TedW: "I actually don't mind it when strangers include me in their side of a conversation in a public space. I figure it gives me carte blanche to chime in with helpful advice on whatever intensely personal problem they have just shared with everyone within hearing distance."
The researchers suggest that the reason that half a conversation is so distracting — and therefore, most cell phone conversations we overhear — is because the speech processing part of our brains is drawn to make sense of the pattern we’re hearing. Since it generally can’t do this with only half the data, our brains are straining under the load of this processing task. In a normal conversation, speech is predictable — Person A talks, then Person B responds, and so on.
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