Cellphone Use Linked To Selfish Behavior

Photo: Ed Poor (CC)

Photo: Ed Poor (CC)

From ScienceDaily:

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.

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.”…

[continues at ScienceDaily

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8 Responses to Cellphone Use Linked To Selfish Behavior

  1. Nunzio X February 15, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    I think machine-enabled autism / isolationism began with air conditioning, which enabled people to stay inside on hot days instead of retreating to the relative comfort of the porch, along with others in the neighborhood doing the same thing.

    With the invention of the Walkman, people were able to isolate themselves even while in public; the earphones clearly signal an “I’m busy right now—do not disturb” vibe.

    Smart phones take it a step further. I was at a musical event recently, sitting in the balcony. During intermission I looked down at the audience on the floor and saw hundreds of glowing screens—people couldn’t sit there for FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES without checking their Facebook page, email, or whatever.

    I’m no Luddite; just seems that technology is a knife that cuts both ways. It can empower the individual while simultaneously isolating him from actual human interaction.

  2. Science Grad Student February 15, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

    • Andrew February 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Fair enough, but they did have a control group.

    • Kozz February 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Hey I have an idea, let’s all post messages using a dead language that no one uses in a feeble attempt at making ourselves feel superior.  On top of this, let’s make sure that the message isn’t even relevant to what the article is saying!

  3. Tchoutoye February 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Ludditism is one of the biggest taboos of the Modern era (a.k.a. the Faustian era).
    People are more comfortable confessing their sexual fantasies than coming to terms with the negative impact technology has on their lives and the planet’s ecosystem.

    • Kozz February 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      That being said, any disadvantages that technological progress brings can also be reversed or cancelled out by other and/or improved technology, e.g., moving from coal power to solar power.  

  4. Justin Mitchell February 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I always wondered where my tax money spent on grants was being used. Thank goodness we have scientists to make these important discoveries. I want to know how much those ‘tests’ cost them, lol.

    • Andrew February 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

       It’s just money.

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