Ever check your pocket or purse after feeling your phone vibrate only to see that there wasn't actually a notification? You swear you just felt it, right? Turns out you're not the only one, and the surprising reason could be linked to how attached you are to people in real life.
A study conducted by University of Michigan researchers looked into this phantom phone vibration phenomenon and found that those who are insecure about friendships and relationships are more likely to experience this sensitivity.
To come to this conclusion, researchers created an online survey to explore 411 participants' level of attachment anxiety or attachment avoidance (distancing oneself from others). They used two personality scales, one being the "big five" — which looked at traits of "openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and extraversion." The other scale is the "dark triad," which are traits of "narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy." Volunteers with greater anxiety were 18 percent more likely to experience phantom notifications.
The study also looked at three types of sensations someone feels: ringing, buzzing, and notification. Among these three, vibration was most commonly imagined. The researchers believe this is possibly attributed to the "ambiguity of the stimulus." Visuals are harder to imagine than sounds or touch.
Considering we live in a digital age where affirmation is continuously sought and given through social media, it's no surprise how dependent we've become on our phones. "In one way, [cell phones are] a practical device," said Daniel Kruger, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, to The Michigan Daily. "You can get information, you can find out where the bus is, you can read the news. But it's also your connection to social world, with Facebook, Twitter, the other different social media applications and websites."
Our phones, whether we like it or not, have become seamlessly connected to our personal lives, resulting in subconscious cravings for reassurance from others. Next time you find yourself reaching for your cell without reason, consider going on a digital detox.
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