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Boredom at Work: Proximal and Distal Consequences of Affective Work-Related Boredom

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Boredom is an emotion that occurs regularly at the workplace, with negative consequences for the employee and the organization. It is therefore important to understand why work-related boredom leads to such adverse consequences and what can be done to mitigate its occurrence and its negative consequences. In the present study we proposed a model suggesting that feelings of boredom at work induce immediate affect-based bored behaviors, and that such bored behavior leads to depressive complaints, distress, and counterproductive work behavior. We further posed that job crafting can mitigate work-related boredom and its negative outcomes. Results of a survey study among 189 employees showed that work-related boredom and bored behavior are empirically distinct, though related, constructs. Work-related boredom was positively related to depressive complaints, distress, and counterproductive work behavior, and these associations were fully mediated by bored behavior. Job crafting related negatively to work-related boredom, and attenuated the relationship of work-related boredom with bored behavior. Moreover, the indirect effects of work-related boredom through bored behavior on its outcomes were smaller the more employees engaged in job crafting. This research enhances insight into work-related boredom by showing that boredom as an affective state can be distinguished from its proximal behavioral consequences, and by providing a first onset to obtain insight in moderating and mediating mechanisms that may explain work-related boredom's consequences. It highlights the importance of employees' opportunities to work in jobs that do not cause work-related boredom to develop, and the role of job crafting as a potential intervention tool. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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Boredom at Work: Proximal and Distal Consequences of Affective
Work-Related Boredom
Madelon L. M. van Hooff
Radboud University Nijmegen Edwin A. J. van Hooft
University of Amsterdam
Boredom is an emotion that occurs regularly at the workplace, with negative consequences for the
employee and the organization. It is therefore important to understand why work-related boredom leads
to such adverse consequences and what can be done to mitigate its occurrence and its negative
consequences. In the present study we proposed a model suggesting that feelings of boredom at work
induce immediate affect-based bored behaviors, and that such bored behavior leads to depressive
complaints, distress, and counterproductive work behavior. We further posed that job crafting can
mitigate work-related boredom and its negative outcomes. Results of a survey study among 189
employees showed that work-related boredom and bored behavior are empirically distinct, though
related, constructs. Work-related boredom was positively related to depressive complaints, distress, and
counterproductive work behavior, and these associations were fully mediated by bored behavior. Job
crafting related negatively to work-related boredom, and attenuated the relationship of work-related
boredom with bored behavior. Moreover, the indirect effects of work-related boredom through bored
behavior on its outcomes were smaller the more employees engaged in job crafting. This research
enhances insight into work-related boredom by showing that boredom as an affective state can be
distinguished from its proximal behavioral consequences, and by providing a first onset to obtain insight
in moderating and mediating mechanisms that may explain work-related boredom’s consequences. It
highlights the importance of employees’ opportunities to work in jobs that do not cause work-related
boredom to develop, and the role of job crafting as a potential intervention tool.
Keywords: boredom, coping, counterproductive work behavior, job crafting, well-being
Feelings of boredom at work are common, with prevalence
estimates ranging from a quarter up to 87% of the employees
reporting that they feel bored at work at least some times (cf.
Fisher, 1993;Mann, 2007;Van der Heijden, Schepers, & Nijssen,
2012;Watt & Hargis, 2010). Research has demonstrated that
work-related boredom relates to a variety of negative outcomes
such as low effort and performance, job dissatisfaction, absentee-
ism, turnover intentions, counterproductive work behavior, and
work injuries (Bruursema, Kessler, & Spector, 2011;Frone, 1998;
Kass, Vodanovich, Stanny, & Taylor, 2001;Reijseger et al., 2013;
Spector et al., 2006). Given these negative effects, it is important
to understand why work-related boredom leads to such adverse
consequences and what can be done to mitigate these.
With the present study, we aim to extend previous research by
proposing and testing a model of work-related boredom outlining the
underlying psychological mediating and moderating mechanisms that
explain its negative effects. Our model is guided by Spector and Fox’s
(2002) emotion-centered model of voluntary work behavior, which
poses that emotions are central in explaining behavior at work. Emo-
tions develop as a consequence of appraisals based on the combina-
tion of employees’ personality and their work environment. Negative
emotions elicit coping behaviors that are aimed at reducing this
negativity. Spector and Fox (2002) specifically consider counterpro-
ductive work behavior (CWB) as a coping mechanism to deal with
negative emotions. In line with this idea, we assume that work-related
boredom—as a negative emotion—positively relates to CWB. Based
on affective events theory (Weiss & Cropranzano, 1996), we addi-
tionally argue that this association is mediated by specific affect-based
behaviors that we will label bored behavior. Furthermore, and based
on Spector and Fox’s (2002) proposition that behavior may also affect
employees’ emotions, we pose that bored behavior will result in
affectively laden outcomes, such as depressive complaints and dis-
tress. Finally, we examine job crafting as a type of functional coping
behavior, that may reduce work-related boredom directly, and may
affect the extent to which the experience of work-related boredom
translates into both proximal (i.e., bored behavior) and more distal
negative consequences. Figure 1 presents our overarching conceptual
model.
Work-Related Boredom
Work-related boredom is characterized by a lack of interest and
difficulty concentrating (Fisher, 1993), and can be defined as a
This article was published Online First June 2, 2014.
Madelon L. M. van Hooff, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud
University Nijmegen; Edwin A. J. van Hooft, Work and Organizational
Psychology, University of Amsterdam.
This work was supported by the FMG-UvA Research Priority Grant on
Affect Regulation. A previous version of this article was presented at the
2012 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Boston.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Madelon
L. M. van Hooff, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, PO
Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail: m.vanhooff@
psych.ru.nl
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Journal of Occupational Health Psychology © 2014 American Psychological Association
2014, Vol. 19, No. 3, 348–359 1076-8998/14/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036821
348
negative (i.e., unpleasant, dissatisfying) and often deactivating
(i.e., low arousal) activity-related emotion, implying that the ac-
tivity (e.g., the work task) acquires negative intrinsic value (Fisher,
1993;Mikulas & Vodanovich, 1993;Pekrun, Goetz, Daniels,
Stupnisky, & Perry, 2010). It is distinct from other negative
affective states as it makes people feel unchallenged, perceiving
the situation as meaningless (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2012). Research
on work-related boredom has started in the beginning of the
previous century (e.g., Münsterberg, 1913;Wyatt, Langdon, &
Stock, 1937), and has generally shown that causes of work-related
boredom relate to characteristics of both the individual and the
work situation (see Figure 1). Personality traits that have been
associated with the experience of boredom are, for example, ex-
traversion and boredom proneness. Regarding work characteris-
tics, it has been shown that too little work, monotony, repetition,
and underutilization of skills may induce work-related boredom
(Fisher, 1993;Fisher, in press;Loukidou, Loan-Clarke, & Daniels,
2009;Smith, 1981).
Previous research on boredom in work-related contexts mostly
focused on boredom proneness as indicator of boredom (see Vo-
danovich, 2003 for a review). Although it can be assumed that high
boredom prone individuals are more likely to experience boredom
in a specific situation than less boredom prone individuals, levels
of boredom proneness do not by definition give an indication of
actual levels of experienced boredom in a certain situation. Kass et
al. (2001) indeed report only a moderate correlation between
boredom proneness and state boredom. Thus, because work-
related boredom as a state and boredom proneness as a trait
represent different aspects of boredom, to obtain insight in work-
related boredom as a state, it should be measured as such. Al-
though some studies incorporated state measures of work-related
boredom, these scales tend to confound boredom with its potential
causes (e.g., work characteristics) or consequences (e.g., affective
responses; see Van der Heijden et al., 2012 for an overview of how
boredom is measured). For example, Lee’s (1986) scale asks
respondents to answer questions such as Does the job seem repet-
itive?, and Van der Heijden et al.’s (2012) measure includes items
such as Is there insufficient work to do? and Is there variety in your
work? These items refer to job characteristics such as repetitive-
ness, work load, and task variety, which may be considered causes
rather than indicators of work-related boredom. For example re-
petitiveness can, but does not necessarily have to, result in feelings
of work-related boredom, as not all employees will become bored
as a result of repetitive work (e.g., routinization may even promote
creativity; Ohly, Sonnentag, & Pluntke, 2006). Regarding potential
consequences, Lee’s (1986) measure, for example, includes the
item Do you become irritable on the job? This item refers to
feelings of irritability, which may be caused by boredom, but also
by other aspects of the work situation, such as stress resulting from
high work pressure or difficult interactions with colleagues.
Given this current situation regarding the measurement and
conceptualization of work-related boredom (i.e., often measured as
a trait instead of a state, confounding with causes and conse-
quences), we argue that it is first important to rely on a clear
definition of work-related boredom and to measure it without
confounding it with its possible causes and consequences. In this
paper we follow Fisher (1993) and Pekrun and colleagues (2010)
by defining work-related boredom as a negative, deactivating
emotional state experienced while performing work-related activ-
ities, and thus, by defining it as distinct from its possible causes
and consequences, or from its trait-like counterpart boredom
proneness.
Bored Behavior
Emotions are associated with certain immediate affect-based
behavioral tendencies (e.g., affective events theory; Weiss & Cro-
panzano, 1996), in such a way that they motivate behavior that will
reduce negative feelings and enhance positive feelings (Spector &
Fox, 2002). Likewise, we pose that the emotion of work-related
boredom evokes immediate boredom-based behaviors. As work-
related boredom is a negative emotional experience, such behav-
iors will likely be aimed at reducing this negativity, because, in
general, people are motivated to reduce negative affect (cf. Carver,
2004). An easy way to alleviate the feeling of boredom would be
to quit the boring activity (Berlyne, 1960), or to engage in other,
nonwork related activities as a coping response (Fisher, 1993;Van
der Heijden et al., 2012). Individuals may also try to change their
behavior while staying on the same (boring) task, for example, by
varying the pace or method of work (Runcie, 1980). Although this
Job Crafting
Job
demands
Well-being:
- Depression
-
Job
demands
- Structural job resources
- Social job resources
Environment
Affective experiences
at wor
k
:
Affect-based
b
ehavior at work:
- Distress
A
pp
raisal
Boredom Bored behavior
Counter
p
roductive
pp
Personality Relations not
id
p
work behavior
exam
i
ne
d
n curren
t
study
Figure 1. Overview of the theoretical model.
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349
BORED AT WORK
change in work behavior may sometimes increase productivity, it
is likely not functional in obtaining one’s work goals. We refer to
those immediate adverse behaviors as bored behavior, which we
define as “specific affect-based withdrawal behaviors of employ-
ees at work, which are not directly functional in obtaining one’s
work goals.” Examples of bored behavior include working slowly
and spending time on nonwork related activities. Some preliminary
empirical support for the need to differentiate between the
experience of work-related boredom and bored behavior can be
found in the work by Reijseger et al. (2013), who found a
specific behavioral factor in their initial work-related boredom
measure, and Van der Heijden et al. (2012) who found work-
related boredom to be different from, but positively related to
distracting behaviors. We therefore hypothesize that work-
related boredom is positively related to, but distinct from bored
behavior (Hypothesis 1).
Consequences of Boredom
Previous research has indicated that work-related boredom is
related to various adverse outcomes for employee well-being and
performance. We aimed to disentangle why these relations exist,
positing that bored behavior acts as a mediator explaining these
relations.
Distress and Depressive Complaints
Previous research suggested that boredom leads to increased
levels of distress and depression (Game, 2007;Sommers & Vo-
danovich, 2000;Wiesner, Windle & Freeman, 2005). However, it
remains unclear why boredom has such adverse consequences. To
increase our understanding of work-related boredom and its con-
sequences, it is vital to obtain insight in the underlying process that
explains these associations. Work-related boredom is a transient
affective state, and fades away when one is no longer performing
the boredom evoking activity. In contrast, distress and depressive
complaints are not domain specific and refer to employees’ gen-
erally experienced affective states. This leads to the question how
a transient affective state develops into more stable indicators of
decreased well-being.
Integrating affective events theory with Folkman and Lazarus’s
(1988) work, we pose that bored behavior functions as a mediator
in this relationship. Specifically, negative emotions such as work-
related boredom induce immediate, and often rather automatic
actions (e.g., bored behavior), aimed at coping with the negative
emotion. However, such immediate affect-based responses likely
are rather ineffective in coping with work-related boredom. First,
because boredom is associated with a sense of meaninglessness
(Van Tilburg & Igou, 2011,2012), bored behavior can be consid-
ered meaningless behavior, that is not functional in obtaining one’s
work goals. Second, bored behavior is not likely to reduce work-
related boredom, as it does not change the conditions that cause
this affective state to develop. Following Folkman and Lazarus
(1988), we assume that this ineffective coping process leads to an
unfavorable reappraisal of the environment, which evokes other
adverse emotional outcomes, such as distress and depressive com-
plaints. This can be further understood from the assumptions of
control theory (Carver, 2004;Carver & Scheier, 1990), which
poses that if individuals sense that—despite their efforts—goal
approach (i.e., finishing one’s work tasks, or reducing work-
related boredom) develops slower than expected, this will result in
negative affect. The tone of this negative affect will vary depend-
ing on the size of the discrepancy between actual and desired goal
progress. At first, inadequate or no progress will result in frustra-
tion, irritation, and anger (i.e., distress-related responses), but if
eventually it is sensed that the goal will not be attained, feelings of
depression and sadness are supposed to develop (Carver, 2004).
Related ideas can be found in the literature on stress and depres-
sion, in which lack of control and ‘learned helplessness’ have been
considered explanatory factors in the development of stress (Sells,
1970) and depression (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978).
Bored behavior, given that it is not functional in changing em-
ployees’ negatively evaluated situation or in attaining their work
goals, may evoke feelings of lack of control and helplessness and
consequently result in stress and depressive complaints. Therefore,
we pose that work-related boredom will relate positively to de-
pressive complaints and distress and these associations are medi-
ated by bored behavior (Hypothesis 2).
Counterproductive Work Behavior
Besides being associated with health-related consequences for
the employee, work-related boredom may also have negative ef-
fects for the organization. In this study, we focus on CWB, which
has been defined as behavior that harms or intends to harm
organizations and/or organizational stakeholders (Spector & Fox,
2005). Previous research reported a positive association between
work-related boredom and CWB (Bruursema et al., 2011;Spector
et al., 2006). This association can be understood from Spector and
Fox’s (2002) emotion-centered model of voluntary work behavior.
In this model, it is assumed that negative emotions produce action
tendencies aimed at reducing the negative emotional state. Engag-
ing in CWB may lower negative emotions because such behaviors
may help employees to passively and indirectly cope with the
emotion (e.g., by stealing company equipment), or to actively and
directly attack the agent of the situation (e.g., by intimidation and
threats).
In the present study we follow Spector and Fox (2002) in
proposing that work-related boredom positively relates to CWB,
but additionally argue that this relation (at least partly) develops as
a result of bored behavior that is taking increasingly severe forms.
Namely, boredom is a moderately negative emotion (e.g., Warr,
1990), which makes it unlikely to immediately result in rather
extreme types of behavior such as CWB. We therefore pose that
employees first exhibit less dysfunctional behaviors, which we
labeled bored behaviors. When these behaviors persist for a longer
period of time, the relatively ‘harmless’ bored behaviors can
gradually spiral into the more severe CWB’s, because employees
will become increasingly frustrated by their undesirable boring
situation (Carver, 2004). This negative affective experience may
eventually evoke CWB to cope with these more extreme negative
affective experiences. Thus, work-related boredom will relate pos-
itively to counterproductive work behavior, and this association is
mediated by bored behavior (Hypothesis 3).
The Role of Job Crafting
Given the potential negative consequences of work-related bore-
dom, it is important to prevent or decrease this negative affective
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350 VAN HOOFF AND VAN HOOFT
state and/or to reduce its negative consequences. As work charac-
teristics play a pivotal role in the development of work-related
boredom (cf. Fisher, 1993;Spector & Fox, 2002), changing unfa-
vorable work characteristics would be a valuable starting point.
We therefore focus on ‘job crafting’ as a coping behavior that
employees can engage in to change their work characteristics. We
propose that job crafting not only decreases work-related boredom,
but may also mitigate its associations with proximal (i.e., bored
behavior) and—indirectly—distal (i.e., depressive complaints, dis-
tress, and CWB) outcomes (see Figure 1).
Job crafting refers to “changes that employees make to balance
their job demands and job resources with their personal abilities
and needs” (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2012, p. 174). It refers to a
process in which employees change the tasks they do at work
and/or the people they interact with in their job, to improve their
person-job fit and work motivation (Tims et al., 2012). Unlike
other efforts to change jobs, job crafting entails changes that are
initiated by employees themselves instead of by their supervisors.
Although job crafting views employees as the actors in changing a
boring work-situation, it of course does not discharge employers
from their responsibility to provide employees with well-designed
jobs.
Tims et al. (2012) distinguish between job crafting activities that
aim to change job demands and activities that aim to change job
resources, describing four types of job crafting activities employ-
ees can perform. Increasing challenging job demands refers to
increasing those job demands that stimulate employees to develop
their knowledge and skills or to attain more difficult goals (e.g.,
starting new work projects). Decreasing hindering job demands
entails the lowering of job demands when employees feel that their
demands have become overwhelming (e.g., minimizing contact
with people whose expectations are unrealistic). Increasing struc-
tural job resources implies that employees take actions to gain
more responsibility and/or knowledge about the job (e.g., learning
new things at work). Increasing social resources refers to acts such
as obtaining satisfactory levels of interaction and asking for feed-
back and/or coaching (e.g., asking colleagues for advice). Job
crafting differs from job control, as job control is neither a neces-
sary nor a sufficient condition for crafting one’s job. That is, “even
in low-autonomy jobs, employees can create new domains for
mastery and shape facets of job tasks to take control over some
aspect of the work” (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001, p. 181). Also,
having high job control does not by definition imply that employ-
ees use this control to craft their jobs.
Recent work by Reijseger et al. (2013) applied the Job
Demands-Resources Model (JD-R; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004;
Bakker & Demerouti, 2007) to work-related boredom, concluding
that job demands and resources relate negatively to boredom.
Extending this work, we pose that employees who engage in job
crafting activities aimed at increasing challenging job demands,
increasing structural job resources, or increasing social resources
will experience less work-related boredom, because these activities
make job-related tasks and/or social interactions more interesting,
challenging, and satisfactory. Furthermore, Spector and Fox
(2002) argue that negative emotions at work such as boredom
develop as a function of an unfavorable work environment. Job
crafting is directed at improving the work environment and there-
fore likely reduces work-related boredom. The job crafting dimen-
sion ‘decreasing hindering job demands’ was not included in our
study, because this type of job crafting is unlikely to be used as a
coping mechanism to decrease work-related boredom. As job
crafting aims at obtaining an optimal person-job fit, and as work-
related boredom refers to an imbalance between person and job
attributable to lack of demands, decreasing demands even further
unlikely reduces boredom. Thus, we expect that the job crafting
dimensions of (a) increasing structural job resources, (b) increas-
ing social job resources, and (c) increasing challenging job de-
mands are negatively related to work-related boredom (Hypothe-
sis 4).
Furthermore, in case employees do experience work-related
boredom, those who engage in job crafting activities likely will be
displaying fewer bored behaviors than those who do not engage in
job crafting. Thus, we argue that the strength of the association
between work-related boredom and bored behavior depends on
employees’ job crafting activities as a coping mechanism. Specif-
ically, we pose that the association between work-related boredom
and bored behavior will be smaller for employees who are capable
of changing their work environment. That is, these employees will
be more likely to engage in other more interesting and fulfilling
and meaningful goal-directed tasks when feeling bored, rather than
resorting to relatively meaningless bored behaviors. Thus, the job
crafting dimensions (a) increasing structural job resources, (b)
increasing social job resources, and (c) increasing challenging job
demands moderate the work-related boredom - bored behavior
relationship, in the sense that these will attenuate this relationship
(Hypothesis 5).
So far, we have argued that work-related boredom has adverse
consequences, and that these associations are mediated by bored
behavior (Hypothesis 2–3). We also posed that job crafting mod-
erates the relation between work-related boredom and bored be-
havior (Hypothesis 5). Based on the rationales for these hypothe-
ses, it can be expected that the indirect association of work-related
boredom with depressive complaints, distress and CWB through
bored behavior is weaker if employees report high levels of job
crafting. Thus, the indirect effect of work-related boredom through
bored behavior on (a) depressive complaints, (b) distress, and (c)
CWB is smaller if employees report high levels of job crafting (i.e.,
increasing job demands, increasing structural job resources, in-
creasing social job resources) than if they report low levels of job
crafting (Hypothesis 6).
Method
Participants and Procedures
Data were collected in The Netherlands, by means of an
Internet-based survey among employees with various occupations
(e.g., teachers, secretaries, project managers, advisors, IT-
specialists). Participants were located via the social and profes-
sional networks of two research assistants involved in the study.
These networks consisted of personal and professional contacts of
the two research assistants. Employed people in these networks
received an e-mail with the request to participate, which contained
a link to a Web-based questionnaire. Data collection took place in
two waves: in a first questionnaire background information was
assessed (age, sex, occupation, boredom susceptibility) and in a
second questionnaire a month later, the core study variables were
assessed. Data of the two questionnaires were merged based on
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351
BORED AT WORK
participants’ e-mail addresses, which were deleted from the dataset
after the merge. Confidentiality of participants’ responses was
guaranteed. Of the 263 participants who completed the first ques-
tionnaire, 200 (76%) also completed the second questionnaire.
However, data of 11 of them were removed because they worked
fewer than 20 hours per week. Our final sample therefore included
189 employees, with 55% being female, a mean age of 39.61 years
(SD 12.73), and 84.7% with a bachelor/master degree. Partici-
pants worked on average 35.07 hours per week (SD 7.73).
Measures
Work-related boredom. We used Lee’s (1986) boredom
questionnaire to measure work-related boredom, but consistent
with the definition of boredom (Fisher, 1993;Mikulas & Vodanov-
ich, 1993;Pekrun et al., 2010) our scale was based on only those
items that tap the affective and cognitive aspects of work-related
boredom as an emotional state. Items that confounded boredom
and its potential causes (e.g., Is your work monotonous?)or
consequences (e.g., Do you become irritable on the job?) were
omitted. The items we used were translated into Dutch by the
authors of the present study. Translations were made based on the
original English items and construct definition, and were carefully
checked against the original items, keeping the construct definition
in mind. Items were additionally rephrased from questions into
statements, and were rated on a 5-point scale, ranging from 1
([almost]never)to5([almost]always), with higher scores indi-
cating higher levels of work-related boredom. The specific items
read as follows: I think my work is boring,There are long periods
or boredom on my job,My job goes by slowly,I often get bored
with my work, and The time seems to go by slowly when I’m at
work (␣⫽.91). Supporting the validity of our measure, it was
found to correlate substantially (r.88, p.01) with Reijseger
et al.’s (2013) Boredom Scale.
Bored behavior. Bored behavior was measured with six items
in Dutch that were developed by the authors based on our defini-
tion of bored behavior (i.e., “specific affect-based withdrawal
behaviors of employees at work, which are not directly functional
in obtaining one’s work goals”) and examples of bored behavior in
the literature (Fisher, 1993;Runcie, 1980;Van der Heijden et al.,
2012). Items were written to specifically refer to behaviors and
rated on a 5-point scale (1 [almost]never;5[almost]always)
with higher scores reflecting higher levels of bored behavior. The
items used are I work slowly,I take long breaks,I pretend to be
busy,I am daydreaming,I am involved in other, non–work-related
activities, and I am busy with activities to kill the time (␣⫽.81).
Depressive complaints. We used the 11-item short Dutch
version (Bouma, Ranchor, Sanderma, & van Sonderen, 1995)of
the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D;
Kohout, Berkman, Evans & Cornoni-Huntley, 1993;Radloff,
1977) to measure depressive complaints. Participants were asked
on a 4-point scale (1 [almost]never,4[almost]always)to
indicate how often they experienced certain feelings and behaviors
during the past week, for example, I felt sad and I felt lonely (␣⫽
.74).
Distress. Distress was measured with the Dutch translation
(de Beurs, Van Dyck, Marquenie, Lange, & Blonk, 2001)ofthe
stress subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS;
e.g., Crawford & Henry, 2003). Participants rated nine items on a
4-point scale with respect to the past week (1 [almost]never,
4[almost]always), for example, I found it difficult to relax and
I tended to overreact to situations (␣⫽.87).
Counterproductive work behavior. Counterproductive work
behavior was measured by the 10-item scale of Kelloway, Lough-
lin, Barling, and Nault (2002), which was based on the behaviors
identified by Robinson and Bennett (1995). Based on the original
English items and construct definition, items were translated in
Dutch by the authors of the present study. Participants indicated
for each of 10 statements on a 5-point scale how often they
performed a certain type of behavior in their current job (1
never,5very often), for example, Blamed your coworkers for
your mistakes and Taken company equipment or merchandise
(␣⫽.65).
Job crafting. The three dimensions of job crafting (i.e., in-
creasing structural job resources,increasing social job resources,
and increasing challenging job demands) were measured by the
Dutch scale developed by Tims et al. (2012). The dimensions were
measured with five items each, rated on a 5-point scale (1 never,
5very often), and higher scores indicate higher levels of job
crafting. Examples are I try to learn new things at work (Increas-
ing structural job resources;␣⫽.75) I ask colleagues for advice
(increasing social job resources ␣⫽.83) and When there is not
much to do at work, I see it as a chance to start new projects
(increasing challenging job demands ␣⫽.77).
Control variables. To reduce the risk of finding spurious
associations between the study variables, we included age (in
years), weekly working hours, sex (0 male,1female), and
boredom susceptibility as control variables in our questionnaires.
Boredom susceptibility was included to make sure that associa-
tions found in this study indeed reflected employees’ state-levels
of boredom, irrespective of their general tendency to be easily
bored and was measured with the 11-item boredom susceptibility
subscale of the Dutch version (Feij & Van Zuilen, 1984)of
Zuckerman, Buchsbaum, and Murphy’s (1980) sensation-seeking
scale. All items were rated on a 9-point scale (1 extremely
disagree,9extremely agree) and higher scores reflect higher
levels of boredom susceptibility. A sample item is I can’t stand
people who make a dull impression (␣⫽.76).
Results
Table 1 shows means, standard deviations, and correlations of
the study variables. Mean levels and standard deviations of work-
related boredom (M1.40, SD 0.55) and bored behavior (M
1.50, SD 0.49) were relatively low. Work-related boredom and
bored behavior were highly correlated (r.73, p.001). Re-
garding the control variables, boredom susceptibility was not sig-
nificantly related to work-related boredom (r.10, p.16), but
was positively related to bored behavior (r.17, p.02). Age
was negatively related to both work- related boredom (r⫽⫺.30,
p.01) and bored behavior (r⫽⫺.29, p.01) as well as to
distress (r⫽⫺.14, p.05). As sex and working hours were not
significantly related to work-related boredom and/or bored behav-
ior, these variables were not included in further analyses.
Both work-related boredom and bored behavior were negatively
related to increasing structural job resources (r⫽⫺.30, p.01,
and r⫽⫺.24, p.01, respectively) and increasing challenging
job demands (r⫽⫺.20, p.01, and r⫽⫺.19, p.05,
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352 VAN HOOFF AND VAN HOOFT
respectively), but not significantly related to increasing social job
resources (r⫽⫺.10, p.16, and r.01, p.85, respectively).
Finally, both work-related boredom and bored behavior were pos-
itively related to depressive complaints, distress, and counterpro-
ductive work behavior (work-related boredom: r.27, p.01,
r.19, p.01, and r.28, p.01, respectively; bored
behavior: r.32, p.01, r.28, p.01, and r.44 p.01,
respectively).
Although bored behavior and counterproductive work behavior
can be distinguished conceptually, we conducted a confirmatory
factor analysis to examine whether these could also be considered
distinct constructs empirically. Because of the skewness of the
distribution of the items of both bored behavior and counterpro-
ductive work behavior (i.e., most participants scored 1 or 2 on
these items), empirically these could not be considered continuous.
We therefore used the Mplus 5 statistical software package to
conduct a confirmatory factor analysis of categorical data. Results
showed that a two-factor solution, CFI .84, TLI .86, and
WRMR 1.30, fitted the data better than a one-factor solution,
CFI .79, TLI .83, and WRMR 1.42, indicating that bored
behavior and counterproductive work behavior are also distinct
empirically.
Work-Related Boredom and Bored Behavior
(Hypothesis 1)
To examine whether work-related boredom and bored behavior
are distinct though related constructs, we conducted a confirmatory
factor analysis and a regression analysis. Again, we used the
Mplus 5 statistical software package to conduct a confirmatory
factor analysis of categorical data, because of the skewness of the
distribution of the items of both work-related boredom and bored
behavior (i.e., most participants scored 1 or 2 on these items).
Because of the estimation processes used in this specific type of
factor analysis, chi-square difference tests cannot be computed
(Muthén & Muthén, 2010) and, thus, we used other fit indices:
Comparative Fit Index (CFI), Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), and
Weighted Root Mean Square Residual (WRMR). Values above .90
(CFI and TLI; Bentler & Bonett, 1980;Bollen, 1989) or below
0.90 (WRMR; Yu, 2002) are indicative of a good model fit. Two
models were compared. The first model, in which all items (i.e.,
the five items measuring work-related boredom and the six items
measuring bored behavior) were forced to load on one factor fitted
the data reasonably well, CFI .96, TLI .98, and WRMR
1.11. In the second model, two factors were specified, one depict-
ing work-related boredom and one depicting bored behavior. As
this model provided a better fit, CFI .97, TLI .99, and
WRMR 0.93, we concluded that work-related boredom and
bored behavior can be empirically distinguished.
Second, to examine the relationship between work-related bore-
dom and bored behavior, we conducted a hierarchical regression
analysis with bored behavior as dependent variable. In the first
step, age and boredom susceptibility were included and in the
second step work-related boredom was added. Results are pre-
sented in Table 2, which shows that, controlling for age and
boredom susceptibility, work-related boredom was positively re-
lated to bored behavior. Thus, in support of Hypothesis 1 (which
posed that work-related boredom and bored behavior are empiri-
cally distinct, but related constructs), results of the confirmatory
factor analysis and the regression analysis showed that work-
related boredom and bored behavior were empirically distinct but
positively related constructs.
Bored Behavior as a Mediator Between Work-Related
Boredom and Depressive Complaints, Distress, and
Counterproductive Work Behavior (Hypotheses 2–3)
To test whether bored behavior mediated the relationship of
work-related boredom with, respectively, depressive complaints,
distress (Hypothesis 2), and counterproductive work behavior (Hy-
pothesis 3), we employed the bootstrapping methodology as rec-
ommended by Preacher and Hayes (2008) and examined whether
there was a significant indirect effect of work-related boredom on
each of our outcome measures through bored behavior (controlling
for age and boredom susceptibility). Results of these analyses
using 10,000 bootstrapping samples showed that these indirect
effects of work-related boredom through bored behavior on our
outcome measures were positively and significant for distress
(bootstrapping estimate .15; 95% CI between .04 and .32),
depressive complaints (bootstrapping estimate .10; 95% CI
between .01 and .24), and CWB (bootstrapping estimate .14;
95% CI between .08 and .22). These analyses also revealed that,
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations of the Variables Under Study
Variable MSD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. Sex (0 male,1female)1
2. Age 39.61 12.73 .10 1
3. Working hours 35.07 7.73 .29
ⴱⴱ
.02 1
4. Boredom susceptibility 4.79 0.85 .08 .03 .01 1
5. Increasing structural job resources 3.66 0.66 .20
ⴱⴱ
.08 .15
.09 1
6. Increasing social job resources 2.50 0.72 .07 .14
.06 .01 .35
ⴱⴱ
1
7. Increasing challenging job demands 2.88 0.74 .14
.03 .25
ⴱⴱ
.12
.67
ⴱⴱ
.33
ⴱⴱ
1
8. Work-related boredom 1.40 0.55 .12
.30
ⴱⴱ
.10 .10 .30
ⴱⴱ
.10 .20
ⴱⴱ
1
9. Bored behavior 1.50 0.49 .14
.29
ⴱⴱ
.07 .17
.24
ⴱⴱ
.01 .19
ⴱⴱ
.73
ⴱⴱ
1
10. Depressive complaints 1.49 0.31 .05 .11 .08 .11 .13
.08 .07 .27
ⴱⴱ
.32
ⴱⴱ
1
11. Distress 1.44 0.42 .12 .14
.06 .08 .05 .06 .06 .19
ⴱⴱ
.28
ⴱⴱ
.70
ⴱⴱ
1
12. CWB 1.27 0.22 .07 .11 .13
.05 .14
.01 .09 .28
ⴱⴱ
.44
ⴱⴱ
.20
ⴱⴱ
.30
ⴱⴱ
Note. n 189.
p.10.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
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353
BORED AT WORK
when bored behavior was included in the analyses, there was no
direct significant association between work-related boredom and
the outcomes measures (Bs .05, p.41 for depressive com-
plaints, .03 p.67 for distress, and .04 p.35 for CWB),
indicating that bored behavior fully mediated the associations
between work-related boredom and each of the outcome measures.
Altogether, these results support Hypotheses 2 and 3, which pre-
dicted bored behavior to mediate the relationships between work-
related boredom and depressive complaints, distress, and CWB.
Job Crafting, Work-Related Boredom, and Bored
Behavior (Hypotheses 46)
Three hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to test if
each of the three types of job crafting relates negatively to work-
related boredom (Hypothesis 4). For each type of job crafting (i.e.,
increasing structural job resources, increasing social job resources,
and increasing challenging job demands) analyses were conducted
in two steps: In the first step age and boredom susceptibility were
included, and in the second step the job crafting dimension under
study was added to the model. As shown in Table 3, all three forms
of job crafting were negatively related to work-related boredom
(Hypothesis 4a, 4b, and 4c supported). Additionally, to obtain
insight in the unique effects of each of the job crafting types, we
conducted a regression analysis in which all three dimensions were
included simultaneously (controlling for age and boredom suscep-
tibility). In this analysis (R
2
.18, p.01), only the effect of
increasing structural job resources reached significance
(␤⫽⫺.27, p.01), whereas those of increasing challenging job
demands (␤⫽⫺.01, p.91) and increasing social job resources
(␤⫽⫺.04, p.55) did not. This suggests that increasing
structural job resources is the most powerful type of job crafting to
combat work-related boredom.
To examine Hypothesis 5, which stated that job crafting mod-
erates the relationship between work-related boredom and bored
behavior, three hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. In
each analysis, first the job crafting dimension under study was
added to the model that examined the relationship between work-
related boredom and bored behavior. In a second step the interac-
tion between work-related boredom and this job crafting dimen-
Table 2
Regression Analyses Examining the Relationships Between Work-Related Boredom and Bored Behavior and the Moderating Effects of
Job Crafting in the Relationship Between Work-Related Boredom and Bored Behavior
Bored behavior
R
2
R
2
Age .11
ⴱⴱ
.28
ⴱⴱ
Boredom susceptibility .16
Age .44
ⴱⴱ
.55
ⴱⴱ
.08
Boredom susceptibility .09
Work-related boredom .70
ⴱⴱ
Increasing structural
job resources Increasing social
job resources Increasing challenging
job demands
R
2
R
2
␤⌬R
2
R
2
␤⌬R
2
R
2
Age .00 .55
ⴱⴱ
.08 .01 .56
ⴱⴱ
.06 .00 .56
ⴱⴱ
.08
Boredom susceptibility .10 .09 .10
Work-related boredom .69
ⴱⴱ
.72
ⴱⴱ
.69
ⴱⴱ
Job crafting .03 .08 .06
Age .05
ⴱⴱ
.60
ⴱⴱ
.07 .01 .57
ⴱⴱ
.05 .04
ⴱⴱ
.60
ⴱⴱ
.05
Boredom susceptibility .06 .10
.08
Work-related boredom .66
ⴱⴱ
.75
ⴱⴱ
.68
ⴱⴱ
Job crafting .02 .07 .04
Work-related boredom Job crafting .24
ⴱⴱ
.10 .21
ⴱⴱ
Note. n 189.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
Table 3
Regression Analyses Examining the Relationships Between Job
Crafting and Work-Related Boredom
Work-related boredom
R
2
R
2
Age .10 .29
ⴱⴱ
Boredom susceptibility .09
Age .08
ⴱⴱ
.18 .27
ⴱⴱ
Boredom susceptibility .12
Increasing structural job resources .29
ⴱⴱ
Age .02
.12 .31
ⴱⴱ
Boredom susceptibility .09
Increasing social job resources .15
Age .04
ⴱⴱ
.14 .29
ⴱⴱ
Boredom susceptibility .12
Increasing challenging job demands .20
ⴱⴱ
Note. n 189.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
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354 VAN HOOFF AND VAN HOOFT
sion was included, using mean-centered scores in order to avoid
problems of multicollinearity (cf. Aiken & West, 1991). As pre-
sented in Table 2, there were significant Work-related boredom
Job crafting interactions for increasing structural job resources and
for increasing challenging job demands. Simple slope analyses of
the interaction effects (not presented in the table) showed that—in
line with our expectations—the association between work-related
boredom and bored behavior was smaller when levels of job
crafting were relatively high (i.e., one standard deviation above its
mean score: increasing structural job resources: ␤⫽.45, p.05;
increasing job challenging demands: ␤⫽.38, p.05) compared
with when levels of job crafting were relatively low (i.e., one
standard deviation below its mean score: increasing structural job
resources: ␤⫽.82, p.01; increasing job challenging demands:
␤⫽.91, p.01), which provides support for Hypothesis 5a and
5c. A graphical representation of these effects can be found in
Figures 2 and 3. No significant interaction was found for increas-
ing social job resources (Hypothesis 5b not supported).
Moderation of the Indirect Relationship Between
Work-Related Boredom and the Outcome Variables
(Hypothesis 6)
To examine whether the indirect relation of work-related bore-
dom through bored behavior with depressive complaints, distress,
and CWB is smaller for employees high on job crafting than for
those low on job crafting, we followed the guidelines of Hayes
(2013) for testing moderated mediation. We only focused on
increasing structural job resources and increasing challenging job
demands, though, as increasing social job resources did not mod-
erate the association between work-related boredom and bored
behavior. Thus, in total, we conducted six analyses (for each
combination of the two types of job crafting and three outcomes of
work-related boredom). Each analysis was conducted with 10,000
bootstrapping samples, and effects were computed for values of
the moderator variable one standard deviations above and below
the mean.
As displayed in Table 4 the indirect effects of work-related
boredom through bored behavior on distress (H6b) and CWB
(H6c) were smaller when employees report higher levels of in-
creasing challenging job demands than when they report lower
levels of this type of job crafting. A similar pattern of results was
observed for high versus low levels of increasing structural job
resources. The size of the indirect effect of work-related boredom
on depressive complaints (H6a) did not vary according to levels of
increasing challenging job demands or increasing structural job
resources.
These findings indicate that job crafting in terms of increasing
challenging job demands and structural job resources reduces the
associations of work-related boredom with distress and CWB,
because it reduces the extent to which employees resort to bored
behavior. Based on the results, Hypothesis 6b and 6c are partially
supported (for increasing structural job resources and challenging
job demands, and not for increasing social job resources). Hypoth-
esis 6a was not supported.
Discussion
Based on Spector and Fox’s (2002) emotion-focused model of
voluntary work behavior and affective events theory (Weiss &
Cropanzano, 1996), we aimed to uncover the mechanism by which
feelings of boredom at the workplace result in negative outcomes
such as depressive complaints, distress, and CWB. We found that
work-related boredom strongly relates to displays of bored behav-
ior, and that bored behavior explained why work-related boredom
is related to increased levels of depressive complaints, distress, and
Figure 2. Interaction between work-related boredom and increasing
structural job resources.
Figure 3. Interaction between work-related boredom and increasing chal-
lenging job demands.
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355
BORED AT WORK
CWB. Lastly, job crafting was found to alleviate the negative
effects of work-related boredom, such that increasing challenging
job demands and structural job resources weakens the extent to
which feelings of boredom translate in bored behavior, resulting in
less distress and CWB.
Major Findings and Theoretical Implications
Our results contribute to and extend prior theorizing and re-
search on boredom in three ways. First, many previous studies on
boredom at work did not include explicit measures of the actual
experience of work-related boredom, failed to differentiate be-
tween trait and state boredom, or confounded boredom with its
causes and/or consequences (see for exceptions Bruursema et al.,
2011;Van Tilburg & Igou, 2012;Reijseger et al., 2013). In the
present study we therefore explicitly operationalized work-related
boredom according to its definition as a negative, deactivating
emotional state experienced while performing work-related activ-
ities, and distinguished boredom from its conceptually related
antecedents and consequences. Furthermore, we advanced theory
on boredom by distinguishing work-related boredom as an affec-
tive experience from its immediate behavioral consequences, that
is, bored behavior. The distinction between the affective state of
boredom and bored behavior is valuable because bored behavior
was found to explain why feelings of boredom may have negative
consequences.
As a second contribution, we found that the relationships of
work-related boredom with distress, depressive complaints, and
CWB are fully mediated by bored behavior. These findings extend
previous theorizing and research on the consequences of boredom
(e.g., Fisher, 1993;Game, 2007;Sommers & Vodanovich, 2000;
Spector et al., 2006;Wiesner et al., 2005) by suggesting that it is
not so much the feeling of work-related boredom, but the extent to
which individuals display bored behaviors that explains boredom’s
adverse consequences. Our findings are in line with control theory
(e.g., Carver, 2004) on the basis of which we proposed that bored
behavior, because of its lack of goal-directedness and meaning will
eventually be associated with certain adverse affective and behav-
ioral consequences.
Third, our study adds to previous theory and research on bore-
dom by investigating the role that job crafting (Wrzesniewski &
Dutton, 2001) as a coping mechanism can play in decreasing both
the experience of boredom at work and its adverse consequences.
Focusing on the three dimensions of job crafting that consist of
activities aimed at making one’s job more interesting and mean-
ingful (Tims et al., 2012), we found especially increasing structural
job resources to relate negatively to work-related boredom. These
results extend previous research on predictors of work-related
boredom by suggesting that not only personality traits and job
characteristics may influence feelings of boredom, but also self-
regulatory behaviors such as job crafting. This is of theoretical
interest as it suggests that self-regulation theories and frameworks
(e.g., Baumeister, Zell, & Tice, 2007;Carver, 2004;Carver &
Scheier, 1990;Zimmerman, 2000) may be relevant in improving
our understanding of why employees feel bored and how they can
cope with those feelings. Future research could examine whether
the association between job crafting and work-related boredom is
mediated by job characteristics and appraisals, as suggested by
Spector and Fox’s (2002) theory (see Figure 1).
We also found that the work-related boredom–bored behavior
relation was significantly weaker for individuals high on the job
crafting dimensions increasing challenging job demands and in-
creasing structural resources. These findings further illustrate the
importance of distinguishing the affective state of boredom from
bored behavior, because they suggest that feelings of boredom at
work may not always translate into bored behavior. Moreover,
these two job crafting dimensions were found to reduce the indi-
rect relations of work-related boredom with distress and CWB (via
bored behavior). Taken together, our findings imply that job craft-
ing may diminish the occurrence of boredom at the workplace, and
when boredom does occur, job crafting may attenuate its negative
consequences.
Regarding the job crafting dimension of increasing social job
resources, less support was found. Hence, this type of job crafting
seems less effective when it comes to decreasing the immediate or
more distal consequences of work-related boredom. This can be
understood from the fact that increasing social job resources im-
plies increasing feedback, coaching, and social support. Although
such social interactions may decrease bored behavior if one expe-
riences work-related boredom (e.g., expecting feedback may keep
employees focused on their work task, despite it being boring), it
may also promote bored behavior (e.g., by increasing the oppor-
tunities for small talk with colleagues). Altogether, these effects
may cancel each other out, rendering the moderating effect of this
type of job crafting nonsignificant.
Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research
We think several issues regarding the present study need atten-
tion. First, our study exclusively relied on self-reports, which may
be considered to be a limitation. However, as suggested by Spector
(2006), “the popular position suggesting that common method
variance automatically affects variables measured with the same
method is a distortion and oversimplification of the true state of
affairs” (p. 221). In spite of this, it would be valuable if future
Table 4
Results of Moderated Mediation Analyses Examining Whether Job Crafting Moderates the Association Between Work-Related
Boredom and Distress, Depressive Complaints, and Counterproductive Work Behavior Through Work-Related Boredom
Increasing challenging job demands Increasing structural job resources
Low 95% CI High 95% CI Low 95% CI High 95% CI
Distress .19 .04 to .36 .11 .01 to .27 .19 .04 to .36 .10 .02 to .22
Depressive complaints .12 .00 to .27 .07 .01 to .20 .12 .00 to .27 .07 .00 to .16
CWB .17 .11 to .26 .11 .05 to .20 .17 .11 to .25 .10 .05 to .18
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356 VAN HOOFF AND VAN HOOFT
studies incorporated other measures such as supervisor- or peer-
ratings of behavior.
A second issue concerns the low mean levels and small standard
deviations of work-related boredom and bored behavior. These
low scores are probably largely attributable to the fact that em-
ployees in our samples actually experienced low levels of bore-
dom, or had limited opportunities to perform bored behaviors.
Also, social desirability might (partially) explain these results.
Employees may feel it to be ‘not done’ to admit to feeling and/or
behaving bored. In designing the study, however, we made an
effort to minimize this threat by emphasizing that the study was
conducted by the university and guaranteeing the confidentiality of
participants’ responses. Furthermore, it should be noted that re-
striction of range and social desirability would probably have
resulted in an underestimation (rather than an overestimation) of
the true associations between boredom and our other study vari-
ables. Nevertheless, it would be valuable if future studies tested the
generalizability of our findings in other samples with more vari-
ation in boredom levels.
Third, the distinction between work-related boredom and bored
behavior needs attention. Although confirmatory factor analysis
empirically supported the distinction, it should be noted that the
two factor model fitted only slightly better than the one factor
solution. The theoretical relevance of this distinction was none-
theless further supported by our finding that job crafting moder-
ated the association between work-related boredom and bored
behavior. Future research is needed, though, to shed more light on
the conditions under which work-related boredom does or does not
result in bored behavior.
Fourth, our study was based on correlational data. Therefore,
causality can only be assumed on theoretical rather than empirical
grounds. Future studies could start to provide insight in causality
by employing a longitudinal, full-panel design, preferably with a
substantial number of measurement waves (Taris & Kompier,
2003). Such a design would not only make it possible to obtain
insight in the hypothesized causal spiral that connects bored be-
havior and CWB, but would also allow for the examination of
reversed and reciprocal causal processes (e.g., between work-
related boredom and job crafting).
Fifth, in the present study we only focused on adverse conse-
quences of work-related boredom. However, it would also be
interesting to examine whether and how work-related boredom
may instigate positive outcomes. As there are some indications that
repetition may promote creative behavior (Ohly et al., 2006), and
that boredom may potentially lead to prosocial behaviors (Van
Tilburg & Igou, 2011), future research should investigate under
what conditions work-related boredom can result in positive orga-
nizational behaviors.
Sixth, our study only focused on the potential consequences of
work-related boredom and paid only limited attention to personal
and situational characteristics that may relate to the development
of work-related boredom. Although we included sex, age, working
hours, and boredom susceptibility, other characteristics may be
relevant, such as responsibility level, tenure, and personality (e.g.,
proactivity and extraversion). Future studies could pay more at-
tention to such characteristics and may also investigate work
characteristics that cause or prevent work-related boredom to de-
velop, for example based on the Job Demands-Resources model
(Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). It would further be interesting to
examine whether, for example, personality characteristics such as
boredom proneness moderate the associations between such work
characteristics and the development of work-related boredom.
Incorporating work characteristics would also make it possible to
obtain more insight in the role of job crafting, by examining which
actual changes in work characteristics result from employees’ job
crafting endeavors. Also, although on theoretical grounds we ex-
cluded the decreasing hindering job demands dimension, future
research should include this dimension to empirically test whether
it may be related to boredom.
Finally, the conceptual distinction between bored behavior and
CWB may need attention, as one might argue that they tap similar
constructs. We nonetheless think that there are both conceptual and
empirical arguments that oppose this interpretation. Conceptually,
the behaviors measured in the CWB scale are substantially more
negative than the behaviors addressed in the bored behavior scale.
CWB is defined as behavior that harms or intends to harm orga-
nizations and/or its stakeholders. Bored behavior, in contrast, does
not have this intention: it is aimed at alleviating feelings of
boredom instead. Furthermore, bored behavior is not necessarily
harmful. For example, if an employee does not have enough work
to do, and therefore takes long breaks, this would not negatively
affect the organization and/or its stakeholders. Empirically, the
two measures were only moderately correlated and our factor
analysis supported the distinction between bored behavior and
CWB, but it should be noted that the two-factor model did not
provide a very good fit, and fitted only slightly better than the one
factor solution.
Contribution and Practical Implications
Notwithstanding these limitations, we believe our study ad-
vanced knowledge on work-related boredom in conceptual, theo-
retical, and practical ways. From a conceptual point of view, we
advance extant research by highlighting the importance of defining
work-related boredom as an activity-related affective experience,
and measuring work-related boredom without confounding it with
its possible causes and consequences. Theoretically, we extend
previous theory on boredom by proposing a model of mediating
and moderating factors explaining the consequences of work-
related boredom. Specifically, our findings extend previous theo-
rizing on boredom by suggesting that feelings of boredom at the
workplace may lead to bored behaviors, which can spiral into more
detrimental consequences. Moreover, we found support for the
suggestion that the negative effects of boredom may be alleviated
by self-regulatory and coping behaviors such as job crafting.
From a practical point of view, our finding that even the rela-
tively low levels of work-related boredom observed in our sample
are related to adverse outcomes for employees (i.e., distress, de-
pressive complaints) as well as the organization (i.e., CWB) indi-
cates that it is important for employers to design jobs in such a way
that work-related boredom is prevented, for example by decreasing
repetitiveness and monotony (cf. Fisher, in press;Loukidou et al.,
2009) or by applying work-directed interventions such as job
enlargement and job enrichment. Additionally, our study suggests
that employees themselves may have the opportunity to partly
prevent the negative more distal outcomes of work-related bore-
dom by engaging in job crafting activities. It should be noted,
however, that this is not possible in every job. For example,
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357
BORED AT WORK
Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) indicate that job crafting is
hampered by factors such as high task interdependence or close
monitoring/supervision. If a job is suitable for job crafting, though,
employees should be motivated to engage in such behaviors by
raising their awareness about the possibilities of job crafting, for
example, by emphasizing the possibilities of acting proactively to
learn new things on the job, or to start new work projects. Fur-
thermore, it is important to pay attention to employees’ skills for
engaging in this type of behaviors (e.g., by providing workshops),
to make sure that they can use all opportunities to create a fulfilling
work environment.
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BORED AT WORK
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