Scientists: Whining May Be the World's Most Annoying Sound

Of course, parents have known this for years. But now science confirms that the sound of a whining person is almost impossible to ignore:

Psychologists from SUNY and Clark University put participants through the daft trial of trying to do maths problems while listening to a range of six sounds, including a screeching saw on wood, machine noise, a baby crying, motherese and whining, for a whole minute each. Weirdly, the whining sample actually came from an adult, as child actors could not “act out a sustained whining bout”. Previous research has shown adult and child whining to be similar enough to enable this substitution.

The study subjected both men and women, parents and non-parents, to the tests, who were rewarded for their troubles with either M&Ms or toy shop vouchers, depending on their childrearing experience.

After having looked at the maths results, the psychologists found that while all “attachment vocalisations” — meaning motherese, crying or whining — caused greater distraction than silence to the participants, a minute of whining resulted in a greater number of mistakes than machine noise or motherese. Furthermore, both parents and non-parents were affected similarly by whining.

Link | Photo by Flickr user emrank used under Creative Commons license

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