Researchers at Harvard Business School have found that small mobile devices which close off your posture to the world also close your attention, weakening your ability to engage the world around you. In an experiment, “researchers paid 75 participants to use one of a range of devices–iPod Touch (a handy iPhone stand-in), iPad, laptop, and desktop–to play the same gambling game.” The researcher monitoring them then said: “I will get some forms ready for you to sign so I can pay you and you can leave. If I am not here in five minutes, please come get me at the front desk.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The real aim of the experiment was to time which individuals took the longest to find the wandering experimenter and determine if waiting time correlated to device used. “94% of the desktop users worked up the nerve to leave the room, while only 50% of the Touch users gave chase. In a fit of device-behavior parallelism, the larger (and more expansive posture-promoting) the device a person used, the more quickly they sought out the experimenter. As HBS Working Knowledge writer Carmen Nobel notes, desktop users waited 341 seconds before grabbing the experimenter, Touch users waited an average of 493 seconds.”
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