Doing Life Together

ID-10066530The other day I was running late for a meeting. As I rushed to the meeting, I suddenly realized I left my iPhone on my desk. For a moment, I panicked. Should I excuse myself and go back and get it? If I do, I will miss part of the meeting. If I don’t… well, I might suffer from iPhone separation.

Go ahead and laugh, but researchers took a look at what happens to people when they are separated from their iPhones. Are iPhones such an extension of our identity that separation can have negative effects?

Researchers studied the psychological and physiological effects of cell phone separation. When it came to how people performed on cognitive tests, cell phone separation made a difference.

In the study, participants were asked to complete a word search word puzzle with or without their iPhones next to them. Their heart rates and blood pressure were monitored. They also reported their anxiety levels during the task. One group could hear their phones ringing during the task, but couldn’t answer them because they were out of reach.

Those who could hear their phones ring but couldn’t answer them, reported more anxiety. And their performance on the cognitive task (the puzzle) decreased when they were not in possession of their phones.

The take away–Cell phone separation may increase your anxiety and decrease your performance on cognitive tests. When we see these phones as extensions of ourselves , we may experience negative effects when we are separated.

Hmmm….I probably should have gone back for my phone!


Source: Clayton, Leshner and Almond’s study, “The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology,” the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

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