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Science Says People Who’re Annoyed By Chewing Sounds Are More Creative

Science Says People Who’re Annoyed By Chewing Sounds Are More Creative

Does the slurping or smacking of people’s lips when they are eating really get to you? Maybe you hate going to the movies because the people crunching popcorn next to you make you want to crawl inside a hole. Or, maybe it’s just the sounds of someone chewing bubble gum noisily that drives you bananas.

If this sounds more like you, relax. You may have heightened sensitivity to certain noises, a diagnosable condition called misophonia. While joining the unlucky 20 percent of people who have misophonia may be unfortunate, it’s not entirely bad. There is some good news associate with this condition.

Scientists from Northwestern University have found that people who are hypersensitive to particular sounds tend to be more creative than those who are not.

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Yep, you read that right. If you get annoyed by chewing sounds, you are probably a genius. The more rage you feel at people’s inability to munch their food quietly, the more of a genius you probably are.

How Misophonia is linked to creativity

In their eye-opening study, the researcher from Northwestern University surveyed 100 participants who were asked to provide as many answers as they could to several unlikely scenarios within a limited amount of time. The researchers monitored how participants reacted to a number of noises, and then asked them to complete a Creative Achievement Questionnaire before drawing their conclusions.

According to the study authors, the participants’ “answers revealed a strong link between those with the most creative answers and achievements and those sensitive to background noise.” The study showed that “higher divergent thinking scores were linked with more selective sensory gating.” In other words, the more the sounds bothered you, the higher you scored on tests that measure creativity.

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Darya Zabelina, lead researcher in the study, explains:

“The propensity to filter out ‘irrelevant’ sensory information… happens early and involuntarily in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world.”

Interestingly, the researchers also looked into the habits of “creative geniuses” like Charles Darwin, Anton Chekhov and novelist Marcel Proust to compare their findings. They found that many of these massively creative people also had a strong aversion to background noises. Proust, they wrote, had such a strong aversion to noises that he covered “his bedroom with cork to block out noise whilst he worked.”

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Darwin, Chekhov and Johan Goethe also strongly lamented the distracting nature of noise. Even Franz Kafka, one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, reportedly said: “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ – that wouldn’t be enough – but like a dead man.”

So, the next time you’re getting vexed that someone next to you is loudly slurping on their chicken noodle or munching and crunching on their crisps, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re more creative, and probably also smarter than they are. Otherwise, that person wouldn’t be mindlessly chomping on their food like that.

Coping with noisy eaters

You’d imagine adults would know better than to chew with their mouths open, but it’s obvious not everyone is as well-mannered or considerate as you’d want. That means creative people, those with misophonia don’t have it easy. But, one can persevere through annoying “mouth sounds.”

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If, however, people’s lip smacking bothers you too much, you need to learn how to cope. You can’t make everyone else change the way they eat just because it bothers you so don’t even try to change a chewer.

Pawel Jastreboff, who’s credited with coining the term misophonia, has helped people with misophonia by teaching them to associate positive experiences with annoying mouth sounds, gradually reducing the negative emotions the subjects felt.

Jastreboff’s technique works more than 80% of the time, so maybe you don’t have to plug your ears or walk away from the dinner table halfway through a meal if your spouse or other family member is the chewer, after all.

Featured photo credit: LoloStock via shutterstock.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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