People who frequently check and re-check their smartphone are driven most strongly by uncontrolled impulses and are less apt in delaying gratification, says a study.
Psychologists Henry Wilmer and Jason Chein from Temple University in the US carried out the study to develop better understanding of the impact of smartphone and mobile technology usage to assess the potential problems associated with heavy use.
The researchers gave 91 undergraduate students a battery of questionnaires and cognitive tests. They indicated how much time they spent using their phones for social media purposes, to post status updates and to simply check their devices.
Each student's tendency to delay gratification in favour of larger, later rewards was also assessed. They were given hypothetical choices between a smaller sum of money offered immediately or a larger sum to be received at a later time.
The results, published in Springer's journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review2, provided evidence that people who constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day are less apt to delay gratification.
"Mobile technology habits, such as frequent checking, seem to be driven most strongly by uncontrolled impulses and not by the desire to pursue rewards," Wilmer noted. The findings provide evidence that increased use of portable electronic devices is associated with poor impulse control and a tendency to devalue delayed rewards.
"The findings provide important insights regarding the individual difference factors that relate to technology engagement," Chein said. "These findings are consistent with the common perception that frequent smartphone use goes hand in hand with impatience and impulsivity," he added.