Are you the type to respond to every single text ASAP? Or are you capable of putting your smartphone down for hours and forget about its flashing blue light? A new study suggests that the more people check their devices, the more impulsive they are in their everyday lives.
Two researchers from Temple University had 91 undergraduates fill out a questionnaire assessing how often they used their phones to update social media, browse the Internet, or interact with friends. Then they tested students' ability to delay gratification (aka wait) by asking them whether they'd prefer a small sum of money right now or a large sum anywhere from a few days to a year from the immediate moment.
The researchers also assessed students' sensitivity to rewards by having them rate how greatly they identified with statements like, "I'll try anything once," and, "I like wild and uninhibited parties." Finally, they ranked students' impulsivity by placing them at a computer and asking them to press a button whenever an "x" popped up on the screen but resist pressing a button whenever they saw a "k." (The more participants hit buttons when they weren't supposed to, the less impulse control the researchers concluded they had.)
Impatient undergrads—the ones least interested in waiting more than a day to get a hypothetical amount of money—were more likely to be preoccupied with their smartphones on a regular basis. Those who had a harder time controlling impulses to press buttons were also more tethered to their devices. Surprisingly, students' sensitivity to rewards didn't appear to be an influence on their phone-checking habits.
The more compulsively you check your smartphone, the more impulsive and impatient you probably are. And not just when it comes to technology. (Other studies have found similar parallels between how compulsively people check their cellphones and how negatively it can impact their well-being.)
If you're the type to never let a retweet remain un-liked or a friend request go unnoticed, take a peek at some other areas of your life. If you're having trouble reining in urges—to, say, eat the whole pint of ice cream, resist ordering one more round, or flip out at a coworker or friend—it may be time to take a break from your smartphone and start practicing some self-regulation.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.