Date of this Version


Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Details

Cynthia D. Fisher and Charles Hadrill (1994) Interruptions, Task Type and the Experience of Boredom

School of Business Discussion Paper ; No. 55, Sep. 1994

© Copyright Cynthia D. Fisher, Charles Hadrill and the School of Business, Bond University



This study investigated the effect of three levels of interruptions on self-reports of boredom for three tasks. The literature suggests that performers are bored when they experience attentional difficulties. One cause of attentional difficulties is interruptions from the environment. Interruptions which trigger continuing thoughts about concerns of the performer should be more distracting than interruptions which merely temporarily remove attention from the task. Thus, three levels of interruption were operationalized: none, irrelevant to the performer, and concern-related. In a between subjects design, these were crossed with three types of tasks varying in complexity and the amount of attention required for performance. We hypothesized that interruption and task condition would interact to affect boredom, such that interruptions would reduce boredom on simple, low attention tasks by providing additional stimulation, but increase boredom on simple tasks which require attention and on complex tasks. These effects were expected to be more pronounced for concern-related interruptions than for irrelevant interruptions. It was also hypothesized that extraversion would condition the reaction to interruption. Results showed that interruptions caused lower boredom on the simple low attention task but slightly increased boredom on the complex, high attention task, regardless of extraversion.