Unpleasant Sounds

Which sounds do people hate the most?


We all have our personal pet peeves (Ugh to scraping, squishing styrofoam), but researchers have looked in brain-searing depth at the sounds that cause the most universal discomfort. In a Journal of Neuroscience study, researchers Sukhbinder Kumar, Katharina von Kriegstein, Karl Friston and Timothy D Griffiths had subjects listen to 74 sound clips and judge each on their level of unpleasantness.

The worst of the worst?

Most Unpleasant Sounds

  1. Knife on a bottle
  2. Fork on a glass
  3. Chalk on a blackboard
  4. Ruler on a bottle
  5. Nails on a blackboard
  6. Female Scream
  7. Anglegrinder
  8. Brakes on a cycle squealing
  9. Baby crying
  10. Electric drill

It wasn’t all ear-torture for these poor subjects. They did find some aural joy in the …

Least Unpleasant Sounds

  1. Applause
  2. Baby laughing
  3. Thunder
  4. Water flowing


Dull as Dishwater


Eating Artichokes

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton