Cellphones have become the common way of communicating to one another and are being used on a daily basis. Smartphones in particular have become so integrated into our lives. Studies have investigated the impact of cellphone usage and more specifically what happens to people when they are separated from their precious phones.
Research undergone by the University of Missouri found that separation from ones cellphone can have serious psychological and physiological effects on their users that include very poor performance on cognitive tests.
The study involved iPhone users to sit at a computer cubicle within a media psychology lab. The researchers told these participants that they were testing the reliability of a new wireless blood pressure cuff. They had to complete a word search puzzle first with their iPhone’s in their possession and a second without their iPhone’s or vice versa.
While completing the first of the puzzles the heart rates and blood pressure responses of participants were monitored. Afterwards participants reported on their levels of anxiety and how unpleasant or pleasant they felt during the puzzle. They were then told that their iPhones were causing “Bluetooth interference” with the new wireless blood pressure cuff and needed to be moved further away in the room for the next puzzle. While they were doing the next word search puzzle the researchers called their iPhones. After they finished ringing, researchers then collected blood pressure and heart rates of the participants. They then reported levels of anxiety and how they felt during the puzzle.
The results show that participants had more increased levels of anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure and a significant decrease in puzzle performance when they were separated from their iPhones as compared to when they completed similar word search puzzles with their iPhones.
“Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks,” says Russell Clayton, lead author of the study. “Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state, which can be seen as cellphone separation anxiety.”
When participants aren’t able to answer their ringing iPhone while solving the simple test their feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness increases and their cognitive functioning decreases and they do bad on the puzzle. Researchers suggest that iPhone users should not part from their phone during daily situations which include a great deal of attention like taking a test or sitting in a meeting as it could result in poor cognitive performance on those tasks.