Mar 05, 2015 11:20 AM EST
Smartphones May Be Linked To Lazy Thinking
The convenience of having a smartphone at your fingertips could be making it easy for you to avoid thinking for yourself, according to a recent study.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers - more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions -- frequently use their device's search engine rather than their own brainpower. These mobile devices allow them to be even lazier than they would otherwise be.
"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," Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, said in a statement.
In the three studies involving 660 participants, the researchers examined various measures including cognitive style ranging from intuitive to analytical, plus verbal and numeracy skills. Then they looked at the participants' smartphone habits.
Participants in the study who demonstrated stronger cognitive skills and a greater willingness to think in an analytical way spent less time using their smartphones' search-engine function.
"Our research provides support for an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence," Pennycook said. "Whether smartphones actually decrease intelligence is still an open question that requires future research."
The researchers say that avoiding using our own minds to problem-solve might have adverse consequences for aging.
"Our reliance on smartphones and other devices will likely only continue to rise," researcher Nathaniel Barr said in a statement. "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."
The results also indicate that use of social media and entertainment applications generally did not correlate to higher or lower cognitive abilities.
The findings are detailed in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
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