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Differential Associations between Risky Cell-Phone Behaviors and Discounting Types


As cell-phone use increases, the probability for individuals to engage in risky behaviors while using cell phones also increases. Previous studies have shown significant positive associations between increasing risky behaviors while using cellphones (i.e., texting while driving [TWD] and using smartphones while walking [USWW]) and increased delay discounting rates. These participant samples were obtained either in the United States or Japan and did not measure both risky behaviors. The present study measured both self-reported TWD and USWW for 456 U.S. college participants to determine whether these risky cell-phone behaviors were associated with each other, and/or with increased delay and social discounting rates. Results indicated that self-reported TWD and USWW were significantly positively associated with each other (r = 0.42). Neither TWD nor USWW were associated with delay discounting rates. However, increased TWD was significantly related to increasing social discounting rates. USWW was not significantly associated with increased social discounting rates. These results show differential associations between risky behaviors while using cell phones and different discounting measures (delay and social). In addition, USWW rates were about two times larger for U.S. participants, relative to a previous Japanese sample, suggesting that culture and perceived risk may affect subsequent associations with discounting rates.

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Figure 1.
Figure 2.

Data Availability

The datasets from the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. 1.

    An AUCord analysis showed the same results as using log transformed s-values. Social discounting increased as TWD increased, H = 7.79, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.02. In addition, the only difference between groups was for participants that never engaged in TWD and TWD > 2, with the latter group socially discounting at a higher rate than the former, z = 2.77, p = 0.006, η2 = 0.05.

  2. 2.

    An AUCord analysis showed a similar trend for increased social discounting as USWW increased, H = 4.73, p = 0.09.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul Romanowich.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest. Internal research funding to the corresponding author was used to conduct data collection. Institutional Review Board acceptance was obtained before data collection. All participants were informed of their rights as human participants in a psychology experiment before completing any tasks or measures.

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Funding from a UTSA INTRA Grant to Paul Romanowich was used for data collection and analysis.

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Romanowich, P., Igaki, T., Yamagishi, N. et al. Differential Associations between Risky Cell-Phone Behaviors and Discounting Types. Psychol Rec 71, 199–209 (2021).

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  • Delay discounting
  • Impulsiveness
  • Sharing
  • Social discounting
  • Texting