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Friday, March 27, 2015

The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking

By Nathaniel Barr, Gordon Pennycook, Jennifer Stolz, & Jonathan Fugelsang
Computers in Human Behavior
Volume 48, July 2015, Pages 473–480


With the advent of Smartphone technology, access to the internet and its associated knowledge base is at one’s fingertips. What consequences does this have for human cognition? We frame Smartphone use as an instantiation of the extended mind—the notion that our cognition goes beyond our brains—and in so doing, characterize a modern form of cognitive miserliness. Specifically, that people typically forego effortful analytic thinking in lieu of fast and easy intuition suggests that individuals may allow their Smartphones to do their thinking for them. Our account predicts that individuals who are relatively less willing and/or able to engage effortful reasoning processes may compensate by relying on the internet through their Smartphones. Across three studies, we find that those who think more intuitively and less analytically when given reasoning problems were more likely to rely on their Smartphones (i.e., extended mind) for information in their everyday lives. There was no such association with the amount of time using the Smartphone for social media and entertainment purposes, nor did boredom proneness qualify any of our results. These findings demonstrate that people may offload thinking to technology, which in turn demands that psychological science understand the meshing of mind and media to adequately characterize human experience and cognition in the modern era.

The research article is here.