Anyone who spends any time in public knows that there are any number of ways a cell phone can turn a person into an asshole, but now science has discovered yet another way that phones are ruining us and destroying our social fabric. It turns out, according to a study from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, that after people used their phones for even a short period, they were less likely to engage in "prosocial" behavior than a control group was. That means that they were less likely to volunteer and weren't as diligent about trying to complete a word problem even though they were aware that their answers would provide money for charity. Jerks! And what's worse, it turns out you don't even need to talk on your phone—you only need to think about it. Researchers observed the same drop in prosocial behavior after a group of study participants was asked to draw a picture of their cell phone and think about using it.

So what's with our phone-induced inclination to be rude to our fellow man? Well, researchers think it's because communicating with people on our phone satisfies our basic need to connect with others, and once we've done that we have no use for connecting with more people. So, basically, once you've got Siri as a friend, you don't need any of those other losers. Of course, this isn't so great if you find yourself in need of assistance on the street. I'd say you should probably try to turn to someone who isn't holding a phone in their hand, but good luck finding one of them. Looks like the new rule of the streets is every man (and their phone) for themselves.


Is Your Cell Phone Making You a Jerk? [Time]

Image via NataliaYeromina/Shutterstock.

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