Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pavlov's Smart Phone?

I read a tweet the other day which stated that 67% of people with cellphones or smartphones will compulsively check for messages even when the device does not inform them that a message has come in.  I did some research and found that there was a study about cell and smart phone usage.  The Pew Research Center came out with an article about the subject of Mobile phone usage.

That article and statistic brought to mind Pavlov's dog.  Doing a simple search I found this article about Pavlov's experiments.  In that article it states:

"... when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learnt to associate with food (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response, he realized that he had made an important scientific discovery, and he devoted the rest of his career to studying this type of learning."

Can we take this research and plug in what we know about mobile device usage?

Lets just take the dog out of the equation and add a human.  Instead of food we will use cellphones.

.. when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the humans learnt to associate with Cellphones (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response, he realized that he had made an important scientific discovery, and he devoted the rest of his career to studying this type of learning."

Makes sense in the fact that when a message is received a cell or smart phone will ping.  The ping will instantly generate a response from the human since they have learnt that the ping means message.  Eventually just the sight of the phone will illicit the same response, ping or no ping.

In order to test this theory, we would need to have a gathering of people who are carrying phones.  Perhaps a restaurant or seminar.  Then just have a pinger in your pocket.  Generate a false ping and watch to see who checks their phones.  I hypothesis that we would get a 67% rate of people checking their phone.

In conclusion, we can equate mobile device carriers to regular dogs being no smarter and simply motivated by unconditional stimulus.  Hence the reason people will drive and text.

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