I'm a social psychologist and post-doctoral researcher at the Ohio State University, where I study boredom, interest, and why some thoughts are more engaging than others. I received my PhD from the University of Virginia in 2018 with Tim Wilson. Much of my research has been on the conditions under which people enjoy or do not enjoy their own thoughts (e.g., Westgate, Wilson, & Gilbert, Emotion, 2017; Wilson, Reinhardt, Westgate, Gilbert, Ellerbeck, Hahn, Brown, & Shaked, Science, 2014). I have extended that work to the larger question of why people become bored, developing a new model of boredom that explains what boredom is, why we experience it, and what happens when we do. According to this Meaning and Attentional Components (MAC) model of boredom, we feel bored when we can't successfully engage our attention in meaningful activities (Westgate & Wilson, in press, Psychological Review). We may not enjoy it, but boredom gives us important feedback about our lives. In short, it tells us whether we want to and are able to focus on what we're doing.
I spend my free time looking at fish in my many fresh and saltwater aquariums and -- when I'm lucky -- in the ocean while scuba diving. Luckily, research suggests watching fish is good for you !