When is it OK to answer your phone? We want to know your thoughts...

Dr Martin Graff, Reader in Psychology, Head of Research in Psychology

Dr Martin Graff

YOUR phone vibrates in your pocket to tell you that a text message has arrived, but you’re crossing the road and checking the update could put your life in danger.

You’re stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the work and the phone rings. You can see it’s the office, but you haven’t got hands-free – do you answer?

These are just some of the scenarios that psychology experts at the University of South Wales (USW) are looking into to understand why people rely so much on their mobile phones.

By looking at a wide range of everyday events, the USW research team is aiming to discover more about why people are willing to look at their mobiles at inappropriate times. 

The survey includes questions about phone use while walking along a busy street or cycling, at family  events such as a funeral or a special meal in a restaurant, watching films at home with the children or in the cinema, while in important work meetings, or while driving the car or filling it up with fuel.

Dr Martin Graff, who is head of research in USW’s psychologydepartment, explained why the survey is being carried out.

“We all know people who find it impossible to ignore their phones, or who have no qualms about staring at the screen at what can be the most inappropriate times,” he said.

“What we hope to discover is what difference outside influences may have on them.

“Obviously it’s wrong to use the phone when it’s illegal, for instance when driving or when filling the car up with fuel, but people still do that.

“Where it becomes a grey area is when it can be seen as anti-social by some people – looking at a phone during a funeral, or when there’s important family events happening – and we are keen to know why phone users are unable to suppress the need to check for updates.”   

There’s a theory as to why people can’t ignore the alerts from their phones.

“The hypothesis is that inappropriate use will be related to what is called attachment style, which we develop as infants,” Dr Graff said. “People become attached to their phones in the same way.

“What we are looking for is some data that that may have real-world practical uses in terms of predicting phone use at inappropriate times.” 

To take part in the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X33KCMV

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