Why do some people tend to twirl their hair? Is it just a harmless habit or is there more to it?
Twirling might be a response to stress and anxiety for some people, and in other cases, it might be indicative of a compulsive disorder. As such, the person into this ‘habit’ might not even be doing it consciously, that is, he does not necessarily realise he is doing it – it is not intentional.
The person twirling his hair will mostly typically do it when alone, as suggested by previous studies.
Hair twirling might sprout as a childhood habit that may or may not persist in later years as an adult. It is done for a variety of reasons: some ‘use’ it as a way to feel more relaxed. It has thus been described as a pacifying habit to generate calmness. One may even compare it to the action of sucking one’s thumb, as suggested in a study performed in 2008.
Those twirl their hair when stressed out or feeling nervous may also not be aware that they are stressed. A study evaluating anxiety mentions hair twirling as an indication of the condition (anxiety) among humans.
Others, though, twirl their hair all the time that it’s much more than a habit. If it does not come with negative repercussions, it will not be regarded as a concern per say. However, if twirling one’s hair is interfering with one’s daily activities, it might have to be looked into. Seeking help from experts to do away with the habit might become important.
Another aspect of this habit is that others might feel annoyed by it. Therefore, many seeking help might be motivated by this. Furthermore, the act is viewed differently by others: an employer might think of the person as incompetent because of hair twirling, while others might perceive it as a flirtatious gesture.
In other cases, hair twirling might constitute compulsive behaviour whereby the person indulges in much hair pulling – a condition called trichotillomania/ chronic hair pulling. It might even result in hair loss. However, the greater concern focuses on the person’s emotional state.