People Who Talk A Lot Tend To Talk A Lot... And Other Useless Findings
By Mike Masnick, Fri Mar 11 02:30:00 GMT 2005

When a new technology catches on, it always seems like researchers rush out to study the deeper meaning behind what's happening. The results can be a bit underwhelming, but the implications of the studies can be quite misleading.


It's probably a natural human instinct to try to search out the deeper meaning in things. That leads to all sorts of studies that often come back with fairly uninspiring results. For example, Textually.org has found the results of a study suggesting that people who feel they can't live without their mobile phones tend to be either (a) extroverts or (b) those with low self-esteem. There's no indication from the article what percentage qualifies for both.

This comes just a few months after another study saying that some people honestly felt they could not live without their mobile phones. While these studies do show just how important mobile phones have become socially, they also seem to reinforce the idea that there's something bad about actually using your mobile phone to communicate.

The findings of this study, for example, don't really tell us much at all. The people who tend to use their phones to communicate a lot are exactly the types of people you would expect to use their phones a lot: those with a lot of friends or those who need the constant reinforcement of their friends. However, the positioning of the study suggests that this is an indicator of a problem. It's sectioning off those who use their phones a lot and suggesting that's obviously a bad thing, and that these people have psychological issues to work out.

This is also common of studies around new technologies, where the fact that people really do find them useful always seems to open up an opportunity for some psychologist to declare that people are "addicted" to the new technology -- and, quite often, at the same time open up a practice to help people kick this addiction. While it's true that some people may have problems at the extreme, immediately lumping in those who use a technology a lot as having a problem seems to diminish from the idea that maybe the technology is really just very useful. The issue with addiction isn't the fact that people use something quite a lot -- but that it becomes a destructive force in their lives. However, by throwing out the idea that people are "addicted" to mobile phones, it makes everyone think that this is, by definition, a bad thing -- and makes some people more fearful of really using mobile phones to get the most out of them.