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NextGen Magazine


Study: Just Because You're Not Looking at Your Phone Doesn't Mean It's Not a Big Ol' Distraction

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 23, 2015
LinkedIn MobileInstead of just putting your phone on vibrate, maybe it would be best to just put it in a drawer and forget about it: according to a recent study, just knowing you have a notification on your phone, even if you don't check to see what it is, can still be a productivity-disrupting distraction, according to the Harvard Business Review. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, took 212 undergrads and gave them each a test that measured their ability to focus on one task without getting distracted. After 10 minutes, the students were separated into three groups: one third got text messages as they did the test again, one third got phone calls, and one third got neither. Of the students who got either texts or calls, the researchers excluded those who actually took out their phones to interact with them: they were only interested in how knowledge of a notification affects concentration. What the researchers found, ultimately, was that students who got phone calls made errors 28 percent of the time, the ones who got tests made errors 23 percent of the time, and the ones who got neither made errors 7 percent of the time. This, researchers believe, shows that just knowing you have something awaiting your attention on your phone can be a distraction that impairs performance on tasks that require concentration. With this in mind, the researchers recommended putting phones on silent instead of vibrate, or simply hide it away altogether.