Photo: Flickr, CC / Kai Hendry
The more you use your mobile phone, the less likely you are to care about other people, new research from University of Maryland has found.And the research isn’t just talking about annoying social behaviour like texting while on a date, or talking on the phone in a movie theatre.
The researchers found that after their subjects spent some time using their cell phones, they were less likely to volunteer for community service than those in the control groups who had not used their phones. Cell phone users were also less determined to solve word problems even though they knew that their answers would lead to a monetary donation to charity.
If that wasn’t weird enough, these selfish inclinations could be prolonged merely by asking cell phone users to draw a picture of their mobiles and think about how they used them.
The researchers concluded that a mobile phone is like a surrogate friend.
“The mobile phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong,” the researchers explained. By scratching that itch, people are less motivated “to connect with others or to engage in empathic and prosocial behaviour,” they said.
So there you have it. Turn the mobile off and you’ll be a nicer person.