What creates a pet peeve?

If you should know one thing about me, I am queen of pet peeves. I have tens that I could tell you on the top of my head, some you might think are crazy, but what can I say, I can’t help the annoyance it causes me. The typical nails on a chalkboard, chewing with your mouth open, are the ones that arise on most occasions, but everyone has something that unique that gets under their skin, whether it is a sound, a social quirk, or a voice, we all a pet peeve. Although it is obvious there are things we as humans get annoyed at or can’t stand to hear or be around, but my wonder is, what causes this “pet peeve” to emanate, and where did it begin?

I thought up a few questions as I had this topic in my mind:


  1. Why do we have pet peeves?
  2. Why is it that some people have more than others?
  3. Can we get over pet peeves?


A study conducted by the Wellcome Institute and Newcastle University tested pet peeves on subjects brains, but having them listen to a series of sounds, one from a fork/knife scraping glass and one nails scraping a chalkboard. These probably being two of the most know unbearable sounds. The researchers monitored the participants brains while the sounds were playing to test what kind of activity would occur and how the brain would react to the horrible sounds. The amygdala, which is where a lot of negative emotions come from, was seen to be the most affected, and followed by uneasiness with the participants actions and expressions as well. They repeated several sounds and repeated the measuring for each one as well.

Another pet peeve example included was the sound of certain words. For example: moist is one of the most common hated words, tending to make some cringe. Apparently, humans associate gross or unpleasant things with negative or uncomfortable thoughts. Possibly a word a can bring on visions of illusions of disgusting things that deter individuals from using them. Once a word is connected or associates something of disgust, most individuals will always think of that when the word is brought up, thus creating a mental pet peeve. This also goes along with food textures or smells. If one dislikes it the first time and it reminds them of something vulgar or foul, most likely that individual will always associate the food negatively. . A 2005 study showed that even if that item is altered or the packaging varied from the original,the participants still disliked them or associated them negatively.

Humans create these pet peeves from experience or exposure to negative things, or dislikes. Once an experience harms or creates a bad connotation, most individuals store it in their mind as a grievance or pet peeve. It depends on what kind and how much exposure one has, determining how many things can create this deterring mindset. We all have them, some more than others, but once they are there, they are there to stay. It’s a good thing chalk boards have become a thing of the past!

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7 thoughts on “What creates a pet peeve?

  1. Thomas Tatem Moore

    This is a very well written and relatable article for me because I have numerous pet peeves. I’ve always wondered what causes someone to have a pet peeve and what causes that specific thing to be the subject of a pet peeve. I agree with the fact that humans create these pet peeves due to a proximity to disliked actions or sayings. Here is a video I found interesting that states the ten most popular pet peeves.

  2. Ryan Eric Freeman

    This was a very interesting topic and I enjoyed the content of the blog! For myself, I see some flaws in the study alone. If you are making the participants listening to obnoxious sound one after another. Wouldn’t that conciser it just being annoying because you are hearing different unpleasant sounds back to back. if the test was constructed more accurately, could it provide a clearer mechanism as to what makes something become a pet peeve?

  3. Liz Galante

    Pet Peeves have always been something that caused me to wonder. I don’t think it will ever make complete sense to me how someone could sit next to someone chewing with their mouth opened with not a care in the world yet if it was me sitting next to someone doing that I would have to get up because it bothers me so much. It was very interesting to read where it comes from and why we have them.

  4. Hannah Marie Helmes

    This is such an interesting topic! Great post! I find it interesting to look more into whether pet peeves is something that we learn or it’s something that we’re born with (nature vs. nurture). I know that even as a baby, I hated not having my socks on straight. I just feel like it’s something that I can’t help, it’s always something that will piss me off. Another pet peeve of mine is that I absolutely can’t stand the sound of chewing but my sister is exactly the same way. This is a topic I would like to look into more.

  5. Madelyn Erin Peikin

    I have to agree with you. I have many pet peeves of my own as well. My absolute least favorite is the sound of a metal fork scratching a plate. I cannot stand this sound, and perhaps it is because of many things listed in your article. I think I will always hate the sound of a fork scratching a plate and I will also always hate the word moist– perhaps because I associate the word with gross things like you mentioned. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Daniel William Snyder

    I liked this article because it is definitely relatable. There are things that I cannot tolerate whatsoever that doesn’t seem to really affect other people and vise versa. It is very interesting to me as to why different people have these different preferences. Not just with pet peeves, but with anything.

  7. Ashton Blair Pinter

    This is an interesting topic. To look at the flip of it, a lot of people’s petpeevs come from other people’s bad habits. For my Dad his biggest petpeev is something that my mom and I both do. My mom and I when in deep thought stick our tongues out to “concentrate”. I wonder if the bad habit was past down to me from my mom or did I start doing it only because I saw my mom do it? You said “humans create these pet peeves from experience or exposure to negative things, or dislikes” and I agree with that!

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