What’s The Most Annoying Sound Ever?

June 22, 2011 | By | Comments (4)

I love, love, love it when scientific research confirms what I already know. In this case, researchers at SUNY-New Paltz have determined that yes, the sound of a child whining is The. Most. Horrible. Sound. Ever.

In the experiment, reported in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, participants had to endure various sounds (an infant crying, a table saw, a woman speaking to her child in exaggerated baby-talk called “motherese,” silence, regular speech and, finally, whining) while solving simple math problems.

Turns out, people made the most errors and completed the fewest equations when they had to listen to the whining as opposed to the other noises.

As a New York City resident who is frequently subjected to squealing sirens, persistent jackhammers, wildly barking dogs, what sometimes sounds like our upstairs neighbors are doing cartwheels at 3 a.m., and as the mother of a 21-month-old toddler who has already entered the terrible twos (replete with whining, tantrums, and speaking almost entirely imperative commands like “mama get cookie!”) I must say: whining really is a specific, insidious type of torture! Heck, I’m not sure I could spell my own name while listening to whining, let alone do addition or subtraction.

What sounds or noises really drive you batty?