Experienced entropy drives choice behavior in a boring decision-making task

Johannes P.H. Seiler*, Ohad Dan, Oliver Tüscher, Yonatan Loewenstein, Simon Rumpel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Boredom has been defined as an aversive mental state that is induced by the disability to engage in satisfying activity, most often experienced in monotonous environments. However, current understanding of the situational factors inducing boredom and driving subsequent behavior remains incomplete. Here, we introduce a two-alternative forced-choice task coupled with sensory stimulation of different degrees of monotony. We find that human subjects develop a bias in decision-making, avoiding the more monotonous alternative that is correlated with self-reported state boredom. This finding was replicated in independent laboratory and online experiments and proved to be specific for the induction of boredom rather than curiosity. Furthermore, using theoretical modeling we show that the entropy in the sequence of individually experienced stimuli, a measure of information gain, serves as a major determinant to predict choice behavior in the task. With this, we underline the relevance of boredom for driving behavioral responses that ensure a lasting stream of information to the brain.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3162
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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