May 29, 2009

Cell phone ringtones can pose major distraction, impair recall

8322.jpg A flurry of recent research has documented that talking on a cell phone poses a dangerous distraction for drivers and others whose attention should be focused elsewhere. Now, a new study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology finds that just the ring of a cell phone may be equally distracting, especially when it comes in a classroom setting or includes a familiar song as a ringtone. News & Information from Washington University reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn any setting where people are trying to acquire knowledge and trying to retain that information in some way, a distraction that may just seem like a common annoyance to people may have a really disruptive effect on their later retention of that information," said the study's lead author, Jill Shelton, a postdoctoral psychology fellow in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

... "Many of us consider a cell phone ringing in a public place to be an annoying disruption, but this study confirms that these nuisance noises also have real-life impacts," Shelton said. "These seemingly innocuous events are not only a distraction, but they have a real influence on learning."

Titled "The distracting effects of a ringing cell phone: An investigation of the laboratory and the classroom setting," the study was conducted at Louisiana State University, where Shelton received her doctoral degree. Her co-authors in the LSU psychology department include Emily Elliott, Sharon Eaves and Amanda Exner.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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