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Surprising Science

Why We Love to Eavesdrop

Why do we listen to someone talking on the phone with more attention than to a conversation where we hear both sides? The Frontal Cortex explains the unavoidable temptation to eavesdrop.

“A fascinating new paper in Psychological Science explores an apparent paradox of eavesdropping: It’s harder to not listen to a conversation when someone is talking on the phone (we only hear one side of the dialogue) than when two physically present people are talking to each other. Although the phone conversation contains much less information, we’re much more curious about what’s being said. Let’s call this ‘The Annoying Guy On The Train Effect.’ He is the last man on earth we want to listen to, and yet he is impossible to ignore.”


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