Goofing off

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A man goofing off at work, playing with a fidget spinner and a ball

Goofing off is an American slang term for engaging in recreation or an idle pastime while obligations of work or society are neglected. Common obligations neglected in the course of goofing off include schoolwork, paid employment, social courtesies and the expectations of relations. Goofing off at school is considered to be a regular behaviour in the Western world, which is engaged in by all students at one time or another.[1]

When goofing off occurs within the classroom, teachers can resolve the matter quickly by direct confrontation.[2] Employers may use wage premiums to discourage goofing off by their employees, although it is suggested that the effects of such incentives causes aging to have a negative effect upon earnings sooner than would be otherwise expected.[3] Goofing off has been shown to improve work or study in the right environments, and can relieve stress.[4][5] It may be a form of creativity and experimentation, providing useful learning experiences and discoveries.[6]

Some research has indicated that women tend to feel more guilt than men about taking time for themselves and so use breaks to become more organized.[7] James C. Scott considers shirking work (goofing off) to be a frequent form of unnoticed resistance by subordinate groups.[8]

Perhaps the most famous example of goofing off is the tale reported by Suetonius of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Everhart (Spring 1982), "The Nature of "Goofing Off" among Junior High School Adolescents", Adolescence, 17 (65): 177–88
  2. ^ John P. Fields, Classroom Management and Conflict Resolution: From "Goofing Off" to Violence in the Classroom (PDF)[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Kenneth V. Greene (October 1979), "Goofing off, Aging and Earnings", Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, 46 (2): 623–627, doi:10.2307/1057434, JSTOR 1057434
  4. ^ Evans, Lisa (October 16, 2012). "3 Ways Goofing Off at Work Can Make Your Company More Innovative". Entrepreneur.
  5. ^ Rodriguez, Rachel (29 March 2013). "Goofing off on company time? Go for it". CNN.
  6. ^ Lara Honos-Webb (2005), The Gift of ADHD, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, p. 105, ISBN 1-57224-389-9
  7. ^ Cynthia R. Shuster (2001), "Take Five:" Simplify (PDF), Ohio State University, archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-10
  8. ^ C., Scott, James (1990). Arts of resistance : hidden transcript of subordinate groups. Yale University Press. OCLC 29348167.
  9. ^ "Suetonius • Life of Nero".
  10. ^ Mary Francis Gyles (Jan 1947), "Nero Fiddled while Rome Burned", The Classical Journal, 42 (4): 211–217

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