Misokinesia is a Sensitivity to Seeing Others Fidget That is Prevalent in the General Population

Sumeet M. Jaswal, Andreas K. F. De Bleser, & Todd C. Handy



Misokinesia –– or the ‘hatred of movements’ –– is a psychological phenomenon that is defined by a strong negative affective or emotional response to the sight of someone else’s small and repetitive movements, such as seeing someone fidget with a hand or foot. Among those who regularly experience misokinesia sensitivity, there is a growing grass-roots recognition of the challenges that it presents as evidenced by on-line support groups.  Yet surprisingly, scientific research on the topic is lacking.  This article is novel in systematically examining whether misokinesia sensitivity actually exists in the general population, and if so, whether there is individual variability in the intensity or extent of what sensitivities are reported. Across three studies that included 4100 participants, we confirmed the existence of misokinesia sensitivity in both student and non-student populations, with approximately one-third of our participants self-reporting some degree of sensitivity to seeing the repetitive, fidgeting behaviors of others as encountered in their daily lives.  Moreover, individual variability in the range and intensity of sensitivities reported suggest that the negative social-affective impacts associated with misokinesia sensitivities may grow with age.  Our findings thus confirm that a large segment of the general population may have a visual-social sensitivity that has received little formal recognition.