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Using Smartphones While Walking is Associated with Delay but Not Social Discounting

Abstract

This study examined associations between two types of discounting (delay and social) and the frequency of using a smartphone while walking (USWW). Two-hundred thirty-nine college students self-reported USWW behaviors. We compared two groups based on their self-reported frequency of USWW per day; those who engaged in USWW either infrequently (USWW-Low), or frequently (USWW-High). Participants from both groups completed paper-and-pencil-based delay and social discounting tasks. For both types of discounting, hyperbolic functions provided a good fit of crossover points for both participant groups. USWW-High participants discounted delayed rewards more steeply than USWW-Low participants, whereas there was no significant difference for social discounting between groups. The findings that USWW is positively associated with delay discounting but not social discounting indicate that one aspect of impulsivity, but not selfishness, is associated with USWW. Furthermore, correlational analyses between delay and social discounting showed that there was no association between the two discounting tasks, suggesting that delay and social discounting operate independently. Given the association between USWW and delay discounting, strategies to prevent distracted behavior using delay discounting as a factor are discussed.

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Correspondence to Takeharu Igaki.

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Igaki, T., Romanowich, P. & Yamagishi, N. Using Smartphones While Walking is Associated with Delay but Not Social Discounting. Psychol Rec 69, 513–524 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-019-00348-3

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Keywords

  • Delay discounting
  • Social discounting
  • Impulsivity
  • Selfishness
  • Using smartphone while walking