People who are easily hypnotized are more likely to be addicted to their smartphones, study finds – PsyPost

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:21 pm

New research published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that being absorbed by your smartphone might bear some resemblance to a hypnotic trance. A hypnosis experiment found that students with heightened smartphone addiction scores followed more hypnotic suggestions than their counterparts.

Study authors Jay A. Olson and his team were the first to explore the relationship between smartphone addiction and hypnotisability. They propose three features that problematic smartphone use and hypnosis have in common: absorption, time distortion, and automaticity. Heavy smartphone users tend to get absorbed in their screens, lose track of time spent on their phones, and feel a loss of control when using their phones behaviors that suggest a trance-like state.

If heavy smartphone use can resemble hypnosis, Olson and colleagues say, people who are more hypnotisable may also be more prone to problematic smartphone use, in which phone use interferes with daily life.

A sample of 641 university students with an average age of 21 took part in a hypnosis experiment. Students first listened to a 45-minute audio recording designed to induce hypnosis. Next, they heard 12 verbal suggestions, for example, a suggestion that the subjects head will fall forward or that they will be momentarily unable to open their eyes. Following the 12 suggestions, subjects were led out of hypnosis and asked to complete a questionnaire asking them how many of the prompts they had followed. They then completed the Smartphone Addiction Scale to assess how much their smartphone use disrupts their normal life, which included items like, I feel impatient and fretful when I am not holding my smartphone.

Results showed a positive correlation between participants scores on the Smartphone Addiction Scale and the number of hypnotic suggestions they followed.

The authors propose two underlying psychological constructs that might explain the relationship between smartphone addiction and hypnotisability. The first is dissociation, which is when a person disengages from the sense of self or the environment. Previous research has uncovered dissociative tendencies in subjects who are easily hypnotized and also in subjects who display problematic technology use. Another construct possibly linking the two behaviors is sociality. Hypnotisability, the authors say, may be related to ones tendency to respond to social cues, and using phones for social purposes has been linked to addictive behavior.

The prevalence of problematic cell phone use was particularly high in this study. The average score for participants was 31.41, which, as the researchers report, means that 51% of the women and 39% of the men would have a high risk of phone addiction.

Since developers stand to gain more data collection and advertising revenue by keeping users engrossed in their phones, smartphone technology is likely to become still more immersive. The authors suggest this may increase users problematic behavior. To reduce automatic interactions, Olson and team suggest, behavioural interventions could reduce the salience of the phone or make it more effortful to use, for example by keeping the phone further out of reach or limiting sporadic notifications.

The study, Hypnotised by Your Phone? Smartphone Addiction Correlates With Hypnotisability, was authored by Jay A. Olson, Moriah Stendel, and Samuel Veissire.

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People who are easily hypnotized are more likely to be addicted to their smartphones, study finds - PsyPost

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