We think of some people as “boring” and ignore them in social situations. But why do we believe they’re a bore before we speak with them?

According to a 2014 study done at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, boredom is one of our most unpleasant emotions. It’s much more difficult for people to sit in a room doing nothing when they see an unfinished jigsaw puzzle that they’re not allowed to touch. This could explain why we become irritated when we’re stuck with a “boring” person while listening to all the other interesting conversations going on around us. Unfortunately, we criticize people before they have an opportunity to capture someone’s attention. Social scientist Wijnand van Tilburg says that people are significantly more likely to judge others when they are threatened.

Someone’s self-doubt could be hidden by negatively evaluating others based on their job or hobbies. Boredom, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.