A new study published by the journal of Addictive Behaviors suggests that smartphones can be more reinforcing than food for college students. College students prefer to be deprived of food over parting with their smartphones.
The study was conducted with 76 college students ranging from 18 to 22 years of age. They had no access to food for three hours and no access to their smartphones for two hours, and during that time, they either studied or read newspapers.
After that, the students had to perform a computer task to earn either the use of their smartphones or a 100-calorie servings of their favourite snack food. As the smartphone time or food was earned, the amount of work required to earn either one of them increased. The researchers then measured the smartphone reinforcement in two ways.
The first one was a hypothetical questionnaire that asked how many minutes of smartphone use would an individual purchase at the increasing prices. The second one was a behavioural index of reinforcement that would measure the amount of work (i.e. the number of clicks using a mouse) an individual would agree to do to get to use their phone, where the number of clicks needed to use the phone increased as time passed.
O'Donnell, one of the researchers, said, "We knew that students would be motivated to gain access to their smartphones, but we were surprised that despite modest food deprivation, smartphone reinforcement far exceeded food reinforcement across both methodologies" reports The New Indian Express.
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