Almost one in three people hate seeing others fidget, study finds

Almost one in three people hate seeing others fidget, study finds
Almost one in three people hate seeing others fidget, study finds

If you're irritated by the mere sight of people fidgeting, a new scientific study suggests you're not alone. 

Researchers in Canada recruited 4,100 participants who were asked to self-report whether they have sensitivities to seeing people fidget. 

They found that almost one in three people experienced the psychological phenomenon known as 'misokinesia, or a 'hatred of movements'. 

Misokinesia is psychological response to the sight of someone else's small but repetitive movements, the experts say, and it can seriously affect daily living.   

Misokinesia - the 'hatred of movements' - is a psychological response to the sight of someone else's small and repetitive movements (concept image)

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Misokinesia - the 'hatred of movements' - is a psychological response to the sight of someone else's small and repetitive movements (concept image) 

MISOKINESIA: HATRED OF MOVEMENTS 

Misokinesia - or the 'hatred of movements' - is a psychological phenomenon that is defined as a strong negative affective or emotional response to the sight of someone else's small and repetitive movements.

This could be in the form of seeing someone mindlessly fidgeting with their hands or an object about their person. 

Misokinesia differs from misophonia', which refers to getting annoyed by noises other people make.

Source: misokinesia.ca

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Misokinesia differs from misophonia, which refers to getting annoyed by noises other people make, rather than actions that are perceived visually. 

The new study was conducted by PhD student Sumeet Jaswal and Professor Todd Handy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who claim that misokinesia has barely been studied until now. 

'I was inspired to study misokinesia after a romantic partner told me that I have a fidgeting habit, which I wasn't aware of,' said Dr Handy.

'She confessed that she experiences a lot of stress whenever she sees me or anyone else fidget.

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'As a visual cognitive neuroscientist, this really piqued my interest to find out what is happening in the brain.'

The team asked their 4,100 participants – both students and other members of the general population – to self-report whether they had sensitivities to seeing people fidget. 

This was determined through questions including 'Do you ever have strong negative feelings, thoughts or physical reactions when seeing or viewing other peoples' fidgeting or repetitive movements (e.g., seeing someone's foot shaking, fingers tapping, or gum chewing)?'

The study authors say: 'Among those who regularly experience misokinesia sensitivity, there is a growing grass-roots recognition of the challenges that it presents as evidenced by on-line support groups'

The study authors say: 'Among those who regularly experience misokinesia sensitivity, there is a growing grass-roots recognition of the challenges that it presents as evidenced by on-line support groups'

NEURONS AND MIRROR NEURONS

A neuron, also known as nerve cell, is an electrically excitable cell that takes up, processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. 

It is one of the basic elements of the nervous system.

In order that a human being can react to his environment, neurons transport stimuli.

The stimulation, for example the burning of the finger at a candle flame, is transported by the ascending neurons to the central nervous system and in return, the descending neurons stimulate the arm in order to remove the finger from the candle. 

Mirror neurons, meanwhile, are a class of neuron that fire both when we execute an action and when we observe someone else executing it. 

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They then assessed the emotional and social impacts of misokinesia in the people who did report signs of the phenomenon. 

'They are negatively impacted emotionally and experience reactions such as anger, anxiety or frustration as well as reduced enjoyment in social situations, work and learning environments,' said Dr Handy. 

'Some even pursue fewer social activities because of the condition. We also found these impacts increase with age and older adults reported a broader range of challenges.'

As to why people are impacted negatively when they see others fidget, the researchers aren't sure, but it's possible 'mirror neurons' may provide an answer.

Mirror neurons are a class of neuron that fire both when we execute an action and when we observe someone else executing it.  

Mirror neurons activate when an individual moves, but they also activate when the individual sees others

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