The stress of boredom and monotony: a consideration of the evidence

Psychosom Med. 1981 Apr;43(2):165-76. doi: 10.1097/00006842-198104000-00008.


Boredom and monotony are generally conceded to be negative factors that can have adverse effects on morale, performance, and quality of work. This article examines the evidence for yet another claimed effect of boredom and monotony, viz., that these factors are stressors, and that because they are stressors, they may produce effects even more detrimental than those mentioned above. Both laboratory and field studies are examined for evidence of increased neuroendocrine activity during exposure to conditions determined to be, or generally acknowledged to be, boring or monotonous. It is concluded that the available data offer no support for the belief that boredom or monotony per se produces the syndrome of stress. However, monotony coupled with a need to maintain high levels of alertness could represent a combination capable of eliciting considerable stress.

MeSH terms

  • 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids / urine
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Boredom*
  • Epinephrine / urine
  • Humans
  • Norepinephrine / urine
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • 17-Hydroxycorticosteroids
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine