Joe Palca, who earned his PhD in psychology at the University of California–Santa Cruz, has been at NPR for more than 20 years.
duration. There’s this element of, if
you know that the delay on a particular
airline flight is going to be 10 minutes,
then pfff … 10 minutes. You look at
your watch, you might get a little
impatient, but you’re not necessarily
going to get annoyed because you know
that in 10 minutes you’re going to take
off. But if the delay is undetermined,
and it’s 10 minutes and nothing’s
happened, and it’s 20 minutes and
nothing’s happened, then the irritation
begins to grow.
Things can be annoying without
having that quality. I mean, clipping
your nails — even the first clip is
annoying, you don’t have to wait for the
next one, if it’s something that bugs you.
But that extra quality of “when is this
going to end” seems to be important.
Is the annoyance you’re feeling a
separate emotion from, say, mild
anger? Had the psychologists and
other researchers you talked to
thought of it that way before?
No, I don’t think that most of the