Most People Cannot Recognize "contagious" Cough By Ear - Scientists' Findings

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Most People Cannot Recognize "contagious" Cough By Ear - Scientists' Findings
Most People Cannot Recognize "contagious" Cough By Ear - Scientists' Findings

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Most people cannot recognize "contagious" cough by ear - scientists' findings

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan (University of Michigan) decided to find out if people far from medicine can understand whether a person coughing next to them is sick or he just choked.

Most people cannot recognize "contagious" cough by ear - scientists' findings
Most people cannot recognize "contagious" cough by ear - scientists' findings

Photo: Gustavo / Pexels

According to the main author of the study, psychologist Nicholas Michalak, people have developed a habit of distancing themselves from those who have obvious signs of the disease so as not to get infected themselves. Previous research has shown that most people can easily recognize the likely symptoms of colds and flu in others by their appearance: red eyes, fever, sweating, runny nose. However, the presence of a cough is misleading for many: a person who is far from medicine has erroneous ideas about how a cough should sound in infectious diseases. This has become especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people are very worried about someone coughing in a supermarket or public transport, Michalak said.

Together with his colleagues, Nicholas Michalak conducted a study in which 200 volunteers participated. They were given to watch videos on Youtube of people coughing and asked to determine which of them was sick, and who just choked or suffers from allergies. Most of the participants were able to correctly recognize an infected person's cough only four out of ten times.

“The accuracy of the responses did not improve even when the participants were warned about how many 'infectious' sounds there would be or when they focused on how unpleasant the cough sounded. At the same time, they all reported that they were completely confident in their conclusions,”Michalak said.

Scientists believe that people should not draw conclusions about the health of others by the sound of their coughing and not panic every time someone sneezes nearby.

“We do not find any evidence that people can identify a threat from pathogens by the sound of a cough, even if they are sure otherwise. Leave diagnoses to doctors,”the scientist emphasized.

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