Woman using mobile phone at cafe

Phone attachment makes you more impulsive

Reports are that in the Australian market more than 5.2 million people have a mobile phone. On trains, in the park, even at work you will see people glancing down at their screen. Of course, some people are more likely to be checking out their phone than others, and new research has confirmed that those habitual phone users share a personality trait.

The results showed that people who tend to constantly check their phones throughout the day are less able to delay gratification than people who check them less frequently.

The new study involved subjects answering a series of questions and taking cognitive tests. Subjects indicated how much time they spent using their phones for social media purposes, to post public status updates or simply to check their device. They were also given tests to establish their “inter-temporal preference”: their willingness or otherwise to delay gratification for larger rewards. This was simply tested by offering smaller sums of money immediately or larger sums if they were prepared to wait. All of the subjects also were given tests that assessed their ability to control their impulses. The subject’s tendency to pursue rewarding stimuli was also assessed.

The results showed that people who tend to constantly check their phones throughout the day are less able to delay gratification than people who check them less frequently. They also tended to be people who displayed poor impulse control and a tendency to devalue delayed rewards.

This is important news for marketers, sadly, but it may also provide important guidance for future research into potential problems associated with heavy use of mobile phones.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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