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Why Certain Sounds — Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard — Drive Us Crazy


What's the worst sound you can think of? I bet fingernails scratching down a chalkboard is one of them. (And, for me, just writing about it makes me shudder!) Turns out, there's a reason why we universally dislike certain sounds. 

It has to do with the shape of the human ear. According to a new study, the anatomy of the ear canal amplifies sounds at high-pitch frequencies, making them actually louder to our ears and therefore uncomfortable.

But our reaction isn't just physical. It's also mental. Researchers also found that people perceive high-pitch frequencies differently depending on if they're told the sound is coming from fingernails on a chalkboard or is a part of contemporary music. In the study, people who knew they were listening to nails on a chalkboard rated the sound as more unpleasant and were more stressed than those who believed they were listening to music.

Interesting stuff, huh? Do you find the nails-on-a-chalkboard sound unbearable? 


Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites and A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.


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