Saturday, June 4, 2011

Boredom Trade-Offs?

Aaron Haspel says that "an above-average capacity for boredom is optimal; a superior one is disastrous." Somewhat similarly, Mike Tully argues that becoming bored with a pursuit will inhibit artistic and athletic greatness.

Perhaps we can think of the capacity for boredom as a cognitive trait that pushes you towards the plasticity side of the plasticity vs specialization trade-off.

But really this idea seems a bit too vague. It's not clear whether one's capacity for boredom extends uniformly across all domains, and there are many other factors involved.

For example, you could argue that Ted Williams was able to specialize because he never grew bored of baseball, or you could argue that he specialized because he so quickly grew bored of everything else. With the former frame he has a below-average capacity for boredom, while with the latter it's above-average, but the end result is still the same.