iPhone, Ergo Sum

iPhones and their fans become bonded.

For millions of Apple admirers, recent MU research indicating that “iPhone separation” can trigger anxiety is hardly news. But the extent to which such separations affect us may give even the most ardent iOS fan pause.

“Our study,” says lead author Russell Clayton, a former MU doctoral student who is now an assistant professor of communication at Florida State University, “suggests 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.” There are also physiological symptoms, the researchers found, including increased heart rates, higher blood pressure levels, greater feelings of unease, and diminished puzzle-solving performance.

So what’s an iPhone addict to do? Kick the habit by self-imposing a period of device deprivation? Bad idea, Clayton and his collaborators say, at least when important duties are on the line. They instead recommend that iPhone users avoid parting with their phones during situations that involve close attention, such as test taking, conference participation, or crucial work assignments, as it could result in poorer cognitive performance on those tasks. The study was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Art by Blake Dinsdale

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