A hitherto unknown disorder, affecting 1 in 3 people.
We like to be at peace with ourselves and with those around us and it happens, in fact, that when we see someone close to us fidgeting, perhaps with nervous tics, we get annoyed too. Feelings of stress caused by seeing others fidget are an incredibly common psychological phenomenon, affecting one in three people, according to the study by the team of researchers led by psychologist Sumeet Jaswal of British Columbia University. Scholars wanted to probe more deeply into this disorder which takes the name of misokinesia ( misokinesia in English) and is described as ” rejection of small repetitive movements made by other people ” .
The phenomenon, little studied by scientists, was discovered when further studies were carried out on another related condition, misophonia : a disorder in which people get irritated when they hear certain repetitive sounds. Misokinesia is somewhat similar, but the triggers are usually more visual than audible, according to researchers. Basically a visual version of misophonia.
Jaswal and his colleagues conducted what they say was the “first in-depth scientific exploration” of misokinesia, and the results indicate that heightened sensitivity to agitation is something large numbers of people are dealing with.
In a series of experiments involving more than 4,100 participants, researchers measured the prevalence of misokinesia in a group of college students and general populations, assessing the impact it had on them and exploring why the sensations they could manifest. “We found that approximately one-third of the subjects reported some degree of misokinesia sensitivity to the repetitive, agitated behaviors of others in their daily lives”
Effects on sufferers
The phenomenon appears to vary significantly between individuals, with some people reporting only low sensitivity to agitation stimuli, while others feel strongly affected.
“Those prone to the disorder are negatively affected emotionally and experience reactions such as anger , anxiety or frustration, as well as reduced well-being in social situations, work and learning environments,” explained UBC psychologist Todd Handy. in 2021. According to researchers, those responsible for this phenomenon are mirror neurons which lead people with this disorder to unconsciously identify with the psychology of those who get agitated.
“One reason people fidget is that they are anxious or nervous, so when individuals with misokinesia see someone fidgeting, they may mirror themselves and feel anxious or nervous too,” Jaswal said.
Studies on misokinesia are still preliminary, but available data show that it is an unusual phenomenon that is much more common than you think.
- Misokinesia is a sensitivity to seeing other fidgets that is prevalent in the general population. (nature.com)