Smartphone Addiction: How It May Affect Your Thinking Skills

How smartphone addiction could be affecting some people’s ability to think.

smartphone addiction

How smartphone addiction could be affecting some people’s ability to think.

Smartphone addiction has been linked to lazy thinking by a new psychology study.

Smarter people tend to use the search function on their smartphones less often, the research has found.

Intuitive thinkers, though, who tend to be less intelligent, are more prone to searching for information on smartphones.

Gordon Pennycook, who co-led the study, said:

“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it.”

In contrast, analytical thinkers, who are generally more intelligent, search less.

Dr Nathaniel Barr, who co-led the study, said:

“Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind.”

Smartphone addiction

The research asked 660 people about their smartphone addiction.

Their verbal and literacy skills were also assessed, along with their thinking style.

The results showed that people with stronger and more analytical thinking skills used the search function on their smartphones the least.

The study is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (Barr et al., 2015).

Mr Pennycook said:

“Our research provides support for an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence.

Whether smartphones actually decrease intelligence is still an open question that requires future research.”

That said, it may be that a smartphone addiction leaves people with weaker thinking skills.

Dr Barr continued:

“Our reliance on smartphones and other devices will likely only continue to rise.

It’s important to understand how smartphones affect and relate to human psychology before these technologies are so fully ingrained that it’s hard to recall what life was like without them.

We may already be at that point.”

Smartphone user image from Shutterstock

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

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