Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Science Has a Word for Those People Who Just Really Annoy Everyone For No Apparent Reason

Jessica Stillman


Take a minute before you read this post and look around your office (or classroom or coffee shop). Is there anyone there who just always annoys you? Is there a person who consistently energizes you?

Chances are good the answer is yes. And chances are also excellent that you thought this was just some personal quirk of yours. It doesn’t make huge amounts of sense, after all, that some people instantly and for no apparent reason put your teeth on edge or make you smile. But I have good news for you: you’re not a weirdo!

This ability of some people to completely annoy everyone for no apparent reason is a recognized scientific phenomenon. It’s called “affective presence” and The Atlantic investigated the subject in a fascinating article (hat tip to The Cut).

Science can’t figure out why some people are just so annoying.

“A small body of psychology research supports the idea that the way a person tends to make others feel is a consistent and measurable part of his personality. Researchers call it ‘affective presence,’” reports Julie Beck in the piece.

For some people their affective presence is a huge positive — others just relax when they walk in a room. For other poor, benighted souls their affective presence is a nasty liability. They just instantly annoy everyone. And as of yet no one is quite sure why.

“Exactly what people are doing that sets others at ease or puts them off hasn’t yet been studied. It may have to do with body language, or tone of voice, or being a good listener,” writes Beck, but what is known is that it isn’t just a function of emotions being contagious.

People with a negative affective presence don’t just annoy others out when they are annoyed themselves. They can be having the best day of their lives and still irritate others. Your emotions and your effect on the emotions of others are distinct phenomena.

“To use common, everyday words, some people are just annoying. It doesn’t mean they’re annoyed all the time. They may be content because they’re always getting their way. Some people bring out great things in others while they’re…



Jessica Stillman

Top columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast.