The maddening halfalogue

Half a dialogue, I guess.

Why Hearing Half of a Cell-Phone Conversation Drives You Nuts
Public cell-phone conversations are maddening for a lot of reasons — their ubiquity, their volume (the conversational equivalent of a leaf blower), their banality ("I prefer the asparagus tips, but these were overcooked..."). But a new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that there might be something subtler at play: presented with half a conversation, our brains feel compelled to fill in the blanks.

Laura Emberson, a PhD candidate in psychology at Cornell University, came up with the idea to investigate the halfalogue when she was an undergraduate student commuting by bus and realized that she found it impossible to concentrate if someone was talking on a cell phone anywhere within earshot. In her recently completed study, she recorded a cell phone conversation between two people — first with both halves of the conversation audible, then again with only one half or the other recorded. Then she played either the full dialogue or the halfalogue to subjects while they tried to perform an onscreen task such as tracking a dot with a cursor.

The result was what she predicted: judging by their performances on the screen test, the people who heard the entire conversation were better able to proceed with the task than those who heard only half of it.


Popular posts from this blog

Helicoptor parenting

Cheap eats?

Win early