UBC Study – Coast Mountain News


Typing with a pen, bouncing legs, twirling hair, twisting your thumb – if witnessing any of these behaviors causes you to climb the wall, you may be suffering from misokinesia.

Misokinesis, or “hatred of movement” is the subject of a recent study from the University of British Columbia which found that about a third of people hate watching people move around.

The study was led by Sumeet Jaswal, doctoral student in psychology at UBC, and Todd Handy, professor of psychology at UBC. Their study included 4,100 participants who were asked to self-report whether they were sensitive to seeing people fidget and how that sensitivity affected them.

“They are negatively impacted emotionally and experience reactions such as anger, anxiety or frustration as well as reduced pleasure in social situations, work and learning environments,” Handy said.

“Some even pursue less social activities because of the disease. We also found that these impacts increase with age and that older people reported a wider range of challenges. “

Jaswal suggests that these negative impacts could involve mirror neurons. She said these neurons activate during movement or witness movement in others, and are related to empathy and help people understand others.

“One of the reasons people get agitated is that they are anxious or nervous. So when people with misokinesia see someone fidgeting, they may reflect that and also feel anxious or nervous. We hope to examine this more closely in our future research and determine if there is a genetic component to susceptibility, ”Jaswal said.

There is no cure for misokinesia, but awareness of the disease could go a long way in helping those who suffer from it. The research duo have created an online resource: misokinesia.ca where people can access studies, news and a community of people affected by misokinesia.

“Misokinesis is a widely shared phenomenon that no one has ever really talked about. In starting this discussion, there is reason to hope for better understanding and better results, ”said Handy.

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