At some point in your life, have you ever come across a classmate who repeatedly tapped his pencil on the table during high school classes, or even that person, in a meeting, who relentlessly shook his legs, clicking the pen without stopping? For some, watching someone else’s movements can cause deep irritation. In fact, this type of stress – which is called misokinesis – is much more common than you might think.
About a third of the population is annoyed — with varying degrees of irritability — with this type of behavior, according to Canadian research. According to the study published in Scientific Reports by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the stressful feelings triggered by seeing others fidget is an extremely common psychological phenomenon.
Misokinesia is the name of stress caused in those who get irritated by repetitive movements of others (Image: Reproduction/Engagestock/Envato Elements)
Misokinesis or misophony?
To date, the strange phenomenon has been little studied by scientists and should not be confused with misophony. In this second disorder, people are irritated when they hear repetitive sounds, such as the snapping of fingers. However, both conditions are similar, but the triggers are different, as one is visual and the other is audible.
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“[Misocinesia] is defined as a strong negative affective or emotional response to seeing another person’s small, repetitive movements, such as seeing someone moving. [repetitivamente] without thinking with a hand or foot”, details the team of psychologists at UBC, in the scientific article.
To improve science’s understanding of this problem, the Canadian research team conducted the “first in-depth scientific exploration” of misokinesis, involving more than 4,000 volunteers.
How present is misokinesis in society?
Through a series of experiments involving more than 4,100 participants, Canadian researchers measured the prevalence of misokinesia in a very broad group of people in the country, which blended both the general population and university students. The idea was to assess the group’s impact on watching repetitive movements and looking for possible explanations.
According to Canadian research, a third of people get irritated by those who make repetitive movements (Image: Reproduction/Twenty20photos/Envato)
“We found that approximately a third [um em cada três voluntários] reported some degree of sensitivity to misokinesis to the repetitive and disturbing behaviors of other people as found in their daily lives,” the researchers said. However, this high level of irritation may have a connection with the country’s culture and may not necessarily apply in other populations.
On the other hand, “these results support the conclusion that sensitivity to misokinesia is not a phenomenon restricted to clinical populations, but is a basic and hitherto little recognized social challenge shared by many [indivíduos] in the general population”, highlight the study authors.
Regarding patients who reported this irritation, “they suffer a negative emotional impact and experience reactions such as anger, anxiety or frustration, as well as reduced pleasure in social situations, work and learning environments”, explains psychologist Todd Handy, from UBC .
Why do we find restlessness so irritating?
In the study, researchers looked for possible answers to the origin of misokinesia. One of the ideas was that irritation occurred because people could not shift the focus of repetitive motion from someone in the same environment, that is, less ability to abstract distractions. However, no evidence to support this justification was found.
Another possibility is that the mirror neurons are in action. “These neurons are activated when we move, but they also activate when we see others moving. For example, when you see someone getting hurt, you can also wince as the pain is reflected in your own brain,” explains Sumeet Jaswal of UBC .
Through this possible explanation, it is possible to think that people with a tendency to misokinesia may actually have unconscious empathy with the psychology of the restless. “One reason people are fidgety is because they are anxious or nervous, so when individuals who suffer from misokinesia see someone fidgety, they may reflect that and feel anxious or nervous too,” speculates Jaswal.
But this idea was also not proven in the recently published research. Now, new studies from the university must deepen the findings about misokinesis. “For those who suffer from misokinesia, you are not alone,” recalled Handy. “His challenge is common and it’s real,” added the psychologist.
To access the full article, click here.
Source: Science Alert
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