Where We Live: The Science Of Annoying

What annoys you?

Editor B, Creative Commons
Where We Live: The Science of Annoying
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Where We Live: The Science of Annoying

You’re on the train, listening to only one half of somebody else’s inane conversation.  That is so annoying!

What else annoys you?  Lip-smacking at the dinner table, slow drivers in the left lane, someone singing (ever so slightly) off key.  Let’s see, I’ve gotten some of these from people: Close talkers, crying kids on a plane, the toilet seat left up (sorry ladies), texting during a movie (or during dinner, or during an important conversation)...

The smallest things can be as annoying and offensive as fingernails on a blackboard.   NPR Science correspondent, Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman, multimedia editor for NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, explore the why in their new book, ANNOYING: The Science of What Bugs Us.  

From buzzing Flies to Public radio pledge drives, call us with your pet peeves and we’ll try to find the explanation for what gets under your skin.



Annoying? Answering a

Annoying? Answering a statement with advice or arguing. Women peeing all over the toilet seat.

Email from Steve

CLIPPING NAILS, in restaurants, in cars, visitors in my home especially.

Email from Andrea

I find that the annoyance often comes from the interpretation of what the behavior means. If you think someone's lip smacking eating habits mean a lack of thoughtfulness and consideration of others, the reaction will be negative (annoyed). If it is interpreted as extreme enjoyment ("compliments to the chef") - it will be welcomed!

Email from Christopher

I admit, I am annoyed by far too many things. .

you were talking about riding your bike on the street. crazily dangerous, from someone who was almoms killed, and i was paralyzed, had my life changed by a car/bicycle accident.

people who, after going out on a date, exchanging a few text messages, emails, then not hearing from them ever again, why can't they just say, no, i don't think i'm interested. It's annoying.

bad communication ... basically .. i think is what that comes down to.

companies, organizations, who schedule board meetings at dinner time but don't provide dinner.

people who drive too fast and stupidly. slow computers.

People who slam their doors in my apartment building. People who dont' consider the fact that they have people living around them in my building, dropping things on the floor, etc. I put those pads on the bottom of my chairs so I don't bother my downstairs neighbor. The guy who lives next door to me drops his toilet seat. The whole freaking building can hear that thing.

People who reply to all on emails when they're not asked to or need to. Like john said earlier, Is it that hard?

But I know I'm annoyed by far too many things, so I find myself constantly trying to NOT be annoyed by so many things, including the things I've listed here.


Annoying things: people who do not brush thier teeth before going to the gym first thing in the early morning.

Email from Jonathan

Great show. What annoys me is people having too many children without even thinking of the impact it is having on this earth. Total disconnect.

"Anonymous Driver"

Has anyone yet mentioned tailgating? I find it terribly annoying, not to mention dangerous, illegal, and stupid. Why tailgate? It doesn't get you to your destination any earlier. I think many people tailgate IN ORDER TO ANNOY the driver in front of them.
"Anonymous Driver"