Breaking up with your phone can be hard to do—so hard, in fact, that one researcher says it’s a phobia.
If separating from your phone puts you on the verge of a full-on breakdown, you might have what Caglar Yildirim, a doctoral student in human-computer interaction at Iowa State University, calls nomphobia, or fear of separation from your mobile phone.
Yildirim and ISU education professor Ana-Paula Correia developed a questionnaire, first published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, to gauge just how anxious people would become if they parted with their phones.
The questionnaire gauges four dimensions of emotional dependency on a phone using a basic agree-disagree scale. The survey presents various scenarios—”running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me,” for example—and asks people to rate the statements on a scale of 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 7 (“strongly agree”). The higher the score, the more severe the emotional reaction. For example:
— I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
— Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
— I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
— Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
— If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
— If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
Any of these sound familiar? For the full survey, check out the press release.
When Yildrim canvassed the ISU campus, the survey findings initially startled him.
“I was shocked by how many times people will say, ‘I will feel naked if I don’t have my phone with me today,’” said Yildrim. “We’ve become so dependent on our smart phones, we’re trying to fight the unhealthy dependence.”
For a more in-depth look into the research that was conducted by Yildrim and Correia, check out the below video from Iowa State.