We’ve all experienced the phantom phone alert: the sensation that your phone has buzzed or pinged with a message or notification when it hasn’t.
Now, scientists are warning that if you’re regularly struck by the curse, you might be addicted to your smartphone, and it could be an indicator of neurosis.
“When people have addictions, there’s a phenomenon in which they are hypersensitive to stimuli associated with a rewarding stimulus,” said Daniel Kruger, a research scientist at the University of Michigan.
“[Our] study provides some real insight and maybe some evidence that people can have a real dependency on cell phone use,” Kruger added.
Kruger and Michigan student Jaikob Djerf asked nearly 800 undergraduates to perform a personality test which assessed their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability.
They also asked how often they experienced the phantom alerts, whether they used their phones to make themselves feel better and talk to others when feeling isolated, and if they felt anxious when they turned off their phone.
Kruger revealed that people who scored as more conscientious and emotionally stable had lower phone dependency symptoms. Women were also more likely to report high dependency symptoms.
The research scientist added: “I think these findings are something that can inform the discussion—and certainly, it pushes in the direction of saying, ‘Hey, whether you want to call it dependency or addiction, it’s real, it’s important, and we should be paying attention to this.”