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Study Shows That Using Cell Phones Makes Us Act Selfishly

We've probably all sat across from someone constantly checking their email and updating their Twitter and thought, "This person is pretty selfish." However, it seems that cell phones may actually cause us to be less conscious of others. A recent study conducted by the University of Maryland has linked selfish behavior and cell phone usage.

The results of the study, dubbed The Effect of Mobile Phone Use on Prosocial Behavior, show that cell phones could make users less socially minded. Marketing professors Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Rosellina Ferraro, along with graduate student Ajay T. Abraham, conducted a series of experiments on test groups of cell phone users. The experiments showed that, after a short period of cell phone use, the subjects were less inclined to volunteer for a community service activity when asked, compared to the control-group counterparts. The cell phone users were also less persistent in solving word problems, even though they knew their answers would result in money being donated to charity. Apparently just asking the cell phone users to draw a picture of their phone was enough to generate a decreased focus on others.

So, why does using our cell phone make us more self-centered? Well, according to the author of the study, using our phones offers a sense of connectivity to others. (No surprise, considering the multitude of ways they allow us to get in touch with others.) This alone seems to be strong enough that when the opportunity to engage in real life arises, we're not really interested.

"The cellphone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong," said the authors of the study.

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(Man with phone image via Shutterstock)