Who is the most boring person in the world?
University of Essex researchers claim to have found what type of people most induce the doldrums
Are you a data entry worker who happens to be religious, likes watching TV and lives in a town?
Then you might just be the most boring type of person in the world – at least, that’s according to researchers from the University of Essex in a peer-reviewed study published in the March issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
To deduce what kind of people induce boredom, researchers asked nearly 500 volunteers to rate the most typically mind-numbing traits, jobs and hobbies for the study titled “Boring People: Stereotype Characteristics, Interpersonal Attributions, and Social Reactions.”
Occupation-wise, respondents ranked data analysis, accounting, tax/insurance, cleaning and banking among the most boring jobs. Meanwhile, jobs in the performing arts, science, health, teaching and journalism were viewed as the most exciting lines of work.
Respondents listed the most boring hobbies as sleeping, religion, watching TV, observing animals, and mathematics.
Boring people were also perceived to shun large settlements to live in small cities and towns.
Led by the Department of Psychology’s Dr Wijnand Van Tilburg, the research revealed that stereotypically boring people are generally disliked and avoided due to preconceptions.
Launching the study to explore the stigma of perceived boredom, Van Tilburg said “the irony is studying boredom is actually very interesting and has many real-life impacts.”
“Perceptions can change but people may not take time to speak to those with ‘boring’ jobs and hobbies, instead choosing to avoid them. They don’t get a chance to prove people wrong and break these negative stereotypes.”
When asked about what makes a person seem monotonous, volunteers listed characteristics including a lack of interests, a nonexistent sense of humour, having no opinions, and a tendency to complain.
“The more typical the features of stereotypical boringness described a person, the more the person was perceived as boring,” the research team reported.
The study also showed that being perceived as boring likely conveys low competence and low interpersonal warmth. They are also believed to be at greater risk of harm, addiction and mental health issues.
Nevertheless, despite their negative perception, society needs accountants and bankers to perform their roles.
“It was interesting to me to see the study showed that boring people were not seen as competent,’ said Van Tilburg.
“The truth of the matter is people like bankers and accountants are highly capable and have power in society – perhaps we should try not to upset them and stereotype them as boring!”.