A study among young Portuguese subjects showed that nomophobia, the fear of being disconnected from one’s phone, is linked to general feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, as well as to compulsive behavior.
Are you afraid of being disconnected from your phone for too long?
This could be a sign of a deeper feeling of inadequacy and inferiority and a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behavior. This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University on young Portuguese subjects. The results were published in the journal Computer in Human Behavior Reports.
The more time spent with the smartphone, the greater the stress.
The researchers studied the psychology of people suffering from nomophobia, i.e. people who are afraid of being separated from their phones. “It’s this fear, this feeling of panic, of ‘oh no, I left my phone at home’,” says Ana-Paula Correia, author of the study. The study is based on previous work by the researcher, who created a questionnaire to assess people’s dependence on their smartphones. Another questionnaire to assess psychopathological symptoms such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and feelings of inadequacy was distributed in Portugal to 495 participants aged between 18 and 24 years.
The study found that the more time they spend on the phone, the more stressed they feel when not holding their smartphones. The higher the obsessive-compulsive score of the participants, the more worried they are about being separated from their phones. This psychological characteristic was measured by asking participants to assess how much they feel they need to check and recheck what they are doing on their phones. The results showed that the volunteers spend on average between 4 and 7 hours a day on their smartphones, mainly to browse social networks.
The phone, a false tool for stress management
Researchers believe that the use of the phone affects the psychological state of the person using it. “There is a difference between the normal use of a smartphone that benefits a person’s life – for example, video calls with friends when you can’t be together in person or use it for work – and the use of a smartphone that interferes with a person’s life,” says Ana-Paula Correia. This kind of behavior tends to cause anxiety when we’re not on the phone.
People who show signs of anxiety may see phones as a way to manage their stress, which could explain why they feel, panicked when they don’t have their phones. “This concept is not limited to the phone,” says the researcher. People use their phones for other tasks, such as social networking, to make contacts and find out what’s going on with the influencers in their social network. So if they are not on the phone or have a phone with a low battery, which could somehow interrupt that connection, they may experience discomfort as a result.