Cellphone use is ubiquitous and new research shows it may be socially contagious, too. People are more likely to pull out their phones to check their text messages or email if they’re with someone who has just done the same, the study found.
Researchers at the University of Michigan watched students in dining halls and coffee shops around campus between January and April 2011. They unobtrusively observed pairs of students sitting at tables for as long as 20 minutes and documented their cellphone use at 10-second intervals.
Overall, the students used their cellphones in an average of 24 percent of the intervals, the researchers found. But they were significantly more likely to use their phones (39.5 percent) when their companion had just done so in the previous 10-second interval, the researchers said, adding that this behavior was often repeated.