What's the Latest Development?

A study recently published in PLOS ONE described how volunteers were asked to complete a simple word puzzle while one of two types of conversations -- a person talking on a cell phone or two people talking together face to face -- was going on. The University of San Diego researchers found that those who overheard the cell phone conversation were far more distracted by it. "They also remembered more words and content from the cellphone discussions than they did from two-sided conversations and made fewer errors recognizing which words were part of the phone call." 

What's the Big Idea?

Cell phones aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and yet researcher Veronica Galván says that according to surveys, "up to 82 percent of people [find cell phone conversations annoying]....This is the first study to use a realistic situation to show that overhearing a cellphone conversation is a uniquely intrusive and memorable event." Unpredictability and lack of context are key factors, as past research has shown. The team now intends to look at whether different types of tasks are compromised by eavesdropping on cell phone calls.

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