Non-mystery resolved

It is apparently a question that vexes many commuters every morning: why is it so irritating to have to listen to someone else talk on a mobile phone?

No it isn’t. The obvious answer is that it is because you can only hear one side of the conversation.

However, psychologists in America believe they have now found the answer. Their new research suggests it is much more difficult to concentrate when we can only hear one side of a conversation.

A team of (presumably highly paid) scientists has found that people do not find listening to a two-way conversation as annoying because it is an easier task to predict what is going to happen, or be said, next.

However, when they can only hear one party to the discussion, they become frustrated as they try and imagine what the other person is saying. This is apparently because our brains more or less ignore predictable things, while they pay more attention to things that are unpredictable.

The study has been published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

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