From the Lab: Put Away Your Phone (Redux)

Previously, I’ve written about the negative effects of cell phones on interpersonal communication, and advised that while speaking, you should put your phone away.

According to a new study at UT Austin, there are even more reasons to do this: in addition to harming relationship quality, trust, and empathy, having your cell phone nearby can reduce working memory and intelligence.

The following graphs illustrate the effect. Compared to having your cell phone in the other room, simply having it on the desk in front of you can reduce your working memory capacity by an astounding 10%, and your fluid intelligence by 5%. In the case of working memory, just having your phone in your pocket or bag can have a significant negative effect as well (though in the case of intelligence, the effect is no longer significant). So whenever you’re presenting (or doing anything important), be sure to put that phone away!

Leave a Reply