Why Overheard Calls Are So Annoying

Our brains hate hearing 'halfalogues'
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2010 11:09 AM CDT
Why Overheard Calls Are So Annoying
Shut it, lady!   (?combustionchamber)

Does hearing people blab away on their cell phones make you want to scream? You're not alone—and now scientists know why. Hearing someone talk on his phone is, in fact, more annoying than overhearing a conversation, according to new study published in
Psychological Science. Turns out our brains can't stand hearing just half the dialogue—hence the feelings of oh-so-blinding rage.

Researchers at Cornell found that overhearing half a dialogue, or "halfalogue," resulted in decreased performance on cognitive tasks, whereas overhearing both sides of the conversation does not. This may be because the content of a halfalogue is harder for our brains to predict. In short, we get so riled up because cell talkers distract us when we're trying to get stuff done.
(Read more cognitive science stories.)

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