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While you may think most of the things we write about here are on litigation advocacy (and you would be correct) we also care about you, dear reader.

We have written often about smartphones and their ubiquitous presence in our lives. This is a post to update you on the increasingly cruel reality of the role smartphones play in our emotional experiences, how they accentuate our personality traits, and the ways they affect our work lives.

Excessive smart phone use leads to emotional problems

This finding stems from research at SUNY Binghamton where they found smartphone use could result in “depression, social isolation, social anxiety, shyness, impulsivity and low self-esteem. Females were most likely to exhibit susceptibility to addiction.” The researchers surveyed 182 undergraduate students by asking them questions about their smartphone use on a typical day. They then categorized the respondents based on their answers into the following categories: Thoughtful, Regular, Highly Engaged, Fanatic and Addict.

If you wonder how they developed these categories and why the labels sound judgmental—the researchers answer that question this way: “building on the analysis of 15 in-depth interviews and 182 exploratory open-ended surveys collected from smartphone users, we apply the concept of liability to addiction in the IT use context and propose a typological theory of user liability to IT addiction. Our typology reveals five ideal types; each can be associated to a user profile (ADDICT, FANATIC, HIGHLY ENGAGED, REGULAR AND THOUGHTFUL).”

[Essentially, what this means is they made it up. And as to why some of the labels seem judgmental—we will leave that for you to ponder.]

The reported findings will not surprise you if you own a smartphone. “Seven percent [of the participants were] identified [by the researchers] as “addicts” and 12 percent [were labeled by the researchers] as “fanatics.” Both groups [based on the researchers qualitative analysis] experience personal, social and workplace problems due to a compulsive need to be on their smartphones.”

You may also want to check out a brief list of “problem signs” in smartphone use which (the researchers say) may mean you need to consult “a professional”.

In addition to the emotional issues above, there is also concern about whether smartphones are (in combination with increased overall “screen time” reducing our social skills and causing increased shyness. The short answer, at least from these authors, is that we remain simultaneously shy and sociable and our smartphones allow new ways for us express that juxtaposition. [It is possible, based on the other entries in this post, that the authors with this pleasant explanation on shyness actually works for the smartphone industry.]

Smart phones are sneakily changing our morals

How you respond to an ethical dilemma requiring a quick decision (on something in either your work or home life where the stakes are high but the time frame for response is short) seems to depend on whether you are communicating your response on a smartphone or on a computer with a traditional keyboard. [This is so not good.] This study is out of London and was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Tom Jacobs (an always excellent writer over at PSMag) brought this article to our attention and he quotes the authors and then offers his own interpretation of their work:

“in general, more hurried or time-pressured responses are thought to be aligned with more emotional/gut feeling decisions.”

In other words, when we’re rushed, we tend to rely on our intuitive responses, which—in the case of moral questions—means falling back onto a set of basic rules we learned in childhood. But, oddly, Barque-Duran and his colleagues found that is not the case when the troubling information is conveyed via smartphone.

Instead, what the researchers found when the information was conveyed via smartphone screens, was that rather than falling back on our playground values, the small screen somehow encourages us to psychologically distance and to make practical or utilitarian decisions rather than emotional and intuitive ones. The researchers say the small screen seems to result in psychological distance and thus decisions are less emotionally based.

Regardless of how it works, we clearly need more research on how the ever-present small screens interact with how we make decisions.

There is some good news though!

The interruptibility model: Researchers are looking into ways to help us teach our smartphones when to interrupt us with notifications so we can actually get some work done. New research findings which shockingly report that “inappropriate or untimely smartphone interruptions annoy users, decrease productivity and affect emotions” is being presented this month at the “premier international conference on human-computer interactions”. The researchers refer to it as an “interruptibility model” and you can view their graphical representation here. Hopefully, it will not take them long to disseminate their results to the rest of us!

Lessons from research: There are also ways we can decrease our addictive (aka constant, obsessive, ritualistic) use of smartphones and you can see those results here. Be forewarned: the recommendations involve suggestions like keeping your phone out of reach, turning off the sound, and classifying your apps as good or evil.

Older adults are adopting technology: Finally! A record share (42%) of senior citizens (65+) now own smartphones. While this may mean Grandma may not look at you but instead, text her friends furiously and update her Facebook status constantly, it also means, older Americans are likely to develop the same ambivalence with which many of us view our smartphones.

Barque-Duran, A., Pothos, E., Hampton, J., & Yearsley, J. (2017). Contemporary morality: Moral judgments in digital contexts. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 184-193 DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2017.05.020

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It is very cold outdoors (even in Texas) and it is time once again for a number of important things we decided did not merit an entire post but wanted to share. Think of it as a series of holiday gifts for you…

Ever wonder why white-collar criminals did what they did? 

Wonder no more. The Atlantic has an article by a writer who spent much of the last seven years trying to sort out why respected executives would choose to engage in fraud, embezzlement, bribery and/or insider trading. It is a fascinating read although these are not redemption stories and here’s a shocker: there are liars among those white-collar prisoners! If you wonder how these former executives weighed the costs and benefits of illegal activities—the answer is, mostly they did not. They simply did not think of consequences. The author concludes with a quote that may make you blink a few times:

“What we all think is, ‘When the big moral challenge comes, I will rise to the occasion’, but there’s not actually that many of us that will actually rise to the occasion,” as one former CFO put it. “I didn’t realize I would be a felon.”

Scientists can predict what sort of iPhone you own based on individual characteristics

At least they think they can. According to a Science Daily write-up of the article, iPhone users are more likely to be: younger, more than twice as likely to be women, more likely to see their phone as a status object, more extraverted, and less concerned about owning devices favored by most people. In contrast, Android users were more likely to be: male, older, more honest, more agreeable, less likely to break rules for personal gain, and less interested in wealth and status.

Good to know—I guess those white-collar criminals were non-traditional iPhone users. You can review the entire text of this paper (free) online. We aren’t validating or endorsing their findings, we’re just your humble messengers.

Raise your salary with this negotiation strategy: A dumb joke (which is not really what this strategy is)

Back in 2011, we blogged about research on how to negotiate a higher income. Now the Science of Us blog has resurrected that article and instead of calling the effect the generally accepted “anchoring effect” they apparently decided that they would reinterpret that finding as “you can tell a dumb joke” [i.e., “I want a million dollar salary”] and raise your salary in negotiations.

There’s a name for the conventional wisdom about starting with a high number: It’s called anchoring. As in, the first number that gets tossed out is the one that anchors the discussion, the number with the most influence over how things eventually play out. And according to the study that the APS highlights, published in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, that holds even when the first number is something clearly ridiculous, like saying you want a million dollars for a job that obviously won’t pay anything in that ballpark.

When we track back the links on the Science of Us post, it seems there was a recent NPR interview that cited this research and so they were simply passing it on. So, that crack about your salary expectations doesn’t qualify in our book as a dumb joke but so it goes. Here’s a really stupid joke that we don’t think will raise anyone’s salary: What was a more important invention than the first telephone? The second one.

And the real lesson here is not what constitutes a stupid joke but rather, if you want to hear news like this research result in a more timely (not to mention accurately interpreted) fashion—just keep reading us. We actually read and don’t just recycle.

You will feel pain with this one and find yourself nodding your head and thinking of more…

Sometimes we see things on the web that are just begging to be shared. This one is from David Shall at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is actually a video titled “The Secrets of Memorably Bad Presentations”. He even mentions the idea of telling a bad joke (but he doesn’t want you to really do that). Enjoy.

The audio on the video is horrible (likely not intentional) so if you want to read a quick list of his points you can visit Retraction Watch. If you choose to do this, PLEASE read the comments on that page as they make you feel the pain of horrible presentations even more acutely.

Shaw, H., Ellis, D., Kendrick, L., Ziegler, F., & Wiseman, R. (2016). Predicting Smartphone Operating System from Personality and Individual Differences Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19 (12), 727-732 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0324

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/cyber.2016.0324

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hot-hot-hotIt’s time again for a combination post of things that didn’t make the cut for a full post but that we thought interesting (or odd) enough to want to share with you. We hope you enjoy this latest collection of factoids that will make you memorable when (and if) you re-share them.

Hot, hot, hot: And it isn’t a good thing for good behavior

We’ve written about the negative impact of hot, hot, hot weather before and here’s another story supporting the idea that there is a link between summer heat, bad moods, and poor self-control. When, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research, people report they lack energy or feel tired during the heat of the day, they were also more likely to report being stressed and angered. Lest you think this is a small scale study, the study looked at the reactions of 1.9 million Americans. The researchers think that, even if you live in a very warm climate, you are no better at adapting to it than those living in a cooler climate. (This is bad news for those in the southwest.)

However, it looks as though simply looking at pictures of cold weather can help you to improve your self-control. All you need to do is look at cold photos and imagine yourself being there—it will improve your self-control (which is good news for those in the southwest since we sure don’t want to live “there”). Perhaps hot and muggy locales need to post large billboards of icy landscapes and encourage viewers to think about what it would be like to be there rather than in the heat. Hmmm.

And as a helpful aside, the summer of 2016 has been, according to the NASA Earth Observatory, the hottest on record in 136 years! That’s hot! If you’d like to see the graphic illustrating this post in an animated gif form that covers 35 years, look here.

Will you learn more in a physics lecture if your instructor is attractive to you?

Apparently so. This is a research paper that attempted to test information from the popular website RateMyProfessor.com/ which apparently now asks students to “rate the hotness” of their instructor. (As though the tenure process was not difficult enough—now you have to suffer the indignity of how “hot” your students think you may be? Wow.) According to research published in The Journal of General Psychology, physics students who thought their instructor was attractive actually learned more as measured on quizzes following the lectures. The difference was “small but significant”. While you can read the full text of the article here, it was summarized accurately by Christian Jarrett over at BPS Research Digest.

Are pot smokers increasing or are people just responding more honestly to survey questions?

It’s hard to say but Gallup tells us that 13% reported being current marijuana users in an August 2016 survey—and that number is up from just 7% in 2013. The more often you attend church services, the less likely you are to report using marijuana. Further, one in five adults under the age of 30 report current use—and this is at least “double the rate seen among each older age group”. Gallup points out that nine different states are voting on marijuana legalization this fall and legalities could significantly shift. Perhaps Gallup should speak to the Drug Enforcement Association who recently announced marijuana would stay a Schedule 1 drug (like heroin and other drugs with “no medicinal value”).

How often do you check your smartphone? 

You will have trouble believing this one! According to a recent survey, the average American checks their smartphone between 150 times a day and in the UK, it’s even higher! . We’ve written a lot here about smartphones and our increasing use and dependence on them—as well as the distractions caused by them while walking, working, and serving on juries. Time Magazine recently published an article on smartphone addiction that is worth reading—it’s eye-opening (which is the first time many of us grab our smartphones—even before we get out of bed).

Who owns your tattoo? The answer is apparently not entirely obvious

A recent article in The Conversation, tells us that while more than 20% of Americans have at least one tattoo (and 40% of Millennials)—your own tattoo could be violating either (or both) copyright and trademark rights and tattoo-related lawsuits are not uncommon. If you have or plan to have a tattoo—you likely want to read this one!

Identifying liberals and conservatives in voir dire (a shortcut when time is tight?)

This is a ridiculous study out of the UK which concludes that the taller one is, the more likely they are conservative. We do not recommend using this in voir dire, but here are a few author quotes:

“If you take two people with nearly identical characteristics – except one is taller than the other – on average the taller person will be more politically conservative,” said Sara Watson, co-author of the study and assistant professor of political science at The Ohio State University.”

How big were these differences? “The researchers found that a one-inch increase in height increased support for the Conservative Party by 0.6 percent and the likelihood of voting for the party by 0.5 percent.”

And there were gender differences—although they were not statistically significant! “The authors discovered that the link between height and political views occurred in both men and women, but was roughly twice as strong for men.”

The article itself was published in the British Journal of Political Science but there seems to be a version of the paper here. We will not use this one as our eyesight is not good enough to tell a 0.6% difference in height when potential jurors are seated.

Noelke, C., McGovern, M., Corsi, D., Jimenez, M., Stern, A., Wing, I., & Berkman, L. (2016). Increasing ambient temperature reduces emotional well-being Environmental Research, 151, 124-129 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.06.045

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smartphone 2015Most of us don’t know how much we rely on smartphone use and this is likely a very important piece of information to help us understand why it’s so very hard for many jurors to stay away from their phones while serving jury duty. While only a small study (29 participants between the ages of 18 and 33 years all using Android smartphones), the disconnect between how much we think we use our smartphones and how much we actually use our smartphones is striking.

Here are just a few of the findings from the study:

Young people in this study used their smartphones for an average of five hours a day (which is 1/3 of the time they are awake).

The average time participants thought they used their phones was actually only about half the time they actually spent on their phones.

During their waking hours, on average they checked their phones 85 times a day.

They used their phones for internet searches, to check the time, to look at email and social media and to listen to music.

The duration of smartphone use was highly skewed with 55% of all uses less than 30 seconds in duration.

The researchers comment that research often relies on individual estimates of mobile phone use but this finding suggests those estimates should be interpreted with caution (and are likely very wrong). The researchers placed an app on each person’s phone so they could compare estimated use with actual use. The app simply calculated the duration the phone was active (using screen on/off as the indicator). In addition, the researchers asked participants to complete the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale (MPPUS, a 27 item questionnaire that has “positive correlations with self-reported mobile phone use”). One of the issues we see with use of this scale is that it was developed in 2005 (before the current smartphone usage level) but the questions seem to still resonate with what we know of smartphone use in the current day.

Here are a few of the questions from the MPPUS:

When out of range for some time, I become preoccupied with the thought of missing a call.

Sometimes, when I am on the mobile phone and I am doing other things, I get carried away with the conversation and I don’t pay attention to what I am doing.

I have used my mobile phone to talk to others when I was feeling isolated.

I find it difficult to switch off my mobile phone.

The researchers say that, when compared to smartphone use from six years ago—the amount of time we spend on our phones has not increased. They also, like us, express concern with using the MPPUS in the current day as a measure of “problem” use since there is a difference between “heavy” use and “problem” use. Additionally, there was no correlation between scores on the MPPUS and either actual or estimated use of smartphones. It may be that the MPPUS has been outgrown as the technology changes. The researchers report, for example, that all but one of the participants in their study used their phone as an alarm clock and many indicated that they use their phone last thing before sleeping. As smartphones have added additional tools, many people are using them for the new functions.

Overall, the lesson from this research is that our estimated use of our smartphones is likely quite different from our actual use of them and that a measure developed in 2005 has a very different outcome today than it did in 2005 when mobile phone use was relatively new and researchers wanted to see when it might cause a problem for those who loved their phones too much. And from the perspective of litigation advocacy, we need to understand that for many of us, our own acknowledgement of just how much we depend on the ubiquitous smartphone severely underestimates our usage.

Andrews, S., Ellis, D., Shaw, H., & Piwek, L. (2015). Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use. PLosOne, 10 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139004

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2015 this and thatHere’s another collection of interesting tidbits that don’t rate an entire blog post on their own but that we think worthy of mention. Think of them as our contribution to your conversational contributions over dinner, drinks, or to fill that awkward silence that pops up unexpectedly.

Be thin, White and attractive for crowdfunding success!

It’s disappointing to read the research on leadership and find that still, in 2015, people think the best leaders are “tall men”. While I understood that finding back in the late 1970s, the idea that it still works today is disturbing. But that isn’t all! Crowdfunding is a big deal now and, if you are like me, some of you may have contributed to various crowdfunding projects to see worthy projects become a reality. So if you have a good idea and want to try crowdfunding—we have information on how you can succeed! Just be thin, White and attractive! How easy is that?! (And how sad.) The good news is that when only experienced investors are examined on crowdfunding sites, you don’t see this sort of biased financial support to the thin, White and attractive. Otherwise, it seems to track with a high school popularity poll.

Pupil mimicry: Yes, it’s a thing (and it leads to increased trust)

You know all that psychological research where they show that if you mimic someone’s posture or facial expressions you are seen as more likable and trustworthy? Well, here’s another one although it’s a bit odd. New research shows that if you mimic someone else’s pupil dilation (now how in the world can you do that intentionally?) during an investment game, they will trust you more. But! And this is a big but. It only works if you are both part of the same ethnic group. A check of the actual article (cited below) tells us the researchers think we mimic pupil size unconsciously/unintentionally which is a relief since we had no idea how to do it on purpose. On the other hand, if we mimic pupil size only to those of our own ethnicity—what does that say about our implicit bias toward those different from us? We imagine you can see how this is oddly intriguing, but not worth dwelling on.

Tough love performance reviews (in 10 minutes)

Some estimates place the improvement in performance following a typical performance review at about 3-5%. So here’s an idea from the Harvard Business Review blogs on how to increase the effectiveness of performance reviews (and perhaps shorten the time you spend on them). This article presents a 10 minute breakdown of the entire (tough love) performance review and it is never mean-spirited. The author says it has changed team dynamics, helped individuals understand how their behavior could keep them from being truly effective, and ultimately, helped the financial bottom line. This is well worth a read if you are interested in making your performance reviews more useful.

If you are often cold in the office, you are likely a woman

“Why?” you say? Because office cooling systems are designed for men who have higher metabolisms and generate more heat than do women. According to a recent article in Vox

“The formulas used to design and calibrate most heating and cooling systems are based on a single estimate of the metabolic activity of a 40-year-old, 155-pound male.This formula for the human body’s level of comfort, created in the 1960s, made no attempt to take women or people of different sizes or ages into account — and hasn’t been touched for decades.”

A recent study in Nature found that if you use real women’s metabolic output (based on skin temperature) to program the air conditioning system, they were much more comfortable in their office building. (Of course, the men were likely wondering if the air conditioning was malfunctioning.)

Does your smartphone maybe know a little too much about you?

New smartphones have a lot of sensors and they can, if you have not carefully shut the sensors all off, they track how active you are physically, how much you sleep, and where you go on an average day. By comparing that data over time, your smart phone could know if you are depressed as a reflection of your behavior changes. Wow—really? You may lose interest in activities, sleep more or less, withdraw socially, and more. A new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (who knew there was such a journal?) examined whether smartphones could identify your behavioral changes and conclude you were depressed. Sure enough! People who were more depressed had more irregular movement patterns (going to work at a different time each day while those who were not depressed left at about the same time each day). They also were less mobile and changed locations less. And in an odd twist, people who are depressed use their phones more often and for longer periods of time—not to make phone calls but to text, play games, read, or something similar. It’s something Louis CK knows all about based on this video from the Conan O’Brien show.

Kret ME, Fischer AH, & De Dreu CK (2015). Pupil Mimicry Correlates With Trust in In-Group Partners With Dilating Pupils. Psychological science PMID: 26231910

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