Is Your Smartphone Lowering Your Ability to Think?

smartphones affect our thinking

Critics of modern technology often like to point out how our smartphones have alienated us and affected our intelligence. Recent studies seem to provide some evidence for these claims. In fact, according to one recent study, it’s enough just to have a smartphone in the room for it to affect your ability to think.

So, let’s see how smartphones affect our thinking.

Research on Smartphones and Cognitive Abilities

An interesting report by the University of Texas at Austin published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research explored how smartphones affect our cognitive abilities. The scientists tested the participants’ fluid intelligence in different scenarios – with their phones in their pockets, on the table in front of them, or out of the room.

The results were astonishing – the participants whose phones were out of the room performed the best. The ones who had their phones in their pockets came second, while the group that had their phones on the table did worst. Interestingly enough, the results were the same even with the phones turned off.

Why Does This Happen?

So, why do smartphones affect our thinking? Research shows that we automatically pay attention to something we find habitually important. For example, a parent will always react to a baby’s cry.

By that same token, our smartphones’ very presence distracts us and has a similar effect to hearing a baby’s cry or someone calling your name. In an effort to block the urge to grab our phone, we can undermine our cognitive abilities.


Although scientists still aren’t sure how smartphones affect our thinking, we can safely say that they pose a distraction. So, if you want to maximize your productivity, it’s best to leave your smartphone in the next room.

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