Stay open minded before your next meeting! Simply EXPECTING a presentation to be boring will make you feel more bored, study finds

  • Researchers recruited 121 students attending a psychology lecture
  • Before it started, the students rated how boring they expected it to be
  • After the lecture, they were again asked about their level of boredom
  • Participants who had predicted the lecture would be more boring tended to report feeling more bored afterwards

The next time a dreaded work meeting comes up, it’s worth telling yourself you’ll enjoy it.

That’s because, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, simply expecting a lecture or presentation to be boring will make you feel more bored, a study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong suggest we may pay less attention to a talk we think will be boring, and this lack of engagement ultimately makes us feel more bored. 

The next time a dreaded work meeting comes up, it’s worth telling yourself you’ll enjoy it. That’s because, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, simply expecting a lecture or presentation to be boring will make you feel more bored, a study suggests (stock image)

Being an optimist can extend your lifespan by more than four years 

There are real benefits to being optimistic, a new study finds, as it can extend your life span and significantly increase your likelihood of reaching age 90.

A Harvard University research team found that women who are more optimistic live an average of 54 percent longer – or more than four years of life – when compared to their more pessimistic peers.

Those who are the most optimistic also have a ten percent greater chance to reach 90 years of age than the most pessimistic women.

While this study did not determine an exact mechanism behind the shifts in lifespan, experts have long known there is a link between more positive thinking and a healthier life.

In the study, the team recruited 121 students attending a psychology lecture.

Five minutes before it started, the students rated how boring they expected it to be, and indicated how bored they were feeling right then.

After the lecture, they were again asked about their level of boredom.

The researchers found that participants who had predicted the lecture would be more boring tended to report feeling more bored afterwards.

This effect held even when they controlled for pre-lecture levels of boredom, so it wasn’t simply that people who were already bored continued to feel bored after the lecture.

In a separate study, the researchers asked participants to watch a video lecture on the theory of literature.

Some were told that other students had rated the video as the most boring lecture of the year, while others were told it had been voted the most interesting. 

Another group were not told either – just that they were going to watch a lecture.

Analysis revealed participants who had been told they were going to watch a boring lecture anticipated significantly more boredom than those in the neutral group, and reported higher levels of boredom after the lecture compared to the other two groups.

The study, titled ‘Whatever will bore, will bore’, was published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology.

In it, the authors, led by Katy Y Y Tam, wrote: ‘Boredom is often anticipated in daily life: people predict how interesting a movie is before buying a ticket, researchers forecast how boring a paper is before reading in full, and students anticipate how tedious a lecture is before it begins.

‘Together, these studies suggest that people who expect a lecture to be boring will get more bored.’

Going into a lecture or meeting optimistic that it will be interesting will not only save you boredom, but could also add years to your life. 

In June, a Harvard University research team found that women who are more optimistic live an average of 54 per cent longer – or more than four years of life – when compared to their more pessimistic peers.

Those who were the most optimistic also had a 10 per cent greater chance of reaching 90 years of age than the most pessimistic women. 

While the study did not determine an exact mechanism behind the shifts in lifespan, experts have long known there is a link between more positive thinking and a healthier life.

ARE YOU A DEFENSIVE PESSIMIST? TAKE THE QUIZ TO FIND OUT

Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by anxious people to help them manage their anxiety so they can work productively. 

They lower their expectations to help them prepare themselves for the worst, then they imagines all the bad things that might happen.

This can help anxious people focus away from their emotions so that they can plan and act effectively. 

By contrast, strategic optimism is typically used by people who aren’t anxious. People using this strategy set high expectations, and then actively avoid thinking much about what might happen. 

Both of these strategies do quite well, but both are also vulnerable to situations that don’t accommodate their strategies. 

If defensive pessimists try to raise their expectations, or avoid playing through a worse-case scenario, their anxiety increases and their performance suffers. 

And if strategic optimists set lower expectations or play through the worst possible outcomes, their anxiety increases and performance decreases. 

People can use different strategies in different situations, and not everyone is either a defensive pessimist or a strategic optimist.  

Source: Wellesley College 

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