Why are repetitive noises so annoying? © Getty Images

Why are repetitive noises so annoying?

This phenomenon largely relies on the type of noise - while some repetitive noises can be tuned out, others can be infuriating.

Asked by: Matty Turner, Stoke

Advertisement

They keep on attracting our attention and prevent us from concentrating on other things. We quickly habituate (stop reacting) to some repetitive sounds, especially regular ones such as ticking clocks, but not to others. Speed matters, with slowly dripping taps being especially maddening. The main reason is lack of control – if you know you can stop the noise at any time you will not find it annoying.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.