Volume 13 No. 1 SPRING 2012

Your Cellphone Makes You Selfish

Using a cell phone—even thinking about using a cell phone—makes you more selfish, according to a series of studies from Rosallina Ferraro and Anastasiya Pocheptsova, both assistant professors of marketing.

In the experiments, some participants used their cellphones for a few minutes and others used a toy, and then asked how much they would have to be paid to participate in a second study. In another study, participants used their cell phones or Facebook for three minutes, and were then told that a local charity was looking for help and asked if they would be willing to volunteer. In both studies, those who used their cell phones were more self-focused and less likely to offer their time to help others.

This self-centered point of view held true even when participants were merely asked to draw a picture of their cellphones and think about how they used them.

“Cellphones seem to function as a part of you, as an extension of yourself,” says Ferraro. “In many ways it’s like a physical extension as well as a psychological extension of who you are, more so than Facebook or other programs you might use.”

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