Author Nicholas DeRenzo
You may have suspected as much, but you and your smartphone are in a pretty ugly codependent relationship. In a study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, lead author Russell Clayton, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, suggests that we’re so attached to our iPhones that being away from them can cause a form of separation anxiety with real-world physiological and cognitive consequences. To test this theory, researchers hooked volunteers up to wireless blood pressure cuffs and had them complete a word-search puzzle while near their iPhones. (Participants were told they were testing the reliability of the cuffs.) Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded, and the volunteers reported their anxiety levels. After the first round, they were told that their iPhones were causing Bluetooth interference with the cuffs and had to be placed on the other side of the room and not answered. When the subjects resumed puzzle-solving, the phones were called. During this round, heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety all rose, and word-search ability plummeted. As Clayton puts it: “The results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of ourselves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.” Losing your phone, in a sense, is tantamount to losing your head.