Pet Peeves: The Role of Happiness and Mindfulness

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relationship difficulties: young couple having a conflictFeeling frustrated by slow walkers, people who fail to use their turn signal, or people who forget to cover their mouths when they cough? These relatively petty concerns are called pet peeves. Pet peeves like these and others represent particular occasions, actions, or individuals that cause a person to complain, feel frustrated or get angry.

How are relationships affected by pet peeves? What role does mindfulness play in reducing negative feelings? Kowalski and colleagues sought to answer these questions in their study Pet Peeves and Happiness: How Do Happy People Complain? They examined participants’ pet peeves via a survey that included listing biggest personal irritations, assessments of positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, depression, and happiness.

Results from this study suggest that the most reported pet peeves included chewing gum loudly, mumbling, being unclean, not listening, whining, and being late. In addition, pet peeves made people less satisfied with their relationships with others. This was due to people constantly expressing their annoyances to their significant other. As a result, individuals were irritated and felt that their partner was intentionally trying to make them upset. Furthermore, people reported feeling unhappy due to others engaging in their pet peeves. Mindfulness appeared to make a difference in how people felt when they saw others partaking in their pet peeves. Kowalski and colleagues found two ways that people can deal effectively with their pet peeves.  First, people can express their grievances when they think that it will make a difference. Individuals realize that by expressing their grievances to their significant other, it will only make things worse. Second, individuals can engage in mindfulness to better deal with their pet peeves and increase happiness. Happy people tend to avoid engaging in negative thoughts. By thinking of their pet peeves and expressing their annoyances to others, this decreases feelings of happiness and increases negativity.

AlexandraBy Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.


Kowalski, R., Allison, B., Giumetti, G., Turner, J., Whittaker, E., Frazee, L., & Stephens, J. (2014). Pet peeves and happiness: How do happy people complain? The Journal of Social Psychology, 154, 278-282.

Episode 6: Toxic Masculinity (Part 2)

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In our second episode on Toxic Masculinity, we talk about the science linking masculinity to anger, aggression, and structural violence. Plus, Chuck talks with Dr. Karlyn Crowley, professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies and director of the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College. Like always, we end with an anger management tip and talk about what’s been making us angry lately.


Short Fuse: Toxic Masculinity and Super Bowl Commercials

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In this short episode, Drs. Ryan Martin and Bryan Carr (UW-Green Bay Communication Department) talk about toxic masculinity, or the lack thereof, in yesterday’s Super Bowl commercials.

All the Rage is a podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.