The Real Reason You Keep Biting Your Nails

As any nail biter can tell you, one reason it's so darn hard to quit is the fact that your nails are always right there, quite literally at your fingertips. If you're trying to quit smoking, you can always throw out your cigarettes on a day when all the stores are closed, or else enlist a loved one to keep you from being able to get to the store to satisfy your desperate nicotine craving. Things might get ugly, but at least you'll have had a head start on going cold turkey.

With fingernails, though, what are you going to do, wear gloves 24/7? There are various products marketed to help with the nail-biting habit, many of which work on the principle of making your fingernails taste nasty (via The Zoe Report), but if you're a dedicated nail biter you'll just ignore the taste and keep on chomping.

Why is it, though — besides sheer proximity — that drives you to bite in the first place, and keeps you so addicted? While most people tend to think nail-biting occurs when people are suffering from anxiety, it turns out that this particular habit may instead be associated with a different personality trait: that of perfectionism.

Nail biting isn't all about nerves

A recent study by the University of Montreal links certain "body-focused repetitive behaviors" such as hair tugging and finger tapping (as well as nail biting) with the impatience felt by extremely goal-driven people bored and frustrated by inactivity (via Bustle).

Well, that's kind of a game-changer, isn't it? For one thing, it kind of takes out of play the whole nail-biting suspense trope. New sports clichés may also be required — instead of describing a game where the score stayed really close right up until the end as a nail-biter, what should we now call it? A buttocks-clencher, perhaps? 

One positive result of this study is that no longer can we look down on nail-biters as nervous Nellies. Instead, they are would-be world-conquerors who are merely chagrined by an enforced wait at the DMV.