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Why does the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard make me cringe? © Getty Images

Why does the sound of nails scratching a chalkboard make me cringe?

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The noise when someone scrapes their nails down a blackboard is unbearable - but is it because of the sound or the sensation?

Asked by: Joseph Hill, London

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It has been hypothesised that it evokes the sound of babies crying, but it's really not so much the sound itself as the thought of scratching our own nails down a blackboard.

This is quite a painful thing to do because the vibrations are transmitted directly to the nail-bed and we may just be empathising with that sensation.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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