Boredom as a threat to agency and why Eric Fromm was wrong, by Prof. James Danckert, University of Waterloo

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Online Zoom meeting. Register here!


James Danckert is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo where he studies boredom, mental model updating and the consequences of stroke for visual attention and decision making. Boredom is a ubiquitous human experience that we often dismiss as trivial. But it is far from it, with boredom proneness associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, and increased drug and alcohol abuse, among many other ills. I will argue that, in part, boredom represents a threat to our sense of agency, the belief that we are the authors of our own lives. That threat is not unique to humans. So while Eric Fromm once claimed that “Man is the only animal that can be bored” I will argue that he was wrong and that boredom has a strong – and long – evolutionary past.

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