In what has to be one of the most questionable uses of research money EVAH, a recent study determined that (Surprise! Surprise!) people who spend a lot of time on their cell phones tend to be self absorbed and narcissistic. Gee, who'd have thunk? Here is Science Daily with the details:
Though cellphones are usually considered devices that connect people, they may make users less socially minded, finds a recent study from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.Maybe I'm more sensitive to this issue because I take public transportation to work every day and see a large percentage of my fellow riders who spend the whole trip twiddling with their phones. They actually resemble zombies to me, so transfixed and unaware of their surroundings do they usually look. As I wrote yesterday about the Internet helping to destroy people's attention spans, you really have to wonder how much these devices are contributing to the rapid coarsening of our politics and the overall dumbing down of our culture, to say nothing of the obvious erosion of empathy on the part of a large percentage of the population.
Marketing professors Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Rosellina Ferraro, with graduate student, Ajay T. Abraham, conducted a series of experiments on test groups of cellphone users. The findings appear in their working paper, "The Effect of Mobile Phone Use on Prosocial Behavior."
Prosocial behavior, as defined in the study, is action intended to benefit another person or society as a whole.
The researchers found that after a short period of cellphone use the subjects were less inclined to volunteer for a community service activity when asked, compared to the control-group counterparts. The cell phone users were also less persistent in solving word problems -- even though they knew their answers would translate to a monetary donation to charity.
The decreased focus on others held true even when participants were merely asked to draw a picture of their cellphones and think about how they used them.
The study involved separate sets of college student subjects -- both men and women and generally in their early 20s. "We would expect a similar pattern of effects with people from other age groups," said Ferraro. "Given the increasing pervasiveness of cellphones, it does have the potential to have broad social implications."
Bonus: This was one of the funniest videos to appear on You Tube in recent years