Home HEALTH AND FITNESS The Science Behind Six of the Most Annoying Habits

The Science Behind Six of the Most Annoying Habits


We all have our pet peeves, and many of them relate to how others behave. Perhaps you can’t stand seeing a fellow commuter bite their nails, or maybe you’re seething with frustration every time you have to contend with an aggressive driver. Well, it turns out that there are truly fascinating scientific reasons behind annoying actions like these. Perhaps reading about the physiological and psychological underpinnings of these seven common habits will help to defuse some of your irritation.

  1. Saying “like” every few words

Speakers themselves rarely notice their repetition of “like” but listeners may sometimes assume that superficiality or lack of intelligence is the cause. However, people who say often pepper their sentences with filler words such as “like” or “you know” reliably test as being more careful and thoughtful. For example, one study published in the prominent Journal of Language and Social Psychology looked at the use of filler words in 260 everyday conversations. The researchers found that the participants who frequently used “like” and other filler words did so in part because they were keen to accurately express themselves—the filler words functioned as pauses while they found just the right words. So, the next time you find yourself irked by a conversation partner who says “you know” every 10 seconds, consider that they might just make a compassionate and conscientious friend.

  1. Nail biting and skin picking

It can be anxiety-inducing to watch people who always pick at their skin or bite their nails. However, these fidgety individuals who seem intent on destroying their own hands tend to be perfectionists, according to recent findings in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Participants in the study who reported picking at or chewing their nails tended to do so more often when they were bored (rather than in relaxing situations)—and they were bored more often than participants who didn’t share their habit. The researchers speculated that nail-biters and skin-pickers are perfectionists because perfectionists bore more quickly than the average individual. It could also be that the bitters and picker are actually showing signs of anxiety themselves.

  1. Aggressive driving

Interestingly, scientists at Colorado State University