Effects of external and internal interruptions on boredom at work: Two studies

Cynthia D Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


It is proposed that attentional difficulties are central to the experience of boredom. Events which disrupt attention during task performance may contribute to feelings of boredom with the task. Two sources of disruption are explored: external interruptions from the physical environment, and internal interruptions in the form of non-task-related thoughts about current concerns. Study 1 found that external interruptions reduced boredom on a simple task which required little attention, but contrary to expectations, had no impact on reactions to a simple task that did require attention or on reactions to a complex task. Study 2 manipulated internal interruptions via a role-playing methodology, and found that observers attributed greater boredom and less satisfaction to performers who were more frequently interrupted by non-task-related thoughts while at work, especially when these thoughts were about non-urgent concerns. The concepts of internal and external interruptions may be quite useful in understanding variations in the day-to-day experience of work, and in the relationship of non-work to work spheres of life. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-522
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1998


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