Christopher Seeman

PhD Candidate

Expected Completion Date: Spring 2014

Dissertation title: Boredom and Reinforcement Expectancy with Autonomic Correlates

Dissertation Committee Members: McWelling Todman (Chair), Marcel Kinsbourne, Wendy D’Andrea, Sanjay Ruparelia (Dean’s Rep)

Areas of expertise: Affective Neuroscience, Personality Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Individual Differences, Statistics, Quantitative Data Analysis

Profile: In the field of non-clinical psychology, my current research focuses on the relationships between boredom and dissociation. Through my research, I hope to better characterize the state of boredom. My research utilizes personality measures, cognitive tasks and physiological measures. Personality measures are utilized as moderating factors and trait measures are utilized as mediating factors to better understand and model individual differences in the response to stimuli that induce boredom and dissociation. My experimental designs incorporate technological solutions with the aim of extending the amount of information that can be collected from any platform, as well as optimizing research costs.  My primary research interests are boredom, dissociation, and affective neuroscience. More generally, I am interested in how individual differences influence individuals’ reaction to stimuli. I take pride in my ability to unravel complex problems in both research design and statistical modeling. I welcome collaborations relating to studies of affective neuroscience, especially those possessing innovative experimental designs.

Dissertation abstract: Though oft experienced, boredom is rarely directly researched. Despite this, the negative outcomes associated with boredom are well established. This dissertation characterizes the relation between the experience of boredom and autonomic tone through two experiments. The first experiment characterizes the relationship between the experience of boredom and autonomic tone. The second experiment determines how reinforcement expectancy may influence the subjective experience of boredom, autonomic tone, and performance in a boring task. Both experiments employed a nosological framework that allowed for an analysis of the moderation of all effects by personality measures expected to be associated with boredom and a mediation of all effects by changes in state measures expected to be associated with boredom. The measures, assessed at both the state and trait level, include boredom, dissociation, and anxiety. The results from the first experiment suggest that boredom was successfully induced. Additionally, the experience of boredom is related to specific changes in autonomic tone; however, these findings suggest that some of these changes are associated with anticipatory boredom, while others are associated with consummatory boredom. The results of the second experiment provide a more detailed analysis of consummatory boredom. The type of reinforcement did not influence the subjective rating of boredom, task performance, or physiology. The subjective rating of boredom was associated with individual differences that suggest that individuals who are higher on trait dissociation experienced more boredom. At the state level, mediation suggested a specific patter where individuals who experienced a greater change in boredom, experienced a greater change in anxiety, and then coped with this through dissociating.

Contact information:

Christopher R. Seeman, MA
The New School for Social Research
Department of Psychology
80 Fifth Avenue, 7th floor
New York, NY 10003



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