of themselves that it never occurs to them that they might be anything but fascinating to the people around them. Or maybe people who are really fascinating and just don't know.
What we Not I have to wonder what makes people boring. There is indeed systematic research on this - not much, but enough to provide the first answers.
In a series of studies, social psychologist Mark Leary and three colleagues found that we can bore other people through either What we have to say or How We say it: content and style are important. They also found that we are probably right to be angry about whether other people judge us as boring, because if we do, they will likely judge us harshly on many other traits as well.
In the first series of studies, the researchers asked people to describe things "that other people do to make them seem boring to you". Then they made a list of the 43 things that were mentioned most frequently and asked several hundred more people how boring they found these behaviors. In the end, they came up with nine categories of boring behavior.
Starting with the boring ones, they are:
- Nselfish egocentrism. The most boring way of acting was what the researchers called "being negative and complaining, talking about your own problems, showing disinterest in others".
- Banality. "Talking about trivial or superficial things, only being interested in one topic and repeating the same stories and jokes over and over again."
- Low affectivity. Show little enthusiasm, speak monotonously, have very little eye contact, and behave very unspeakably.
- Boredom. "Talk slowly, pause for a long time before answering, take a long time to make your points, and drag out conversations."
- Passivity. Little to say, not to have an opinion, to be too predictable, or too likely to try to adapt with what everyone else is saying.
- Self-employment. Talking anything about you.
- Heaviness. Coming over very seriously, rarely smiling.
- Boring congratulations. "I try to be funny or nice to impress other people."
- Deflection. Doing things that disrupt the conversation, are too easily distracted, and lead to too much small talk.
In the next set of studies, participants were videotaped while they were talking, then other people rated them as boring, and the researchers carefully coded the types of things they said in the conversations.
Here are a few examples of how they discovered that boring and interesting people acted differently:
- Interesting people reveal more of their thoughts and feelings than boring people. (This is different from just talking about yourself all the time.)
- Interesting people also bring more information, not just emotion, into the conversation than boring people.
- Boring people use more "empty words" and say more things that don't mean much - for example, "uh-huh" to agree with other people but not much else.
- Boring people also contribute less to the conversation overall than interesting people.
In the last study, Leary and his colleagues showed video clips of people who were rated by their peers as particularly boring or particularly interesting. Without telling the people viewing the tapes who was considered boring or interesting, the researchers simply asked them to rate the interviewees on many different attributes.
And wow, were the boring people nailed?
They were judged harsher than the interesting people in almost every way: they were less liked. They were thought to be less popular. They were judged to be less friendly and enthusiastic. It seemed more difficult to get to know. They have even been vilified on the basis of attributes that seem irrelevant to being boring or interesting: boring people were classified as less likely to be strong or safe, or likely to be leaders. In only two of the 18 attributes tested, the boring and interesting people were rated as equivalent: both were viewed as similar in terms of their reliability and competence.
However, there was one important way the boring people were judged more positively than the interesting: people thought they were smarter.
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