Mobile technology habits: patterns of association among device usage, intertemporal preference, impulse control, and reward sensitivity
Mobile electronic devices are playing an increasingly pervasive role in our daily activities. Yet, there has been very little empirical research investigating how mobile technology habits might relate to individual differences in cognition and affect. The research presented in this paper provides evidence that heavier investment in mobile devices is correlated with a relatively weaker tendency to delay gratification (as measured by a delay discounting task) and a greater inclination toward impulsive behavior (i.e., weaker impulse control, assessed behaviorally and through self-report) but is not related to individual differences in sensitivity to reward. Analyses further demonstrated that individual variation in impulse control mediates the relationship between mobile technology usage and delay of gratification. Although based on correlational results, these findings lend some backing to concerns that increased use of portable electronic devices could have negative impacts on impulse control and the ability to appropriately valuate delayed rewards.