Cellphones as a Modern Irritant
New York Times -- If you have just read the same paragraph 12 times because the person sitting next to you on the bus is chatting on her cellphone, feel free to show her this: scientists have found another piece of evidence that overheard cellphone conversations are far more distracting and annoying than a dialogue between two people nearby.
In a study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, college students who were asked to complete anagrams while a nearby researcher talked on her cellphone were more irritated and distracted — and far more likely to remember the contents of the conversation — than students who worked on the same puzzles while the same conversation was conducted by two people in the room.
The study is the latest in a growing body of research on why cellphones rank so high on the list of modern irritants. Mounting evidence suggests that the habits encouraged by mobile technology — namely, talking in public to someone who is not there — are tailor made for hijacking the cognitive functions of bystanders.
One reason, said Veronica V. Galván, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of San Diego and the lead author of the study, is the brain’s desire to fill in the blanks. (Full Story)