Your ringtone captures other people’s attention

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Ringtones are designed to draw attention away from on-going activities. In the present study, it was investigated whether the disruptive effects of a ringing cell phone on short-term memory are inevitable or become smaller as a function of exposure and whether (self-) relevance plays a role. You can watch Godzilla vs kong full movie download easily.

Participants performed a serial recall task either in silence or while task-irrelevant ringtones were presented. The performance was worse when a ringing phone had to be ignored but gradually recovered compared with the quiet control condition with repeated presentation of the distractor sound.

Whether the participant’s own ringtone was played or that of a yoked-control partner did not affect performance and habituation rate.

The results offer insight into auditory distraction by highly attention-demanding distractors and recovery therefrom. Implications for work environments and other applied settings are discussed.

Cell phones have made many things in our lives much more convenient. The cost of this convenience is that we are constantly exposed to personal conversations and ringtones.

It is certainly no coincidence that in places such as schools and libraries, or behind the wheel, cell phones are banned completely in many countries.

There is hardly any other sound that is as annoying as a ringtone going off in a movie theater or opera house. In an exploratory survey (N = 26), we asked participants to write down a list of sounds that they find particularly annoying.

Nearly 73% of our participants believed that the ringing of a cell phone falls in this category.

The only sound that was mentioned by more people (77%) as being annoying was a dentist drill. This is inasmuch surprising as the ringing of a cell phone

unlike other sounds that were frequently mentioned in our survey (e.g. construction noise, the crying of a baby) – is often encountered in our everyday lives and not per se negatively arousing.

On the contrary, many ringtones have a melodic character or resemble sounds with a positive association (e.g. bells ringing, birds twittering). What then makes a ringing cell phone a particularly unpleasant sound?

One reason that cell phones receive so many negative mentions is that the ringtone of a cell phone fulfills the sole purpose to capture attention and drawing it away from ongoing activities.

In order to do so, many ringtones comprise sound waves in the range from 1 to 5 kHz, which are also used for a number of acoustic alarm signals (e.g. horns, fire alerts, and bicycle bells).

This makes sense because the human ear is most sensitive to sounds in this frequency range Another quality of most ringtones is a certain degree of acoustic variability.

Changes in the frequency and amplitude spectrum boost a ringtone’s attention-grabbing potential and facilitate segregating the tone from the acoustic background. Visit klingeltöne kostenlos for Best Ringtones without any charges.

An easily recognizable design (e.g. a popular song) further enhances the figure-ground segregation and thus, the detection of the signal even in a noisy environment. The benefit of an attention-grabbing ringtone, of course, is that it is rarely missed. The cost is that when attention is drawn away from an ongoing task, performance in that task may be disrupted.

For instance, we know that conversing on the phone while driving is typically associated with poor driving performance both in the simulator and in real life but even the unanswered ringing of one’s cell phone may impair driving (Holland and Rathod, 2013; for a meta-analysis of the impact of cell phone conversations on driving performance referred by Horrey and Wickens, 2006).

Similarly, Shelton et al. found that participants were substantially slower in a lexical decision task when a cell phone ring was presented through headphones than in silence.

Interestingly, the disruptive effect was less pronounced when participants were informed that an auditory distraction would occur, suggesting that foreknowledge helped to adapt to the future distractor.

Shelton et al. also found that a ringing cell phone during a lecture led to poor performance in a surprise memory test for the information presented during the ring relative to other information presented in the lecture.

What we currently do not know is whether some cell phone rings are more disruptive than others.

For instance, our own cell phone’s ring may be much more attention-grabbing than someone else’s because we have learned to respond with overt behavior to the former but not to the latter.

However, if this aspect was irrelevant and the ringtones of other people’s cell phones turned out to be just as disruptive as one’s own, then the omnipresence of ringing cell phones maybe even more of a problem in the future:

According to the latest report of the International Telecommunication Union, the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions is expected to exceed the world population by the year 2014.

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