Hungry, or Just Bored?

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The image of people staring blankly into space, apathetic and listless, may be more Hollywood than Main Street. Almost three-fifths of Americans say they are rarely (62.9 percent) "bored out of their mind;" (16.2 percent) say they never are. At the same time, alarmingly, 21 percent of Americans say they are regularly filled with ennui.

The most common response to boredom is to "switch TV channels.' But 44.4 percent of people say when they are bored they often eat, and 27.3 percent say they get in the car for a drive. Just 8.9 percent admit they pour themselves a drink or go to a bar. More than a third-35.6 percent-say they've feigned illness or another excuse to get out of a boring situation. Some 19.4 percent have cancelled the subscription of a magazine that no longer sparked their interest and 14 percent have taken a trip or vacation. Some 10.8 percent say they've gotten a haircut because they were bored.

A third (33.7 percent) say they have ended a relationship because it was boring, while 7.6 percent say boredom has prompted them to cheat on their partner. Some 3.8 percent admit it has instigated their seeking counseling while another 3.8 percent say it has caused all these scenarios.

One place where boredom is likely is a long car or plane ride. The most common defense is listening to the radio (58.4 percent). Some 11.7 percent admit they often daydream there, while 9.2 percent sing and 5.1 percent resort to books on tape. Slightly under 1 percent admit to stopping repeatedly at rest stations while 14.6 percent have other strategies up their sleeves.

To relieve tedium at a long-winded religious service, two fifths of Americans avoid going. One out of five admits to daydreaming, while 16.8 percent say they force themselves to pay attention. Some 6.7 percent challenge themselves by trying to work through problems while 9 percent say they have different strategies. No one admits to napping as one way to cope.

Americans don't embrace potentially boring situations, but they don't run from them, either. Just 7.9 percent avoid watching a movie more than once to be sure they aren't bored, while 63.8 percent like repeat viewings, seeking to get something out of the experience each time. Some 28.3 percent admit it's not their first choice but they "go along."

For most people (67.9 percent) there is no time of the week that is most associated with boredom, but 12.6 percent of Americans say that any time on Sunday is likely to be the least interesting part of the week. One in ten (9.8 percent) say afternoons during the week are most boring,while 6.7 percent think nighttime during the week is most dull. Just 1.6 percent think any time Saturday is boring and 1.9 percent find the mornings irksome.

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