7 annoying habits and the fascinating scientific reasons for them
Why does your co-worker constantly clear her throat? What’s behind your best friend’s Facebook oversharing? Science has the answers to these annoying habits.
Constantly clearing throat
Ahem, ahem! Someone who constantly clears his or her throat could have a nose and sinuses problem, called chronic rhinitis, which results in excessive mucus production. It occurs when an irritant (typically allergies) inflames the membrane in the upper respiratory tract. People with year-round allergies, like house dust mites, may have a constant build-up of mucus in their throat, which leads to that non-stop clearing. It can usually be treated with a few weeks of a strong anti-allergy medication. Another potential cause: acid reflux. When acid passes from the stomach upward into the oesophagus, the throat swells. Mucus sticks to the swollen tissues, causing hoarseness and a cough. If over-the-counter heartburn medications don’t resolve the issue, a doctor may be able to prescribe stronger treatment.
For more on this topic, here’s how to survive allergy season.
Always saying, “you know” or “like”
There’s always, like, one not-so-brilliant movie character who talks this way, you know? Don’t write off their intelligence: Research suggests that those who often say “like” and “you know” may be especially thoughtful. In a study published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, researchers examined more than 260 transcriptions of normal conversations. They discovered people who used these “filler words” tend to be more conscientious than people who don’t. Researchers say discourse markers imply a desire to thoughtfully share opinions with others, and may give someone more time to phrase something just right.
Funnily enough, “conscientious” is one of the 15 hardest words to spell in the English language.