Research by Assistant Professor Veronica Galvan, PhD, Suggests Cell Phones Are Distracting

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In this study, participants either overheard a one-sided (cell phone) conversation or a typical (two-sided) conversation. Participants only overheard the conversation one time and were unaware that the conversation was part of the study. Galvan et al. were hoping to capture a 'natural' reaction to the different kinds of background conversation. Results revealed that participants who overheard the one-sided conversation found the conversation more distracting and annoying. They also remembered more words from the conversation and were more confident in some of their answers on a surprise memory test. This is the first study to use a 'naturalistic' situation to show that overhearing a cell phone conversation is a uniquely intrusive and memorable event.

Galvan, along with a team of undergraduate researchers, created the design, ran participants, and wrote the paper together. Galvan notes, “We're really excited that our research study was on the front page of, as well as the front pages of,,, and (the website for the MythBusters duo). It was also reported in Forbes, US NEWS and World Report, and WebMD, and has now made it's way to health websites, hospital newsletters, a law firm newsletter, as well as business websites and also tech websites... and science blogs… and also a few celebrity gossip websites...”

The study has also gone global. Galvan has done radio interviews with the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (and a live web interview with The study has been reported in 29 countries, on 6 continents, including Australia, Vietnam, Greece, Albania, Spain, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany, France, India, South Africa, the Philippines, Russia, Malaysia, and the Arab Emirates. She concludes, “Our undergraduate team is continuing this research and we look forward to seeing where the data take us.”

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Veronica Galvan, PhD, is assistant professor in USD's Department of Psychological Sciences.

Pictured Above - (Top photo, from left to right) Amanda Lefevre, Shahrzad Sadrpour, Cynthia Smoot, Veronica Galvan. (Bottom photo, from left to right) Veronica Galvan, Ankita Dhar, Jennie Kuckertz, April May, Maddie Buchanan, Allison Wray, Alexis Sellett, Spenser Leveritt.

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