...the sound of someone vomiting.
Yes, smart, educated people were paid real money to figure this out. The year-long online study, led by Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering at Salford University in England, attracted more than one million votes on 37 horrible sounds most of us hate to hear.
The Daily Telegraph and ABC News report that coming in right behind the sound of someone puking was microphone feedback, crying babies and the scrapes and squeaks of train wheels.
Some sounds that Cox anticipated to be at the top of the most-hated list weren't so despised after all, including fingernails being dragged on a chalkboard (No. 16) and the dentist's drill (No. 20).
"The reasons for disgust are sometimes quite varied," Cox told ABC News. "We find vomiting disgusting because we are pre-programmed to stay away from disease and other people's body fluids, but there are also reasons of manners and etiquette at play."
The top 10 sounds we most hate to hear:
"From a scientific perspective, we really don't understand why some sounds are so horrible, but our reactions are part of what make us human," Cox told The Daily Telegraph. "If, as engineers, we can learn what offends people then, in some cases, we may be able to engineer them out of existence or at least reduce their impact."
- Microphone feedback
- Multiple babies crying
- Scraping of train wheels
- Seesaw squeaking
- One baby crying
- Soap opera argument
- Electricity hum
--From the Editors at Netscape